Archive for the 'Darcy' Category

Tick Tock

Somewhere in the back of my head a stopwatch started counting down last night.

For someone as hardcore about the Sabres as I am, I think I’m a fairly patient fan. I try not to get too salty about the Sabres, and often times that requires a little bit of self-delusion. I think sports fandom without at least a little bit of self-delusion is totally weird. Irrational hope is a big part of the attraction, here. It’s the reason we care about sports at all. So, as a mostly-sane Sabres fan, I have bumbled along this season, doling out the irrational hope during the “up” stretches and trying to avoid getting dramatically emo during the “down” stretches.

If I have enjoyed a favorite willful delusion this year it has been in the area of Terry Pegula and Ted Black. I want to believe in those guys, I want to believe that they have a plan and that eventually that plan will work. I want to believe, and so I do.

I still don’t think Pegula and Black have made any obvious and horrible mistakes, but they have been undeniably cautious. In many franchises (dare I say most?) Lindy and/or Darcy would’ve been fired this season. I don’t necessarily disrespect the decision to keep both coach and GM employed through this lost season, but my willingness to blindly follow Pegula and Black now feels a bit tested. It feels like the warm fuzzies that I enjoyed just one year ago on “Pegula Day” has an expiration date.

The clock has started.

The way I see it, Darcy has ten days to save his job, and then depending on how he performs, Pegula and Black have a few months to respond accordingly. Darcy has made a lot of mistakes in the past year, but with this trade deadline he now has the opportunity to fix a few of them. He needs to trade an expiring UFA contract or two (that’s the easy part), and he also needs to get one of these forwards (Stafford, Roy, Leino) off the books for next season. If Darcy can’t (or won’t) do that, then I think the pressure is on Pegula to fire him.

In hindsight it’s very strange to me that Pegula stated a timeline so specifically for winning the Cup when he took over the Sabres. Three years is such a short amount of time, and winning the Cup is so incredibly difficult. Why put a timeline on winning the Cup?

I think Pegula made a mistake when he assumed that Sabres fans want a Cup quickly. I can only speak for myself, but as long as it happens before I die, I’m not super concerned about the timeline for the Sabres winning it all. What I really care about is the sense that the franchise is in good hands. I want to see that poor performance has consequences. I want to believe that our young players have every opportunity to improve in the Sabres system. I want to feel like the team is on the right track. Granted this has been a monumentally disastrous season, but right now, I’m not so sure about any of those things.

Frankly, if someone came out today and said, “We’re rebuilding and we don’t know how long it’s going to take,” I’d be happier with that than I ever was with the arbitrarily chosen 3 year window to win.

Make no mistake, the Sabres had some unbelievably bad luck this season. And please don’t get me wrong, I’ll love this franchise for the rest of my life. But there’s faith and then there’s willful self-delusion. I’m capable of either, but faith is so much more satisfying. A franchise built on faith is a franchise that I can watch forever.

I want to believe, I really do, but Pegula’s grace period is now officially winding down. I suspect that the next few months will determine a lot about how we view this ownership team for a long time to come.

 

It’s Called Cap Circumvention, Beeyotchs.

As Sabres fans we have no frame of reference for this, but Darcy just gave some dude named Christian Ehrhoff forty million dollars in the form of a ten-year contract. The deal is structured all wonky-like, and Ehrhoff gets something like 45% of the total contract in the first two years.

I know almost nothing about Ehrhoff. I know he’s German, and I know he used to play for the Canucks and the Sharks, and I know he’s an offensive-defensman.  I hope he’s good, because he’s (supposedly) going to be a Sabre for the next ten years.

But (and this might just be the three beers I drank with dinner talking), I do not care about ANY of that.

I just canNOT believe that the Sabres are all of a sudden a team that is throwing around money like we just don’t care. WHAT THE HELL HAPPENED HERE? Terry Pegula is like some sort of hilarious DREAM. This is exactly the kind of contract that Darcy would’ve bitched and whined about last year. This is the kind of contract that I neeeevvvver thought I’d see the Sabres signing. This is a Flyers contract, not a Sabres contract. This contract is blatantly unfair to the teams operating on a tight budget, AND I LOVE IT.

Cap circumvention used to make me angry, but now it makes me smile.

Frankly, I don’t give a rip if Ehrhoff is “worth it”. It’s not my money, and thanks to Darcy’s shifty negotiating skillz, the contract is preposterously front loaded and hilariously cap-circumvent-y. If this doesn’t work out, Pegula will either buy out the contract or it will be drastically altered by the new CBA in a few years. Either way, HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! We got a reasonably good defenseman in a weak UFA year for only $4 million against the cap! WOOOOO!

And free agency hasn’t even started.

Shit just got real, yo. REAL AWESOME.

Lots More Brains

Hold onto your brains, Sabres fans, because we’ve got four more years of Drew Stafford roaming the dark streets of Buffalo ahead of us. We must be vigilant, or he will (of course) eat our brains.  (Don’t hate Staffy for trying to eat your brains. It’s just his way. He’s only doing what comes naturally.)

TWC has obtained the transcript of Stafford’s negotiations with Darcy Regier:

Darcy Regier: We need to negotiate your contract, Staffy.

Staffy: Moooooore braaaains

Darcy Regier: Yes, yes, I know. You like brains.

Staffy: Moooooore braaaaains.

Darcy:  Try to focus, Drew. How much money do you want to play hockey?

Staffy: Mooooore braaaains.

Darcy: Drew… do you like being a Sabre?

Staffy: BRAINS!

Darcy: *sigh*

Staffy: BRAAAAAAAAAINS

Darcy: Seriously, dude. Stop talking about brains for ONE SECOND.

Staffy:

Darcy: Thank you. Now. Here’s my offer.

(Darcy slides a piece of paper across the desk to Staffy. Staffy picks it up, reads it, then sneers.)

Staffy: (roaring) MOOOOOOORE BRAAAAAAAINS!

Darcy: Now hold on just a second Staffy. That’s a good offer.

Staffy: MOOOOOOOOOOOOORE BRAAAAAAAAAAAAINS

Darcy: Well… how many brains do you think you deserve?

Staffy: Four million braaaaains per year for four yeeeeearrs. 16 million braaaaaaaaains total.

Darcy: Fine. Whatever. Just promise me that after you sign this contract you’re not going to start talking about how you wish you were a rockstar instead of a hockey player again.

Staffy: (cocks head) Red Seal Peach?

Darcy: No. No more band. Just hockey.

Staffy: (nods)

Darcy: Okay. We’ve got a deal.  Now get out of here you furry bastard.

________

I honestly don’t know what to make of this new Drew Stafford contract.

If the Sabres get 3o goals a year out of him for the next four years, this contract will be a steal. (And just think! Four more years of the “morrrrrre braaaaains” joke!) On the other hand, Staffy has always been really inconsistent and injury prone and blah blah blah  … you know what? Let’s not think too much about the other hand.

Hopefully this all works out, and from now on we get focused, awesome, hattricky Drew Stafford and moody, frequently-injured, I-just-want-to-rock Drew Stafford is in hibernation until his retirement from hockey.

_________

Having nothing to do with anything: For some reason when you google “Drew Stafford furries” this picture of Ryan Miller comes up in the image results.

Bieberfever

I have no recollection of Crunchy having that haircut. Yikes.

Happy Trade Deadline Day!

Today might be my favorite day of the hockey year.  July 1st is fun in theory, but trade deadline day is a whole lot dishier in terms of drama.  Plus, this year we have a new owner who is like, “Here’s a lot of money for you to spend, Darcy.  Go crazy. Do you think you might need more money? Because I have more. You know what’s probably easiest? Here’s my credit card. Just go nuts. And buy yourself something pretty while you’re at it.”

Over the last week or so I’ve been trying to brace myself for a typically restrained trade deadline day, because honestly, “restrained” really seems like it’s part of Darcy’s genetic code, but perhaps I’ve misjudged him. He’s already traded for a new guy!

Welcome to Buffalo, New Guy!

He looks nice!  His name is Brad Boyes.

Brad Boyes is a little confusing because these are his lifetime NHL stats:

What the eff, Boysie?

It’s a bit difficult to figure out what we’re dealing with here, but I don’t think there is any cause for alarm because as of right this minute, Boyes is the second highest scoring Sabre on the team.  (I know. Freaky. Why don’t we have anyone who can score?)  The big news is that he’s got another year at $4 million left on his contract.  So, if Boyes scores +30 goals next season we’ll call Darcy a genius.  If he scores 14 goals… not-so-much on the whole, “Darcy’s a genius” thing.

Since the real risk of Brad Boyes is his bloated salary, and we’re spending Uncle Pegula’s money here, I like this deal.  It’s fun to get a new player, and I think we can all agree that the Sabres need some fresh blood, even if that blood is a little on the streaky-for-entire-seasons-at-a-time side.  I’m just going to do the optimistic thing and cheerfully assume that Boyes will benefit from a change of scenery and a contract year.

So….HOORAYZIES!

Hopefully this is just the tip of the iceberg and somehow we’ll end up with all the good players in the league by the end of the day.  Fingers crossed, Sabres fans!

Sing-sing voice: *awwwk-wwward*

 

NOT COOL, GUYS.

I had the intention of doing a big long post today about Darcy Regier.  I might still write that post, but I’ve been temporarily halted by a completely disturbing discovery.

Here at The Willful Caboose Headquarters, I do the research for my brainier posts in one of two ways.  I either google things in the form of a question, (Example: “Is Darcy Reiger as dumb and/or as smart as he looks?”), and if that doesn’t work, I usually just make shit up.   My post today was going to be super brainy, believe you me.  Like, mega suuuuper brainy.

I had some questions about Darcy’s trade history and what it might tell us about how he’ll proceed on Monday.  So, first I googled, “Everyone is constantly bringing up the fact that Darcy traded for Briere and Drury as evidence of Darcy’s mad trading skillz, but they always gloss over the fact that the Sabres missed the playoffs for the first two years that both of those guys were on the team.  Of course, that doesn’t detract from the awesomeness of those trades, but it DOES raise the question- Is Darcy capable of turning the Sabres around quickly?”

That google search turned up diddly-poo.  At first I thought it might be time to shift into the “just make shit up” portion of my research, but I decided to go the extra mile in an effort to make my suuuper-mega-brainy post extra legit.  I decided to google Chris Drury and Daniel Briere.  Truthfully, I wasn’t totally positive about that whole, “The Sabres missed the playoffs for the first two years that both Drury and Briere were on the team,” claim.  I thought it wouldn’t hurt to double check.

So, first I googled, Daniel Briere.  I learned that he was a deadline acquisition in 2003.  So, that means he WAS on the team when the Sabres missed the playoffs in both 2003, and 2004.  So far the facts were backing up my claim.

Then, I google Chris Drury.  And this is where I made a TOTALLY HORRIFYING DISCOVERY.

Seriously, you guys?  SERIOUSLY?!  WHAT THE EFF IS WRONG WITH US?

Yes, that’s right.  When you google, “Chris Drury,” the drop down menu provides “Chris Drury back to Buffalo,” AS AN AUTO-FILL.   What this means is that so many people have actually googled, “Chris Drury back to Buffalo,” that now Google just FILLS IT IN AS A HELPFUL TIME SAVER.

This discovery has completely derailed my research because now I’m just sitting here on the couch feeling vaguely embarrassed. I don’t want to write about the history of the Sabres anymore today. I don’t even want to think about the history of the Sabres anymore today.

Buffalo, we need to take a long, hard look in the mirror.  Constantly looking backwards is… I just… I MEAN, COME ON.  This is Chris Drury we’re talking about.

I want to move forward, and I suspect you do too.  So, let’s take baby steps.  We can do it together.  First step: We’re going to stop googling Chris Drury.  All of us.  We can do this, you guys.   Cold turkey.

We’re never ever ever ever ever ever going to google Chris Drury for fun again.  Ever.

If, for some reason I wind up needing to google Chris Drury for a TOTALLY LEGIT bloggy-type reason, I BETTER not find “Chris Drury back to Buffalo,” in the drop down menu again.  DO YOU HEAR ME, BUFFALO?

Here is an example of an acceptable drop down Google menu:

100% awesome, and not at all embarrassing (at least not for us).

State of the Onion, Part II

I find myself with an unfamiliar Sabres-related spring in my step this afternoon.  I’m, like, happy about them or something today.  Maybe “happy” is taking things too far.  It’s not happiness I feel, it’s a lack of these-guys-make-me-want-to-barf-ism.   Over the last few months, I’ve come to accept the Sabres for what they are (a mess), and along with this acceptance has come an unexpected sense of peace.

It’s been a bit easier to feel peaceful about them of late.  They really haven’t been all that bad.  8-3-1 in their last twelve games.  Sure, two of the three Islanders games were horror shows, but still, their recent record is their recent record.  They’re doing alright.  Yesterday afternoon I was shocked to realize that the Sabres are six point back, with three games in hand over the Thrashers.  That’s doable, you guys.  It’s not likely, but it is doable.

The thing that’s been most interesting about this stretch of non-suckiness is that they’ve done it with significant injuries to the corp of forwards.  It makes no sense that the team’s record improved as their top points guys started dropping like flies, but there you go.  I find myself watching these games with a kind of bemused detachment.  Like, “Huh.  Look at little Gerbe go.”  It’s nice.

I believe the main reason for this pleasing sense of not-quite-optimism is Terry Pegula.  I don’t tend to put much stock in the ramblings of Bucky Gleason, but the one thing we’ve been consistently told is that Pegula will eventually buy the team.  After that it’s anybody’s guess what Pegula will do, but it’s nearly impossible to imagine that he’ll be as checked-out as Golisano.  Even if Pegula keeps both Darcy and Lindy, at the very least, Larry Quinn will be out of the picture.  That’s not nothing.

As far as players go, next season Rivet, Niedermayer, Connolly, and Grier will almost certainly be gone.  The Sabres will have a new captain- one who presumably will not be in the pressbox for weeks at a time.  Connolly, the guy who drives us all batty with rage, will be driving some other fanbase batty with rage next season. (Imagine a Sabresworld without Connolly!  Just imagine!  I bet the air will smell sweeter, and the arena will be bathed in the warm glow of heavenly love, and little bluebirds will flutter down to perch on our fingers as we sing songs about how much we love the Sabres during the games.  Paradise!)  Obviously, Nieds has been a complete disaster, and thankfully, next year he’ll be gone.  And Grier, well, we wish him the best.  Thanks for your service, good man.  Now please, retire, and stop taking Luke Adams’ minutes.   The elimination of these four players from the roster is NOT insignificant, and by shedding these contracts the Sabres will be waaay ahead of recent years in the “addition by subtraction” category.  WAY ahead.

I’m also hopeful that the Sabres will find a taker for Drew Stafford at the trade deadline.  There are some people who advocate keeping Staffy, and to those people I say, “You’re wronger than anyone has ever been wrong.”  Read this post by Hockey Rhetoric and then come back here and say we should keep Staffy.  It’s time to turn the page on Staffy, just like we turned the page on MacArthur.  (Do you guy miss Clarke MacArthur?  I sure don’t.)

And these are all changes that we can reasonably expect even if Darcy stays.

If Darcy is canned, we’re looking at a whole new Sabres landscape.  I’ve always been curious to find out if the fierce loyalty that Darcy has shown Lindy is a two-way street.  Will Lindy even want to stay if Darcy goes?  I won’t even bother speculating on what kind of on-ice changes a new GM and a new coach might bring, because at that point we’re basically talking about a different franchise.  We’d be in no-man’s land.  Delicious, exciting, thrilling no-man’s land.

I guess what I’m trying to say is this: I really believe that things ARE going to be different next season.  I don’t see any way around it.  Even if Darcy stays, Tim Connolly and Larry Quinn are leaving. For the first time in my short fandom, the sense that “nothing will ever change” is gone.  I’m watching the Sabres differently now.  I’m watching with a more appraising eye.  In a weird way I’m grateful for the string of injuries because it’s given us the opportunity to get a good look at the young guys in the system.  I’m looking at the franchise as a whole, and I’m trying to figure out what we’ve really got here.  Watching the Sabres like this is refreshing and it’s fun, and most importantly, it’s different.  In that respect, the change is already beginning for me.

Barring some miracle, this season will not amount to much, but I’ve really enjoyed watching the Sabres lately.  I’m less preoccupied with wins and losses, and more fascinated by the individual efforts of particular players.  (You know who I’ve found downright riveting lately?  Sekera.)

The entrance of Pegula has allowed me to give up on the season without giving up on the Sabres, and that is a change I never saw coming.

Tim Kennedy got waived!….for no apparent reason.

Dear Darcy Regier,

Oh Darcy.  Darcy, Darcy, Darcy.

Look, I don’t know what the actual excuse is (maybe Golisano and Larry Quinn are Mean Girl-ing you into being a total bitch), but waiving Tim Kennedy for no apparent reason has got everyone in town scratching their heads.  Tomorrow is a VERY important day for you.   Most people seem to think that the Sabres are just being cheap (and boy would that be cheap) but I’m going to go ahead and give you the benefit of the doubt and assume that you’re just being totally weird.

I’m more or less okay with Tim Kennedy not being on the Sabres next year.  It’s not my favorite move ever, but whatevs.  TK is a scrappy third liner.  This isn’t Ryan Miller we’re talking about.  I know that.  But it makes me very very nervous if the $200,000 difference between what you were reportedly willing to pay Tim Kennedy ($800,000) and the $1 million he was eventually awarded through arbitration is the reason you decided to waive him.  (And just for the record, I’m not poo-pooing $200,000.  I could really use $200,000 actually, and if I had $200,000 I would NOT want to give it to Tim Kennedy.  But still, regardless of my personal relationship with the idea of “$200,000,” $200,000 is not very much money when it comes to professional sports [even dopey little sports like NHL hockey]).

What’s done is done.  Maybe there is a good reason for this, or maybe you just woke up on the wrong side of the bitchy bed this morning, but the one thing I know for SURE is that I’ll be listening to your explanation with extreme interest tomorrow.  To me, this doesn’t feel like a money situation, which means there is something else fairly dishy going on here, and you better BELIEVE I’m more than a little curious.

I hope you are prepared to offer a weird explanation that matches the weirdness-level of this weird decision.

Good luck tomorrow, weirdo.

Katebits


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