I’m beginning to wonder if TBN’s columnists are getting a bonus every time they write the words “Tim Kennedy.” I’m trying very hard to ignore Bucky Gleason these days - TBN is obviously enamored with him so I’m not getting rid of him anytime soon - but now Jerry Sullivan is in on the act? Good lord.
You can read Sully’s column here but the main gist is that the Sabres aren’t playing with any passion or fire because they’ve been beaten down by how management treats the players. He cites them refusing to pay Teppo Numminen a few years ago after he failed his preseason physical, not calling Henrik Tallinder back after making their initial two year offer, and buying out Tim Kennedy.
Look, I’m not going to say that the Sabres front office is overflowing with people skills. Sometimes it’s like these guys have never interacted with other human beings. They bungled the Tim Kennedy thing. Darcy Regier saying, “Yeah, we can work with that,” one day and then waiving him the next day makes them look petty or at the very least, not that bright. But that’s what’s responsible for the lack of passion from the team? Come on. That’s stupid.
Here are a few responses to specific passages.
Try this: Give your all for the team, but don't dare challenge us at the bargaining table. God forbid a Sabre should be overpaid. If being paid beyond your achievements was cause for dismissal, they wouldn't be able to field a team.
Actually, now that I’ve put this passage in here, I think I misunderstood it the first time I read it. But I’ll leave it in just because it’s the perfect example of the double talk from TBN columnists that drives me batty. For months, Sully has talked incessantly about how overpaid guys like Connolly and Pominville and Gaustad are, but now that the Sabres have said, you know, we don’t want to pay that much for that guy, he’s having a sarcastic fit. Because hey, if you’re going to overpay everyone else why not overpay another guy?
While we’re on the subject of double talk, a huge part of the reason Bucky’s babbling about the Kennedy buyout has made me so crazy is because he’s been writing forever that the Sabres should buyout Connolly and Stafford. But as soon as they bought out Kennedy, he was indignant. “They’ve always said that they’d NEVER buy a player out and now they did! Harrumph!"
Clearly the issue here is that the Sabres overpaid the players Bucky and Sully didn’t want overpaid and put their foot down with one they didn’t care about. And when the Sabres did finally cut someone loose, they didn’t cut loose the players that Bucky and Sully wanted cut loose. If they’d bought out Stafford rather than Kennedy, Bucky would be applauding the change in M.O. Instead he’s being completely self-righteous about it. I’m sick of all this petty bullshit from the media AND the team. Sometimes I feel like the two sides are in a giant pissing match and I’m stuck in the middle.
Wait, where was I?
Of course, it's a lot easier to make an example of Kennedy than one of their soft, overpriced forwards. There was a clamor to shake up their top six forwards after last year's playoff failure. I advocated cutting ties with Tim Connolly. Instead, they kept the precious core intact.
All of the soft, overpriced forwards - the core, more or less - have been coddled and overpaid by management. They have long-term contracts that involve big money regardless of offensive output, injury history or effort. But they’re underachieving because they don’t like how management is treating players? I’m not following the logic. Honestly, some of these guys should be on their knees thanking the lord for the Sabres. Is there a franchise anywhere as in love with its players as the Sabres have been with Pominville, Gaustand, Roy, Miller, Stafford, and Vanek? I mean, I would be totally offended by that if I were Jason Pominville!
Has anyone considered that Myers' struggles might be a result of the Sabres not bringing back Henrik Tallinder, his defense partner last season?
Well, yes, Sully. I think most of us have. I, in fact, wondered if that would be a problem before it actually happened. But I doubt Tyler Myers is moping around the ice because Darcy didn’t call Hank back and say, “Hey, thanks for the years. Good luck.” He might miss Hank on the ice. He might be struggling because he's playing without his only NHL defensive partner. His play is not being affected by the Sabres lack of courtesy toward Hank, it’s being affected by having to learn to play with a new guy.
I know I just wrote a blog a few days ago about hockey players being human beings with feelings, but I just find this idea that the Sabres are playing lackluster hockey because TIM FREAKING KENNEDY was cut to be ridiculous and nonsensical. Don’t get me wrong, the Sabres are playing pretty passionless hockey. But this group of players kind of always has. It’s them, it’s what they are. End of story. Most of them are not self-starters, they don’t burn to play hockey the way truly great players do. They don’t seem to at least. It’s not because of phone call or contracts or buyouts, it’s just something missing inside of them. I don’t know how you fix that. But I’m pretty sure it’s not by sending Hank a thank-you note.