Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Lazy Blogging

I'll admit up front that this post is totally half-assed. I haven't had a ton of time to think this week - summer school started up and I'm pretty sure my new class is trying to kill me - but I'm in a blogging mood. I'm not even going to make the effort to actually organize these thoughts in any way. The column quoted below is from our favorite fella, Bucky Gleason.

Rivet isn’t an elite player, but he’s an upgrade. He’s a tough, solid defenseman who can move the puck. He’ll score the odd goal, be dependable in his own zone and win a few scraps. He’s locked up at $3.5 million for each of the next three years, making him the Sabres’ highest-paid defenseman at a reasonable salary... He’s a quality player, a character guy, one this town will appreciate. Good for the Sabres, good for their fans, good work by Regier... They didn’t even bother to offer hometown defenseman Brooks Orpik a contract. He returned to Pittsburgh with a six-year deal for $22.5 million, hardly a budget-buster. He’s making $250,000 per year more than Rivet, 33, who is better offensively but six years older. The message received there was that mediocrity remains acceptable.

I just... I don't understand. Bucky lists all the reasons that Craig Rivet was a good pick-up and a good fit for the Sabres and then concludes that management is happy with mediocrity because they didn't make an offer to Brooks Orpik. Craig Rivet is older which means he has experience being a leader on his team, something the Sabres needed that Brooks Orpik would not provide. He's also right-handed, something that the Sabres needed desperately and something that Brooks Orpik is not. (I admit I only know we need this because of Meg. She always brings it up when we discuss the defense.) He has a track record of good play that's longer than 2 months during the postseason, something that Brooks Orpik does not have. He eats minutes, something the Sabres are missing without Brian Campbell and something that Brooks Orpik does not do. He also plays on the powerplay and the penalty kill, both things that - guess what! - Brooks Orpik does not do very often. (I can't tell you how shocked I was when I saw how little special teams time Orpik gets. What the heck good is a stay-at-home defenseman who doesn't kill penalties?) But passing on the player who doesn't do as much and hasn't done what he does do well for that long and instead going with the player who's proven he can consistently play at the same level over the course of an entire season and meets a lot of the team's needs is settling for mediocrity?

News alert: The Sabres have a poor reputation among players. It has become increasingly evident that the only way to get quality veterans into Buffalo is to force them here through trades. It’s an unpleasant way to survive.

News alert: This is not actually a news alert since we hear it every off-season.

I'm willing to accept that some of the team's trouble is based on its history for watching its money closely. They don't spend a lot of money and players want to get paid, yo. But I don't think you can underestimate the fact that people think Buffalo blows. Seriously. No one I know in Alabama has ever set foot in Buffalo but when they found out I was moving there I got all kinds of strangely critical, disbelieving comments unlike I've ever heard about anywhere else. Patrick Lalime said straight out that he wasn't sure about Buffalo because there doesn't seem to be much to it and to opposing players there isn't. If all you ever saw was the area around HSBC would you be impressed with Buffalo? Buffalo is one of those places you have to live in and let the city settle around you so it doesn't surprise me that free agents aren't inspired by it whereas guys who come up in the system or get traded here usually end up loving it, sometimes enough to move back when their playing careers are done. I find it very encouraging that all of the Rochester kids who came up together seem to want to stay put. And all the former players who Lalime spoke to (Marty Biron, JP Dumont, and some guy I'm forgetting) said Buffalo was a good place to live and play. Wow, our reputation rears its ugly head once again!

Also didn't we just say that the Sabres didn't even make an offer to Brooks Orpik? Did they make any competitive offers to any free agents? Is it rejection if you're not actually asking the other party to join you in the first place?

GM Dale Tallon admitted he overpaid Campbell at $56.8 million over eight years, but he also delivered a strong message that the Blackhawks were headed in the right direction.

Fundamental difference of a opinion. I'm not impressed by GMs who overpay a player much less publicly admit that they overpaid a player. What message does that send exactly? Maybe when I see hard proof that high payrolls equal winning teams I'll be impressed by a move like that but since the Red Wings had the 18th ranked payroll last season while the Maple Leafs had the 9th, I'll go on believing you can't buy a winning record and you can't buy a Stanley Cup.

Thing is, it’s difficult to see where the Sabres are going.

Well. Let me see if I can help you out, Buck. See, last season the Sabres had a really, really good offense. Their numbers were thrown off some by the fact that they tended to score in bunches but they did score and there's some reason to believe that those scorers will improve since most of them are still pretty young. They struggled more on the defensive side of things and the whole team seemed to skate around like a chicken with its head cut off when things weren't going well which suggested they were lacking in leadership and heart. Last but not least, the goalie started a lot more games than he ever had before and more than someone of his body type can probably handle so he was pretty wiped out by the end of the season.

To solve some of those problems, the Sabres signed a new back-up goalie - one who started in the neighborhood of 30 games last season and won a little more than half - and they also signed a veteran defenseman who isn't afraid to drop the gloves. I like to call that "progress." In addition, they've started talks with their starting goalie, one of their best young wings, and a pretty valuable UFA. Again, "progress."

Yet since the lockout the Red Wings have won three straight division titles and one Stanley Cup, seven straight division titles and four Cups in the last 11 years. Players practically climb over one another to play in Motown.

Yeah, Detroit is amazing. I whole-heartedly agree. Let's ignore the fact that they mostly built their team the the same way the Sabres did - drafting good talent and trying to keep them around - though definitely more successfully and just say, way to tilt the argument to your side by comparing Buffalo to one of the very best run franchises in all of pro sports. Just about everyone in every sport fails in that comparison. I think not living up to the Red Wings still puts Buffalo in pretty decent company.

All right. I'm going to bed.


twoeightnine said...

But does Rivet have the name Brooks Orpik? That just screams hockey awesomeness.

Wait. His name is Rivet? Ignoring the F-C pronunciation, that's the little piece that holds the skyscraper together. I can dig that.

Jennifer said...

If Bucky dislikes the Sabres, both the team and management, he could go somewhere else and write about another team. No one is begging him to stay there, are they?

D.O. said...

You hit the head on the nail Heather. Bucky will do anything to throw a jab at the Sabres management even if it has no basis. The money that was being thrown around is much better spent on a guy like Rivet that has already proven himself. Orpik is six years younger and he may turn into a great shutdown defense-man but as of right now he is unproven and probably not worth the risk.

amanda said...

I don't understand why the Sabres let all this bashing to their reputation happen. I'm in marketing as a career, and it's appalling that the Sabres PR staff doesn't do more "hey, this place doesn't suck" stuff. Even getting players who are here like Roy to publicly say how awesome it is would help - even if they're lying. Perception is reality, and right now the Sabres aren't doing themselves any favors.

That being said, Bucky needs to go. This is getting ridiculous. The Sabres are FINE, they will BE FINE, and they will play FINE. They may not win the Cup next year, but they'll compete, like they have every year save last year. Calm down, people, back away from the ledge. All will be well...

Tim said...

"Fundamental difference of a opinion. I'm not impressed by GMs who overpay a player much less publicly admit that they overpaid a player. What message does that send exactly?"

It says "Brian Burke!! Over here!! I'm helping too!!" ;-)

Mark B said...

Since we know that Mike Harrington is a fan of this blog, I just have to wonder if he ever feels guilty realizing how much a better columnist Heather would make than Bucky. Okay, I'm biased ;-)

But seriously, I'm so glad I stopped reading the Buckster. That has to be the most ridiculous thing he's put on paper yet. Now granted, he didn't write "5/25" anywhere, so let's give the kid props for making progress. But geez, leave it to Gleason to take the most promising news the Sabres have had in over a year and slant it into one of his anti-management rants.

I know it's America and all, but sometimes I think certain people shouldn't be allowed to express their opinions.

Okay, I'm half joking there, but Buck, get a clue, okay?

I blame people like Bucky for encouraging the cynical attitude of many Sabres fans. I've spoken to a few people who said sarcastically, "Oh what a great move Regier." Well, it was a great move. Rivet brings something to this team that they lost when the revered Drury bolted out of town. He brings strong leadership and a winning attitude that was lacking last year. Plus he'll just about murder someone if they mess with Ryan or anyone else on the team for that matter. Just read some San Jose blogs to find out how much this guy is Captain material.

I for one want to give Darcy kudos for stealing, yes stealing, Rivet away from SJ.

Erin said...

This is such a nice post. I was really starting to belive that the Sabres were doomed for this coming season and that I should just watch the games for entertainment factor, rather than hoping that we could actually win. But then!! You're analysis is really good, and it's cheered me up. Nice job. Thank you for helping me see the light.

andrew said...

Speaking as a Sabres AND Sharks fans, I'm gonna go on record and say that Rivet and Buffalo are going to go together like peanut butter and chocolate. Had Marleau been traded, he was next in line for the captaincy in San Jose. He is not a flashy player...he's a fantastic leader, a gritty team-first type of guy, and possibly one of the most underrated fighters in the NHL. I'm sad to see him leave SJ, but thrilled to have him in Buffalo.

And yes, Bucky is a turd on a stick. Not that that's a surprise to anyone here. He should go write for the Atlanta Journal Constitution. Where the team actually is hopeless and very few people will actually read his column.

Woo, sorry for the rant.

Heather B. said...

Amanda, I will say that as much as I roll my eyes at this particular column, I do agree that the Sabres PR is pretty awful most of the time. Players who drop in on Buffalo for games are never going to be bowled over by the city itself but like you said, there are plenty of little things they could do to make the place seem nicer. I think current ownership has done a really good job of marketing the team locally and making almost every player recognizable but yeah, their national PR could use some serious work.

Erin, don't believe the hype! Will we win the Stanley Cup this year? I don't know, probably not. But I think we can be competitive if all the players play the way they can and I think the EC is still overall, not that strong. I'm not sure there's a Goliath on our side of the bracket.

I guess the thing that really confused me about this column was the way Bucky started out all cheery, "Good signing, Darcy, well done! This guy will really help out" and then quickly veered into, "The Sabres love mediocrity!" I don't get it.

It says "Brian Burke!! Over here!! I'm helping too!!" ;-)

Yeah, I can live without that message :-D

S.A.M. said...

Yeah Bucky's an idiot. A negative idiot, the worst kind! Take that noise elsewhere, dude.

I liked your rebuttals. I'm excited about Rivet and Lalime. Neither will break the bank, but both will help out and that Sabres are all about TEAM, not superstarz. I like that.

As for the Blackhawks, yeah they def. overpaid Soupy, BUT the fact that they are spending any money is such a leap in the right direction from where they had been that it's notable.

And, lastly, as someone who is not a native Buffalonian, or even New Yorker, I have come to love the city and the region. Ohio will always be home and it owns my heart, but I like it here! And I think taht players who visit don't see all of that, but players who come to stay will get it. Flashy, Buffalo is not. A good place to live, Buffalo IS! :)