Archive for the 'Free Agency' Category


labradoodle C

Aw.  Good boy, Pommerdoodle.

I don’t have much time to write right now, but DUDE, what a nice summer it has been as a Sabres fan.  I can’t believe we’re entering the season with all the major players signed and no gigantic question marks on the horizon.  It’s a whole new (happy) world.

Now it’s time to see what they can do.

Teppo’s Back, and He’s Better Than Ever.

Have you ever had a SUPER refreshing glass of water when you didn’t even realize you were all that thirsty? You take that sip, and it leads to a guzzle, and you can feel the water entering your system and it’s just the most delicious, satisfying thing ever? That’s how I felt when I heard Teppo got signed. I miss hockey. I am absolutely parched. Considering it’s August 8th, I’m not sure I could have received a more refreshing bit of hockey news today.


He’s a tall drink of water, alright.

Last year was my first full year as a Sabres fan, so except for the ’07 playoffs I haven’t really seen Teppo in action, but here’s the third post I ever wrote for The Willful Caboose. I’m a Teppo fan. The Sabres often seemed too young and too skittish last year, and say what you want about him, but Teppo is neither of those things.


Thank You, Crunchy.

My Sabres fandom sprouted up during a time when I was struggling to settle into Buffalo. Sure, I had been living in Buffalo for almost six years at the time, but I hadn’t settled down here. Not really. Falling in love with the Sabres helped me take a closer look at Buffalo and all of the wonderful people who live here, and in a very literal way, the Sabres turned Buffalo into my home. At this point, my love for Buffalo encompasses far more than just hockey, but I will always view the Sabres through this sociological lens.

When the entirety of the North American hockey media, including our own local paper, was constantly beating the “no one wants to play in Buffalo” drum all season, well, it effected me on more levels than just hockey analysis. It’s almost difficult to admit how much that…hurt my feelings. I can’t separate my love for the Sabres from my love for Buffalo, and as a result, that type of broad criticism of the team feels almost personal. I know that thinking this way is totally irrational, I do, but at the risk of being way off the mark, I don’t think I’m the only person in town who feels this way. I think the prevailing notion that no player would WANT to live and play here has been hard on us. I know it’s been hard on me.

I feel so much better about that now.

It’s not fair to expect our athletes to embrace or embody Buffalo, but that doesn’t mean I can’t appreciate it when Ryan Miller does it willingly. Don’t get me wrong, I know this is a nice payday for Crunchy, but I don’t think there is any way around the fact that his new contract is a strong statement that all along he wanted to stay here and be a Sabre.

It means so much to me to hear Ryan Miller saying good things about Buffalo. The fact that he likes it here, and that he appreciates how the community embraces the team, well, that means a lot to me. Ryan MIller believes in the current direction of the Buffalo Sabres. That means a lot to me. For the first time in over a year, I feel some real distance from the co-captains debacle. That means a lot to me. I trust Ryan Miller to represent the Sabres well, both on the ice and in the community, and that means a lot to me.

There will be plenty of opportunity to weigh and judge this signing. Soon we will get to analyze, and carry on, and dissect every aspect of the new season, but for today, on July 18th, I’m going to go ahead and simply enjoy Crunchy’s new contract. I don’t give a rip about his cap hit. I really don’t. I’m just glad he’s ours. He’s one of us.


Ryan Miller, our beloved Crunchy, will be a Sabre for the next FIVE YEARS.

I have many thoughts and feelings about this (not the least of which is PLEASE GOD LET THIS BE THE FAMOUS 5/25 DEAL!), but for now we will simply celebrate.


Crunchy Ice Cream

Our fearless leader. Yay!

Yippee Paille!

Excellent. Dan Paille is all tied up for awhile.  That’s just how I like my promising young forwards- contractually obligated to love me remain a Sabre for the foreseeable future.  We’ve also got Clarke MacArther and Mark “Yellow 19″ Mancari signed to their qualifying offers.

Come on, Crunchy.  Everybody’s doing it.

Two Things

1. My love for Jason Smith is dead. As soon as we traded for Rivet I knew that the Gator dream was over. Whatevs. He would have been fun to have around, but he’s a stinky Senator now. He’s slow and old. That’s just what I heard.

2. (alix, please turn away)

Steve Bernier got signed to an offer sheet.

AAAAAAAAAAAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! I really hope that back on July 2nd, the Blues initially called Darcy and were like “Yo, we’re thinking about giving Big Bear a 2.5 million dollar offer sheet. What do you think of that?” And then Darcy was all, “Tell you what, let me trade him to the Canucks first. Then you can screw them over, which I know you want to do.” And then the Blues were like, “Word.” And then Darcy and the Blues dude high-fived and cackled evilly.

Jason Smith Evaluates the Sabres

Dudes. Settle down. Is Brooks Orpik really that big a deal? Personally, I think not.

Look, I wish we had signed some sexy D during the opening of free agency too, but we know that’s not Darcy’s style. He’s told us this repeatedly.

Let’s all take a deep breath and concentrate on more pleasant matters, namely, Jason Smith. WGR is reporting that Jason Smith’s agent has had preliminary talks with the Sabres. Now, “preliminary talks” could mean almost anything, so I think it would be best if we all kept our pants on until further notice, but the WGR article contained one highly interesting tidbit.

“Breeze [Smith's agent] told WGR that Smith has a nine-point criteria for deciding where to sign.”

He has a nine point system, you guys! I love a man with a plan!

As luck would have it, TWC has obtained exclusive rights to Jason Smith’s Patented Nine Point System For Choosing An NHL Team. Please join me in analyzing where Buffalo’s chances of signing Smith stand once the team and city has been through his rigorous nine-point system.

Jason Smith’s Patented Nine-Point System For Choosing An NHL Team:

Point the First: Is the team any good?

Well, define “good”, Mr. Smith. The Sabres can be and often are, quite good. Sometimes they suck though too. They really need some reliable stay-at-home defense, and they need some veteran leadership- which is where you come in. This might be a situation where a guy like you could come in and wind up getting WAY more credit than you probably deserve for turning the team around and getting them back on track. So yes, I have to say that the team IS pretty good, but there is lots of room for improvement. Buffalo’s score: 3 out of 5 chicken wings

Point the Second: Does the city have a major symphony orchestra with many foxy musicians?

We totally have that. Buffalo’s score: 5 out of 5 chicken wings

Point the Third: Can I afford a foxy house in this city?

Dude. On an NHLer’s salary you can buy the foxiest house in all the land. Buffalo has great houses and they are, in comparison to other NHL cities, dirt cheap. Buffalo’s score: 4 out of 5 chicken wings

Point the Fourth: How much of my life will be wasted in traffic jams?

NONE! None of your life will be wasted in traffic jams if you move to Buffalo! Urban flight and economic despair have their advantages, Mr. Smith! Buffalo’s score: 5 out of 5 chicken wing

Point the Fifth: I’m a low key guy. I like to mind my own business. Does this city allow for privacy?

Um, no. Upon arrival in Buffalo, all NHL players are required to turn over all financial statements, personal journals (including the ones from your most embarrassing adolescence), and all existing health records. Every man, woman, and child in Buffalo will recognize you and blog about your every move around town. Furthermore, every time you enter a grocery store or pick up your kid from school, we’re going to “chirp” at you about the power play. The good news is that we are, for the most part, pretty nice. Buffalo’s score: 2 out of 5 chicken wings

Point the Sixth: Does the coach of this team have yellow hair?

Lindy Ruff has the yellowest hair in the business. You will not find a more yellow-haired coach in the NHL. Buffalo’s score: 5 out of 5 chicken wings

Point the Seventh: Will my wife like it there?

Yes. She will. Unless she is lame. Buffalo’s score: 5 out of 5 chicken wings, unless Jason Smith’s wife is lame, in which case 0 out of 5 chicken wings.

Point the Eighth: I’ve always dreamed of signing a contract for 5 years/$25 million. Can I do that here?

No. First of all, you’re too old and slow for that contract. Secondly, no one around here is even sure if the mythical “5 for 25″ actually exists. Rumors of its existence have been floating around since January ’07, but no one has ever actually seen it, much less applied it to an actual Sabres contract. If you want more information on this confusing topic, you’ll have to consult Buffalo’s 5-for-25iologist, Bucky Gleason. Buffalo’s score: 0 out of 5 chicken wings

Point the Ninth: Will the fanbase appreciate my quiet, hard working vibe?

Will we appreciate it? We practically burned the city to the ground when Chris Drury bolted! Not only will we appreciate it, we will fall madly in love with it and hold it tight to our collective bosom. No quiet, hard working vibe shall ever be under-appreciated by the citizenry of Buffalo, NY. Buffalo’s score: 5 out of 5 chicken wings


The Buffalo Sabres scored 34 out of 45 possible chicken wings using Jason Smith’s nine-point system (29 out of 45 if his wife is lame). This is actually a very high score, and the Sabres organization should feel encouraged by the results. Also, while it is not a calculable factor in the nine-point evaluation system, I think that the fact that Jason Smith uses chicken wings as his standard unit of measurement bodes very well for his future with the Buffalo Sabres.

Thoughts On Free Agency, The Morning After

- Maybe I’m reading too many frustrated Sens blogs, but I thought that the word on Wade Redden was that he’s enormously talented, but kind of a fuck-up. I knew he’d be signed, I just thought it would be to a more demure contract. The Rangers really just went for it, didn’t they? Ain’t nothing “demure” going on on Broadway.

- I’m disappointed that Soupy went to the Blackhawks. The contract is goofy long and for goofy money, but he’ll fit in well there, and the Blackhawks are now poised to legitimately stop sucking…..which is fine, because I like the Blackhawks. The Blackhawks were one of those teams I watched a lot of last season after the Sabres game was over and I was flipping around on Center Ice. I think they’re sassy and fun. This feels like when you happily break up with a guy, but then find yourself unexpectedly jealous when he starts seeing someone else. I mean, no, I don’t want Soupy (not at that price), but I guess I don’t want anyone else to have him either. Why oh WHY didn’t he sign that contract in Minsk?!

- You know who I do kind of want? Jason Smith. I like the cut of that guy’s gib.

- Speaking of Jason Smith…it’s probably a good thing I’m not in charge of the Sabres, because if I were, we’d probably have an entire team of rugged “character” guys.

- Speaking of how I refuse to see reason when talking about how to build a successful team…free agency day is a stark reminder that, at least for now, I just like rooting for the Sabres. I would rather err on the side of “YAY! Patrick Lalime is hot and he’s NOT T-Bone! WOOOOO!!,” then “We should have nabbed Auld.” That’s just how I roll. Maybe in a few more years I’ll be more prone to lapses of crankiness. Perhaps I haven’t suffered enough yet.

- Hossa signed with Detroit for….one year? That’s totally weird.

- Dallas fans, please accept my most sincere condolences.  At times like this there is really not much to say except that I am just so so so so sorry about Sean Avery.  Maybe it’s true what they say, and you WON’T hate him when he’s on your team.  Maybe?

- Crunchy still hasn’t signed. I’ve decided that I’m going to press the “panic” button on Monday. You’ve been warned. The countdown begins……

Happy Day

In three little hours, free agency will begin.

Last year, this was a terrible day. It was a “worst case scenario” kind of day. It was also the day that I was truly born as a Buffalo sports fan. Anyone can call themselves a Sabres fan during a deep playoff run, but July 1st was my first glimpse of the flip side, the dark side, of all that incredible energy of the Sabres postseason. But we all survived free agency ’07. It wasn’t pretty, but it’s a year later, and Buffalo is still standing. We made it!

It’s a whole new world now. Goose is already signed, and the feeling in the air is that Crunchy is not far behind. Darcy has been all over the Buffalo media saying things like, “Don’t expect dramatic free agency signings from us, yo. That’s not how we roll,” and I’m fine with that. At the very least, we know that free agency won’t leave us devastated and demolished. Frankly, that’s good enough for me this year.

Free agency will be fun. It’s fun to watch other teams do boneheaded things.




Four more years!
Four more years!
Four more years!

*confetti tossing*

…A Blog About the Buffalo Sabres

Observations 2
I can be reached at: willfulcaboose [at] gmail [dot] com

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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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