Archive for the 'Free Agency' Category

The Hangover

Scene: A bedroom. Noonish.

Duuuuude, what the hell happened last night?

My head hurts.

What day is it? July 2nd? Oh man… (sits up in bed, blurry-eyed, hair all askew)…did we sign some dudes?

(Looks over to the right.) Who is this dude? (looks on floor next to bed) Why is there a Leino Flyers jersey on the floor?

(coughs a few times, clears throat, gently closes eyes, considers just going back to sleep)

(slowly opens eyes)

(Looks down at hand. Brings hand up near face.) Why am I wearing a wedding ring? (Looks back at Finnish guy.)

(gently closes eyes)

(slowly opens eyes)

The last thing I remember from last night is hearing that Darcy was on his way to Mississauga… (rubs eyes)… wait… did we get Richards?

 

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.

Man. Is LeBron James a Douche, Or What?

When I first heard about it, the LeBron James one-hour “DECISION” special didn’t seem like that bad of an idea.  Sure, it was an obnoxious concept from the beginning, but I could also appreciate it for its unabashed hat-tip to show biz.  Sports are, after all, a big silly show.

But as the day wore on yesterday, I began to imagine what it would be like to watch as a Cavs fan, and I got increasingly uneasy.  I should also admit that I believed all along that he was going to choose to return to Cleveland.  I mean, who in their right mind would set up an hour long spectacle in order to shit all over their home town?  It’s one thing to leave for greener pastures, but to go that far out of your way to be a dick on the way out of town?  Surely he had to be picking Cleveland.  Right?

Then I saw the “DECISION SPECIAL,” and it was SO MUCH WORSE than anyone could have possibly predicted.

I mean, that was cold.

I don’t have anything to say that hasn’t already been said better by foxier folks than me, but here are a few thoughts that I can’t stop myself from vocalizing:

- One of the things that reeeeally bothers me about this whole thing is the sneaking suspicion that LeBron James actually thought that the whole world would be excited about this.  I think he thought that we’d all shed our previous allegiances, and become Miami Heat fans.  For some reason, this chills me to the bone.  In addition to being an incredible tool, LeBron James might be bat-shit crazy, you guys.  Crazy like the Joker.  I’m literally afraid of LeBron James now.  The best thing we can assume about him is that he’s empty inside.  The worst is….scarier than empty.

- My favorite point about why his decision is icky is this: Superstars are supposed to compete against each other.  They’re not supposed to call each other on the phone and figure out a way that they can all play on the same team.  It’s just not right.  Imagine if Sidney Crosby and Ovechkin called each other on the phone and were all, “You know, it would be a LOT easier to win Cups if we were playing together instead of competing against one another, don’t you think?”  It’s just. plain. WRONG.

- On the other hand, if LeBron James doesn’t have that crazy competitive drive, that’s fine by me.  Seriously.  That’s okay.  I really think it’s alright to be suuuuuuper good at basketball and also have a normal human disposition.  Surely the same competitiveness that makes Kobe and Jordan and Magic “great” on the court also makes them total dicks in their personal lives.  Normal people have doubts, and not everyone wants to be a leader.  This is perfectly fine.  I actually think it’s kind of sweet.  BUT IF YOU’RE NOT THE GUY, YOU CAN’T TATTOO “CHOSEN 1″ ON YOUR BACK AND REFER TO YOURSELF AS KING JAMES.  Everything about that dumb special was presuming that LeBron James is one of the greatest that ever lived, while simultaneously selling a “decision” that made him seem small and insecure. How dumb do you think we are, LeBron James?

There were a few good things that came out of this though:

1. The Cavs owner is cah-razy, and I love it.  I know, I know, he’s stupid and he’s never going to sign another free agent again, and his letter was ridiculous, and he lost ALL credibility when he guaranteed the Cavs would win before LeBron, but still.  In the aftermath of that creepy display of consumerism, it was incredibly refreshing to get a taste of some unadulterated, genuine emotion.  The sad truth is that Gilbert’s lunatic rant felt like the first taste of sanity in a post-LeBron-ESPN-Decision-Special world.  So, now I’m a Cavs fan.

2. We will now have a new way of identifying the truly depraved people of this world.  They will be those wearing Heat jerseys outside of Miami.  I’ve heard a lot of excuses for rooting for the Yankees in Buffalo (“My father rooted for the Yankees, I grew up with them, Buffalo is a losing town I just want to cheer for a winner blah blah blah blah.”), but NO ONE grew up rooting for the Miami Heat.  There is only ONE reason to cheer for the Miami Heat, and that is that you are a GIANT TURD.

3. That ESPN special was so cold, so gross, so narcissistic, so unbelievably disturbing that it felt like a glass of cold water to the face.  It was a wake-up call.  Do not get me wrong, I have NO DOUBT we will ultimately ignore the wake-up call entirely, but I love that everyone in the country is on the same page (the page simply says, “THAT WAS SO FUCKING WRONG”) today.

The disturbing truth is that if LeBron James had said, “I’m sticking with my hometown team, the team I’ve always loved, the Cleveland Cavaliers.  I want to bring a championship to the city where I grew up,” my heart would have swelled with joy, and I would have forgiven LeBron for all the hubris and the narcissism of “The Decision”.  But it would have been wrong of me to forgive him for “The Decision” just because he said the thing I wanted to hear.

I think the ESPN spectacle was more wrong than any decision could have possibly been right.

That horrible sense of self-loathing everyone who watched the special is feeling today?  That’s the guilt-ridden hangover we earned last night.  It’s important.  That hangover is infinitely better than the alternative.  Without this crushing hangover, we might go on, drunk forever on whatever noxious, truly poisonous brew ESPN decides to serve next.

Today Is More Awesome Than Lame

Things that are lame:

1. Ryan Kesler and Zach Parise are no longer on our team.

2. Olympic hockey is gone for four years.

3. My ankle is sprained.

4. I wrote an entire huge long post about how the Sabres need a backup goalie (complete with STATS!  I looked up NUMBERS, you guys) only to scrap the whole thing because I realized that I wasn’t even buying my argument.  (Statbits are inherently fishy if you ask me.)   I still think that Crunchy needs some good rest before the playoffs, but I couldn’t prove it with numbers, so now I’m just all lost and confused about the whole thing.

5. DARN!  I forgot to put the chili in the crockpot!  I KNEW there was something I was supposed to be doing this morning.

Things that are awesome:

1. The S-A-B-R-E-S are back!

2. Paul Gaustad and Thomas Vanek are on our team.  (I know!  I’m just as surprised to see Vanek on the “awesome” list as you are!)

3. Lindy Ruff is on our team again.  Sometimes in Buffalo it feels like you have to choose to be a “Lindy Ruff never deserves criticism EVER” person or a swirly-eyed, frothing at the mouth “LINDYRUFFSHOULDBEFIRED” person, but I reject this notion.  I love Lindy AND I criticism him.  It’s called “middle ground”, and it’s awesome.

My main point about Lindy today is that it didn’t feel particularly good to see him on the other side of the ice.  I’m looking forward to getting him back.  Ryan Miller and Lindy Ruff belong together, not apart.

4. I’m really really looking forward to Lindy’s comments about the Olympics, and Miller’s play in particular.  I’m sure he’ll have some good stuff.

5. Lindy claimed that he came away from the Olympic camps this summer all calm and reinvigorated, with a new, fresh approach to coaching.  If the camps made him feel all inspired, imagine what winning a gold medal did for him.  Not to steal Darcy’s trademark line, but getting an invigorated and refreshed Lindy Ruff back in the locker room might be the same as making a big trade.   (Heh.)

6. TRADE DEADLINE DAY IS TOMORROW!   There are those who take a “This is how it is, this is how it’s always been, this is how it always will be” approach to the trade deadline, and I certainly can’t argue with that logic.  But, if you can’t daydream about trading Clarke MacArthur for Rick Nash in the 24 hours before the trade deadline, when CAN you dream about such things?  The trade deadline is fun, I say!  (That said, this IS how it is, this IS how it’s always been, and this IS how it will always be.  Darcy’s got his method and there’s not a damn thing anyone can do about it.  I just try not to get too cranky when the thing I knew was going to happen, happens.)

7. The fellas over at The Goose’s Roost have organized a gigantic Sabres blogger Cover-It-Live-athon, and we here at TWC will be participating.  I’m lifting the Willful Caboose ban on that big old clicking, scrolling chatty-box thing, and we’re going to talk Rick Nash for Clarke MacArthur ALL DAY LONG.  So, tune in here (or to any other Sabres blog) to get in on the chatter.

8. The Olympics really left me feeling like the Sabres should go for it this season.  Is Ryan Miller having the season of a lifetime?   If he did that for Team USA, can he do it for the Sabres?

9. Seriously though.  How awesome is it that Ryan Miller is a Buffalo Sabre?

10. The chili probably doesn’t need the entire day to cook.

Our Minds = Blown

Mike Grier is going to be a Sabre this season.

grierplanWhoa.

This is weird for a variety of reasons, including, but not limited to:

1. Mike Grier hates the Sabres and everything they stand for.
2. Actually, that’s it.  That’s the main reason this is weird.
3. It’s just REALLY weird that he’d come back here after he was all, “The Sabres suck ass” (I’m paraphrasing) on the way out of town.

I think I like it.

The Sabres need a craggy old vet, Mike Grier needs a job, and Craig Rivet needs a BFF to remind him what it was like to play on a good hockey team.  Earlier in the off season I was lobbying for John Madden, but Grier might be an even better option because he’s been here before and he’s presumably already aware of the Derek Roy Factor with the Sabres.  Hopefully the breaking in period will be brief, and Grier will show up ready to kick some Sabre butt.  I assume Derek Roy and Thomas Vanek are already scared of him, so we’re way ahead of the game there.

I’m a little worried for Mike Grier though.  I mean, if he thought the Sabres sucked ass in 2006, just WAIT until he gets a look at them now.

Good (and weird) work, Darcy.

regierheh

The Dust Settles…

….and every player in the league is now a Hab.

Free-Agency-eriffic!

Whaaaa?

Darcy signed a dude!  I REALLY did not see that coming.  His name is Steve Montador.

Here he is:

Steve Montador

Hm.  Possibly douchy facial hair, but I like the caveman brow.

Analysis: APPROVED

In other news:

1.  The Blackhawks bought Soupy a new BFF (Hossa) for the next one hundred years.

2. Northtown Lexus is official over Daniel Briere, and now Paille seems to be their new spokesman.  His delivery of his radio ad confirms what I have long suspected: He can baaaarely read.

UPDATE

3. Spacek is a Hab!  I’m surprisingly grossed out by this.  3 years and 11.5 million seems pretty steep though.  Buh-bye, Spacek.

4. I’m sorry, Bulldog and Heather B.  TRADING ROY WOULD BE LUNACY.

UPDATE 2

5.  Dude, Montreal.  Save some players for the rest of us, please.

The Sabres Are Dumb

The Sabres trumpeted this information on their website and on Twitter:

Picture 22

All aboard the Lunch Express!  Next stop, tenth place!

I’d post a link, but the tweet has been deleted (good thing I took a screen shot!) and the information on the website has been changed. Apparently the segment will NOT be live, but taped in the morning, before free agency begins.

Still.

If I weren’t crying about the fact that our GM is wasting ANY time on July 1st with this nonsense, I’d be giggling about the fact that someone (probably SEVERAL people) at the Sabres organization thought this was a good plan.

Here’s how I’m pretty sure that went down:

Random PR dude: Hey, I know what Sabres fans want most on July 1st!

Hecht: For me to get traded?

Random PR dude: No!  They want the opportunity to ask Darcy Regier a softball question!

Hecht: Are…you sure about that?

Random PR dude: Of COURSE!  The Fans LOVE listening to Darcy drone on and on about his justification for doing nothing!  They LOVE it!  And do you know what else do fans love?

Hecht: ….?

Random PR dude: No, seriously. Take a guess.  What do fans love more than Darcy Regier?  Come on.  One guess.

Hecht:….um…..lunch?

Random PR dude: Exactly!  And trains!  Lunch, trains, and Darcy Regier!  It CAN’T FAIL!

Hecht: But shouldn’t Darcy be working, or at the very least be pretending to work tomorrow?  It’s the opening of free agency.  I think fans want to see change.  Won’t a “live” interview be sending the wrong message to the fans?

Random PR dude: Nah.  But what do you think Darcy?

Darcy Regier: Working?  On free agency day?  I’d be BURNED AT THE STAKE!  No!  The people want to ask me stuff!

Random PR dude: See!  It’s what the people want!  Trust me.  I know these things.  The Lunch Express is a big hit.  Next week we’re going to have an interview with Tom Golisano, but we’re not going to ask him any questions.  It’s just going to be ten minutes of him in Florida, sitting on a pile of cash, and making out with Monica Seles.  The Sabres fans are going to go NUTS for it!  WOOOO!

(long silence)

Hecht: I’d like a trade.

Darcy Regier: Well, too bad!  You’re untradeable!  WOOOOOOO!

Then, Darcy and the PR Department turn off all the phones, fax machines, and computers so the racket of other team’s GMs calling won’t interfere with the taping of the Lunch Express. Then they high five and start a conga line.

(I feel a little bad about this post.  I’m not sure that it’s cool to make fun of the Sabres PR people.  I think that athletes, coaches and GMs are fair game for bloggy meanness, but I’m less sure about the people working in the office.  Sorry, Sabres PR people! I couldn’t resist!)

(Now that I really think about it, this might be all Kevin Sylvester’s fault.)

(Blaming Kevin Sylvester for everything is fair, funny, and most likely totally accurate.)


Time To Trade all the Sabres!

Hooray!  The hockey season is FINALLY over, and now we can get down to the delightful task of trading away all of the old sucky Sabres, for NEW sucky Sabres!  WOO!

I read something interesting on Kukla’s Korner today.  John Madden is going to test the market on July 1st.

I want him!

john_madden footballEw, gross!  Not him!…..

2061430EH002_Stanley_Cup

…..HIM!  (disclaimer: he’s only slightly less gross than the football John Madden)

Before you get all uppity and, “He’s old! He’s never been that productive!  He’s on the decline!” I say to you, “I know, but gather ’round and listen to me.”

Seven reasons the Sabres should sign John Madden:

1. Have you EVER seen a Sabre look like John Madden looks in that picture?  No.  No, you have not.  Because most of our  players are little wusses.  I like how beat-up John Madden is willing to get, and I like how he’s got a respectable playoff beard- like a man.

2. The Sabres are in desperate need of a leader, and John Madden seems like one of those “I REALLY WANT TO LEAD” eager-beaver types, like Briere was, only with credibility and a cranky disposition.

3. John Madden has won two Cups.  Two.  And a Selke.  I used to poo-poo the idea that Cup experience is all that valuable, but then I watched two seasons of a team with zero Cup winners, coached by a guy with zero Cup wins and I changed my mind.  The Sabres really need SOMEONE around who knows what it takes to win it all.

4. Here’s what Pookie said when I emailed her about him:

I think his leadership could be really good for a team like the Sabres.  He’s a hard-ass and I suspect he has absolutely no qualms about telling younger players to shape up.  I think he’d love to see himself as a Scott Stevens for a rudderless group.

We HAVE a rudderless group here in Buffalo!

5. Here’s the OTHER thing Pookie said:

You know what his biggest strength to you guys would be?  Coach killing.  He’s been a key player on a lot of classic coach killing teams!

Now, I know that most of you don’t want Lindy to be fired, but I feel strongly about this one.  If Lindy comes back next year, and the Sabres are good, and they all start listening to him again, GREAT!  Lindy’s an awesome dude, and super fun to have around, and it would ROCK if the Sabres stopped sucking.  BUT.  If Lindy comes back, and the Sabres still seem disorganized, disinterested, and all around sucky, SOMEONE needs to be fired, and that someone is usually the coach.  One of the things I HATED about last season was that the players seemed to be coach killing, BUT THEY COULDN’T EVEN DO THAT RIGHT.  If coach killing is what we need, John Madden’s got the experience to get it done.

Hopefully we won’t need a coach killer next season, but if I have to watch another season of Derek Roy TRYING to kill Lindy and FAILING, I swear to LINDY RUFF I will lose my effing mind.

5. His nickname is Maddog.  The only dog nickname the Sabres currently have is “Pommerdoodle.”

6. According to the Ookies, John Madden is totally humorless and his interviews are all-dour-all-the-time.  Perfect.  Hopefully he’s like that in practices, and on the team plane, and on the bench, and in the workout room, and in hotel rooms, and EVERY MINUTE OF EVERY DAY.  The Sabres could really use a dour asshole around.  They certainly responded to Chris Drury, didn’t they?

7. I really believe the Sabres HAVE to pick up a grizzled vet, and we could do a WHOLE lot worse than John Madden.  (See: Guerin, Bill)

(Thank you to the Ookies, fabulous Devils fans, who obviously greatly influenced this post.  By “influenced” I pretty much mean “told me all of this stuff, exactly”.)

Whaa?bits

I….did not see this Timmy deal coming.  That seems like WAY too much money for Timmy.  Don’t get me wrong, it’s a great deal if there was even a REMOTE chance of Timmy being healthy for an entire season, but, this is TIM CONNOLLY we’re talking about.  If he plays out the rest of THIS season without injury I’ll eat my car.  So, I guess I’m not super wild about this deal.

I’m cool with this goalie situation though.  My problem with Bucky “Biron to the Sabres” Gleason’s scheme is that it would have required giving up Hank Tallinder to get Marty Biron.  I think we can get something better and more useful for Hank, but I do think it’s good that we have a bit more depth in goal now.

I’m keeping my fingers crossed for more moves before the deadline.  I want playoffs.

UPDATE: Dude.  Dominic Moore!   I have to go to the dentist!  I don’t want to go to the dentist!


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In accordance with the Fair Use Copyright Law, The Willful Caboose uses logos and registered trademarks of the National Hockey League to convey my criticism and inform the public of the Sabres' suckitude/badassitude (whatever the case may be). Photos on The Willful Caboose are used without permission, but do not interfere with said owner's profit. If you own a specific image on this site and want it removed, please e-mail me (willfulcaboose [at] gmail [dot] com) and I will be more than happy willing to oblige. (Special thanks to The Pensblog for their help with this disclaimer.)

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