Monday, January 12, 2009


So when I discovered that Chris Butler was going to start and Henrik Tallinder was a healthy scratch, I was sure Hank was going to be traded before morning. One of my best blogging buddies, Patty (in Dallas) of Penalty Killing, watched her favorite player, Philippe Boucher, get traded after being a healthy scratch and with that fresh in my mind, I went into a bit of a panic.

Putting on my GM hat, I could make perfect sense of dealing Hank. Chris Butler clearly has to play somewhere and the Sabres don't seem to want to send him back to Portland. That means we have too many d-men. Someone has to go somewhere, right? Even though people in Buffalo feel like Hank has never quite turned into what we thought he was going to be, listening to other team's broadcasts or national broadcasts makes it clear that he's still well thought of around the league. He's a good defenseman. He's also an appealing trade because he's signed through the end of next season and to a very reasonable contract by the standards of today's market. Out of our defensive corp, he'd probably get one of the better returns.

But emotionally I'm not prepared for this scenario at all. Who's my next favorite player? Whose jersey will I wear? For crying out loud, who will go in the banner of this here freakin' blog?! Weird thing about favorite players... Logic goes out the window. Elma left a comment a couple of weeks ago suggesting that I was cranky out of disappointment with Hank and that's just not the case. I'm disappointed, yes. I really thought he and Toni Lydman were on the cusp of being a really great shut-down pairing and they've never really made that leap. But somehow that doesn't make me like him (or Toni, for the record) any less because... I love him. I just do. I can't explain it. There's something about him that strikes me in a way that no one else on the team quite does and that's just the way it is. When he leaves Buffalo, whether it's now or later, I'll be really, really sad in a way that I haven't been since Andy Van Slyke left the Pirates in 1994.

Besides, if we're sitting people on merit shouldn't it be Teppo Numminen in the press box? I love Teppo and can't wait to see him wandering around behind the bench in a suit next season. I'm certainly not going to backtrack and say he never should've been re-signed because I loved the deal when it happened. I totally get why Sabres management decided to give the old guy one more season. I really think it made sense on both sides. But it hasn't worked out. Teppo has definitely lost a step this season and it's probably time for him to hang 'em up at the end of the year. But he's playing while Hank, who's been better since the last scratching, I thought, is watching. But maybe I'm biased.

So I don't know... What do you guys think? Is Hank getting traded? (There's only one answer to that question, btw.) What needs to be done on defense? Who plays and who sits? I'm going to go to work and wait for a phone call telling me my favorite player is on his way to Phoenix a.ka. Off the Edge of the World.

(As for the games this weekend, nice to see Ryan Miller steal - or attempt to steal - a couple. Can't believe the team wasted his effort against Detroit although I suppose that's what happens when you let them have 48 shots especially when you're going to take about half that many shots yourself. Hey, maybe Lindy should reconsider which d-man he sat...)


Zach said...

If Hank is low on the depth chart, what about Nathan Paetsch. He has to sit at the 8 or 9 spot on the depth chart. If there is anyone that we should get rid of first, it will most likely be him.

Tallinder could probably go in a package deal with Afinogenov if he ever gets healthy.

Cari said...

I would have to agree with Zach. But, at the same time Heather, you've got to remember Darcy's tendencies. He's not all that likely to make a deal anywhere before the deadline, so unless the rumors heat up, I wouldn't worry too much.

Vanek's Hair said...

On any normal team, Hank being scratched would be good indication that he is being traded. However, the Sabres have a crazy person behind the bench when it comes to lineups (Let me add the disclaimer that I am a huge Lindy Ruff fan). It's just as likely that Hank was scratched because he wore the wrong Under Armour at practice this week.

What do I want the Sabres to do? Somehow bring Jay Bouwmeester from Florida in. But that is a pipe dream. Plus, Florida is going to make the playoffs (that's right, I said it) so they will not be selling now.

I do think Hank would merit a strong return in trade. If he were packaged with Stafford, it would be even better, at least I think so. I have no idea why I am so willing to throw Stafford over board all of sudden.

In an unrelated note, I love the MLB channel recently added to my cable. Of course because it is focusing on the World Champion Phillies, but also for the old games. Some late '80s games this weekend. I forgot how awesome mullets and mustaches were in those days.

Jennifer said...

The Sabres haven't gotten rid of a player that I was in love with since I've been a fan (almost 2 years), but this post made me think. I don't think Hank is going anywhere immediately, but eventually, he will be going and that is going to be a sad, sad day for me. I like all of the guys (well most of them), but none of them stand out to me or are as special to me as Hank.

Thanks a lot Heather, now I'm sad! :(

And VH, the mullets and mustaches reminds me, Joe Dirt was on TV yesterday and I watched most of it. It is a really stupid movie, but I just love that hair.

LeeAndrew said...

Relief Pitchers in baseball have the best facial hair of anybody all-time. I wonder why that is. Maybe that's the only way for some of them to get noticed.

As for Tallinder, I feel your pain. I'm sitting here wondering when (if) the Mets are ever going to re-sign Oliver Perez. Come on Minaya!

Anonymous said...

I think Cari and Vanek's Hair have got it nailed here. If nothing else, Hank's not going anywhere soon because Darcy doesn't like mid-season deals. Moreover, I think a Hank/Staffy package is just the sort of thing that piques interest around the league - fairly solid, dependable and not very flashy. Overall the feeling that it'd be a bargain.

Before real panic sets in though, think about where Buffalo has been the last 2-3 years. How many injuries (minor AND long-term) have we had on the defensive end? I'd say more than our share and the trend across the league seems to indicate more on the way. What a nice position we'd be in to have too many quality d-men should one of ours suffer an unfortunate circumstance.

He's not going anywhere, if only because he makes a warm and snuggly security blanket.The only trade we see in the near future is a health Max go out west for a draft pick.

Jennifer said...

He's not going anywhere, if only because he makes a warm and snuggly security blanket.

I love that description of Hank! He is a snuggly security blanket.... and I'm cold. :)

Vanek's Hair said...

Relievers generally do have the facial hair. Goose Gossage, Rollie Fingers, Bruce Suter, and my personal favorite, Dennis Eckersley.

Heather B. said...

Vanek's Hair, normally I would agree with you. Lindy's a nut. But one of the things he's been nutty about in the past is being extremely reluctant to sit starting veterans no matter how well the kids under them or others below them on the depth chart are playing. Once guys have a spot in the line-up, they have a spot in the line-up. He's called out Derek Roy and Jochen Hecht and Jason Pominville, some of them repeatedly, and despite repeated threats to scratch people, Hank is the only one he's actually followed through on the threats with. Maybe Teppo just out-veterans Hank but I'm a touch worried Lindy is going Dmitri Kalinin on him i.e. "I'm tired of this guy, I don't know what to do with him, I can't wait till he's gone."

But ooooh, MLB channel. Me wants!

Vanek's Hair said...

But Lindy has already gone down the "I am benching Tallinder because I am mad at him" road. I agree that Numminen deserves a night or two in the press box. Actually, preferably more. I was alone in touting how important Teppo was three years ago when everyone laughed at him. Now he just looks old. Sit him, let Paestch skate around and, at the very least increase possible trade value.

Another question I have is why has Lydman avoided the press box? A friend of mine calls him "Turnover Tony." In recent games, I have really noticed why.

Also, check your cable channels for the MLB network. I did not call and ask, I just have it. So do others who have not added it specifically. There has also been no warning that it will be taken away if I don't "Call my Cable Operator Now!!!!" You may already have it. It rules.

Mark B said...

I agree that Teppo should be benched over Hank. Hank has not been that bad since his last benching and Teppo is not just one step behind, he's three or four. And I love Teppo too - but I think we forget that two years ago he was slowing down and that was before the heart surgery.

Vanek's Hair, while I agree that Toni has an occasional brain cramp with turnovers, I think he's been overall the most consistent D-Man this year. He's been physical and in position most of the time.

amy said...

Lindy basically said today that none of the defensemen are going anywhere. Butler's playing too well to get sent back down and Paetsch has been told he's the low man on the totem pole. That leaves the veterans to fight over who gets to sit. As much as a like Teppo, I think he could benefit from a night off now and then.

And according to TWC, the MLB Network is no charge as part of the digital cable package. Some of the stuff they've shown so far has been pretty good. And hopefully they'll have some halfway decent coverage of spring training. Pitchers and catchers report around Valentine's Day.

Jennifer said...

And Toni does score once in a while.

Vanek's Hair said...

I'll have to keep a closer eye on Lydman. I guess I never noticed him until recently. Actually when talking about a defenceman, that is high praise. It is recent that my friend referred to him as "Turnover Tony." Maybe it is just the psychology of hearing that. Kind of like when you buy a new car, suddenly you notice everyone else driving that car.

Heather B. said...

Amy, I'm glad to hear that everyone is sticking around although I'd like to see someone else on the bench :P Still, good news, thanks!

VH, I'd agree that Toni has arguably been our best d-man this season. He's had a lot of rough turnovers in the last few games but up until that point he's been pretty good.

Anonymous said...

Vanek's Hair, while I agree that Toni has an occasional brain cramp with turnovers, I think he's been overall the most consistent D-Man this year. He's been physical and in position most of the time.

I was sitting here the other night and had an epiphany. I LOVE to hate Spacek. (Not the epiphany yet) So much so that for 2 years I would scream at the TV and text everybody I knew "F*&%ing Spacek!" before every game. With the rotating d-men coming and going, who has been constant? (here it comes...) Who, in my mind at least, is now the cornerstone of the Buffalo defense? F*%&ING SPACEK!!! (ta-da!)

Patty (in Dallas) said...

Heather, I don't know Darcy that well, but I'm pretty sure Hank isn't going to get traded. I sure hope he doesn't, for your sake, because it's a terrible terrible thing when your favorite player is traded. Terrible.