Wednesday, July 2, 2008

More About Uncle Darcy

(Someone emailed me to ask about the title of the previous post. Occasionally I get sucked into the comment threads on Sabres Edge - you might come across a remark or two from me on the last few posts if you look really hard - and for a while every time I made some kind of pro-management comment, I was accused of being related to Darcy Regier. I think I've been his daughter, his granddaughter, and his niece. Uncle Darcy and me, we're like this. Okay, "we're like this" doesn't quite work when you can't see my fingers, but trust me, they are crossed.)

So first let me say my piece about Brooks Orpik. I will not argue that 3.75 a year seems like a perfectly fine deal considering the market. If he had signed that deal with Toronto or San Jose or Tampa, I might be a little upset. Yeah, the prices are steep these days but eventually you have to bite the bullet and spend something. But the fact that he signed that deal with the Penguins really makes me feel that it's a hometown discount. For all the talk about Orpik being a local kid, the only team he really should have any loyalty to is Pittsburgh. They drafted him, they brought him up to the NHL. He knows their management, their coaches, and their players. People can piss and moan about Darcy Regier not matching 3.75 or bumping it up to 4 but I don't think it matters. Even if Regier - or any GM not named Ray Shero - matched, Orpik doesn't take it. If he went somewhere else, it was going to be for more money. I doubt those rumors of 5 million were completely fabricated. Is this my opinion based on an assumption? Well, yeah, sure it is. Do I know at what price Regier bowed out of the Orpik sweepstakes? No. Being related to Darcy only goes so far. But the point is, neither do you. Sometimes players just don't want to go certain places. Signing a player is not as simple as handing the player the biggest offer and saying, "Training camp starts in September," and that's what I find the most annoying about all the griping about the Sabres - or any - front office. If putting together a Stanley Cup winning team was easy, everyone would be doing it.

Here's the thing. If you tell me I can have a GM who's overly deliberate and cautious OR I can have a GM who acts without thinking and makes the splashy play, well, I'm taking the cautious guy. He'll probably make mistakes too, but I think his mistakes are going to be less dramatic and more easily fixed.

I think in the past two years, the Sabres have made two large mistakes. One, they weren't able to keep Chris Drury or Daniel Briere. (Note the "or." I think keeping both of them would've meant sacrificing one of the younger kids somewhere along the way.) Two, they didn't replace Jay McKee's more physical presence in the defensive corp. But you know what? Even with those two mistakes - again, pretty big ones - the Sabres are a pretty good team. They finished the season with 90 points. They only missed the playoffs by 4 points. They missed the fourth seed by 8 points. And that was with inconsistent play from the goaltender (who was bad even before the end of the season when he was gassed) and the top defensive pairing. Better play from the three of them alone probably means a spot in the playoffs. The Sabres are young - younger than the much regaled Blackhawks and Caps - and a very large portion of their offensive output came from players under 25, most of whom are either locked up or are being talked with this off-season so that should hold for the next few years. Despite three big losses and a slowness to fix those losses, the Sabres are still a team that just needs some tweaking. In my opinion.

I'll take that over the Rangers just as an example. After free-spending last off-season, they now have $33 million wrapped up in five players (one very good goalie, two good but not great offensive defensemen, and two second line centers neither of whom make a habit of scoring a lot of goals) for four years. Outside of Henrik Lundqvist I wouldn't say that's necessarily a great group to be building around and it doesn't leave a lot of flexibility for other moves particularly in mid-season. I don't know. We'll see but I like what we have better.

And we could always be the Maple Leafs who have blown so much money and handed out so many no-trade clauses that they're buying out people left and right and begging players to agree to be traded. Not only are they re-building from the ground up, they're still looking for a plot of land to build on.

And hey, the season? It doesn't start tomorrow. There's still plenty of time to swing a trade and do some tinkering with the line-up.

But what do I know? I'm just a lazy, easy to please fan who enjoys mediocrity, is related to the GM, and probably works in the Sabres PR department.


ElmaGolf said...

From reading Sabres Edge, I assume I missed the change in NHL rules which closed the Free Agency signing period on July 2nd, and moved the Trading Deadline from February to July 3rd.

A sampling of transaction dates:
- Spacek: July 5th
- Lydman: August 25th
- Numminen: August 2nd
- Mair: July 24
- Drury: July 3rd (can you believe the Sabres waited 3 whole days to make that move)?


Kevin said...

I think the one thing that people forget a little too easily is that even with a cap, the Rangers, Flyers, Leafs, and other large-revenue teams can afford to make mistakes financially. Watch when Philly buys out Briere's contract in 2012 or 2013 by shelling out a couple million dollars. Won;t hurt against the cap much, and what's a couple mill to them?

But if the Sabres have to buy out a contract for $2 million, it just might be the difference between making money and not making money that year.

So your thought of having a GM that errs on the side of caution is particularly true in the small market that is Buffalo

dani said...

Agreed. And we still have a huge core of our team. I'm not complaining about that.

It's funny you talk about Darcy because the other day I caught a link on gmail while opening by Sabres Insider that said something like I read it and it kind of ticked me off. But then again it hasn't been updated since April.

Vanek's Hair said...

All these people upset about Brooks Orpik need to calm down. It's Brooks Orpik, not Scott Stevens. He's a nice player, but it's not like he is a franchise defenseman. Plus, looking at when he signed (at the end of the "shopping spree") and for what he signed (small comparative money) and with whom he signed (same team) that tells me he had very little interest from other teams. That is speculation on my part, not based on any sources. But if there was huge interest in the guy, he would have signed for a premium.

twoeightnine said...

How come Boston never made a run at Orpik? He's a local talent there as much as he is in Buffalo. Last two years of high school and 3 years of college. I hope the Massholes are upset.

amanda said...

Dude, we are totally in agreement again. Just because I don't stand on my rooftop and shout about how much Regier sucks doesn't mean I'm thrilled with every move they've made or am some easy-to-please fan.

And I'm guessing the guys who post here already know this, but it bears repeating - just because I'm a woman doesn't mean I don't know what I'm talking about when it comes to sports - let me relay a story.

We were at a birthday for one of our friend's sons. This guy I don't really know starts talking smack about the Sabres. I began to debate him. He dismissed me.

I could totally see my husband and some of the other people who know how big a fan I am starting to notice the steam escaping my ears and wondering what was going to happen next. Fortunately for the guy, I chose to keep my mouth shut and let him rant.

Now, I could be wrong about him dismissing me because of my sex, but considering that he debated with other guys, I don't think I am.

Sorry, HUGE pet peeve of mine. Had to get that off my chest. Continue your discussion...

Porky said...

Wow...thoughtful, reasonable thinking on the UFA market. Why again are you spending time at the Sabres Edge??

Heather B. said...

Elma, I finally had to abandon SE when someone broke out Ryan Miller going to Detroit. This again? I hope Ryan signs soon just so we can avoid an entire year of this.

Kevin, that's a good point and probably one I should have mentioned. Can you imagine how much of a mess Toronto would be if they couldn't buy out all their mistakes? They're pretty screwed as it is but geez, they'd be even worse.

Dani, I've seen that link in Gmail too. I forget who I was emailing at the time but I stopped to complain about it to them.

Vanek's Hair, I think you're mistaken. I read somewhere that Brooks Orpik is practically the same thing as Scott Stevens. And I read it on the internet so it has to be true!

Amanda, I've often wondered if so many of the hockey blogs I read are written by women because blogging is such a good, easy access for fans who aren't always taken seriously by people they talk to in real-life. It's not really why I started my blog but I don't know, it's interesting.

But let me share a story that I hope Schnookie won't mind me sharing. When she and Pookie stopped at the border on the way to Ottawa for the draft, the guard asked her the usual "What's your destination? What's the purpose of your trip?" So the Ookies reply, "We're going to Ottawa for the draft." The guard pauses and then says, "Oh, right. There's a lot of you coming in for that." And by you I don't think he meant "smart, funny hockey fans."

The conclusion? Boys are stupid.

Porky, I dunno. Every once in a while I just get it in my head that all people need is to just hear a little reason and logic. It's a fool's errand :-D