Archive for the 'Steve Montador' Category

You Say Goodbye, And I Say Hello.

Okay, the initial burst of free agency is over, and while we’re all still holding our breaths for the magical all-our-bad-players-in-exchange-for-Malkin trade of our dreams, it’s time to take stock of the current situation. Who’s in and who’s out?

______

OUT: Mark Mancari

Mark Mancari, I absolutely refused to give up on you, and I’m sad you’ve moved on.  I’ll miss you… not so much your playing (which always seemed super fabulous to me, actually), but definitely your tall swarthiness.  Good luck in Vancouver, and don’t party too hard at the Roxy.

Mark Mancari

Now the Sabres don't have a player who looks like he might moonlight as a pirate. :(

_______

IN: Robyn Regehr

I’m totally, totally psyched that we’re going to have a stay-at-home, punchy defenseman named “Robyn” on the Sabres.  Thanks for waiving your no trade clause, Robyn. Please let me apologize in advance for your new nickname, which is “Sloth”. Yes, you do remind me a teensy-tiny bit of that guy from the Goonies, but I assure you, “Sloth” is a term of affection at my house.  There is no one I’d rather have on my side in case of a Mama Fratelli-related emergency than you, Robyn. Welcome to the team!

"Baby Ruuu-th?"

______

OUT: Rob Niedermayer

Dude Nieds, I finally learned how to spell your name, and then you had to go and move to Switzerland.

Well, thanks for that one goal you scored that one time! (No, but seriously, thanks for getting waaaay better in the playoffs. That was awesome. Hopefully some of these scrubs learned a thing or two from you.)

He's the best looking of all the Niedermayers!

______

IN: Ales Kotalik

Wait….what?

Um...okaaaay.

______

OUT: Steve Montador

This one stings a bit. There are just some guys you like, and Steve Montador is one of those guys. I wanted him to stay, and I feel a little bit like Monty got the shaft. I mean, he was totally a part of the Sabres bridge from suckiness to not-so-suckiness, and it doesn’t feel fair that he got the heave-ho. On the other hand he signed a FAT contract in Chicago, so I think he’ll survive without us just fine. (I fully expect for Monty to start showing up in the background of all the, “Patrick Kane Is On Another Bender” articles on Deadspin. As the designated driver, or course.) Good luck, Monty. Thanks for being all-around awesome, and also for wearing that CHIPS outfit at the Catwalk for Charity.

Shaone Morrisonn and Steve Montador

Nice

IN: Ville Leino

Ville Leino, I have a good feeling about this signing, but man, Darcy took a big chance on you. I know that when Darcy said, “I’d like to offer you $27 million dollars, but only if you like playing center,” the only sane response was, “I don’t like playing center, I LOVE playing center,” but, you better be good at playing center. Seriously.

I don’t really know how to tell you this, but you’re sort of the new Vanek in that we-can’t-afford-anyone-else-because-we-gave-all-our-money-to-you sort of way.

Uh, no pressure or anything though.

This expression bodes well.

OUT: Tim Connolly

Bye, Timmeh. Thanks for… everything. I wish things had ended differently, I really do. Mostly I wish you’d gone to, like, the Panthers or some team like that, so I could safely say “good luck,” but now you’re a disgusting Leaf, so you’ve left me no choice but to say, “I hope you never win again.”

Timmm-mehhh

IN: Christian Ehrhoff

This is the contract that really signaled that this is a new era of Sabres hockey. This contract completely blew my mind. Ehrhoff’s contract is mega-cap-circumvent-y and it (theoretically) extends until the end of time.The assumption is that eventually they’ll just buy him out, but still. It completely rocks my world-view that of all the current Sabres, Ehrhoff is the one slated to be around for the longest. In ten years I’ll be forty-five years old which is impossibly old. Surely I’ll be dead by then, right?

Get used to this face, because we’re going to have hoverboards before his contract is up again.

OUT: Chris Butler

There is NOTHING not to love about Chris Butler. I’ll miss you, Butts. Have fun in Calgary, and thanks for being such a good Sabre. I’m sorry I don’t have much to say about you, but this post is going on forever, and I’m really getting tired of writing it. The good thing about you is that I doubt you’ll mind. You seem like such a good sport about this sort of thing.


Good old Butts.

______

So, that’s where we stand. We’ve said our goodbyes, and we’ve welcomed the newcomers. I, for one, am ready for the new season to begin!

9 Things

1. I’m back (from camp), and I’m better than ever.

2. The end of Apple Hill usually coincides with start of the NHL free agency, which tends to contribute to my post-camp malaise. Leaving summer camp is sad, and watching other teams improve while the Sabres trot out Darcy for his bi-annual announcement about “building through the draft” doesn’t help matters at all. BUT THIS YEAR IS DIFFERENT! This year we have Richie Rich in our corner, and damn it, Terry Pegula gets his man. I honestly don’t have any idea what to expect, but I doubt I’ll be bored and/or horrified on July 1st this year.

3. On the other hand…. I know we’re all flush with excitement over the prospect of signing everyone and their mother on Friday, and lord knows it’s a good feeling, but I feel a responsibility to remind people that the free agent pool sucks donkey butt this year. It’s frustrating, but it’s true. (Yesterday I made a joke on Twitter wishing for the 2007 free agent pool instead of the 2011 free agent pool, and not only did no one laugh, but one person told me it was the most depressing tweet she’d ever read. Too soon?)

Brad Richards is going to command STUPID money, not because he’s worth stupid money but because he’s the best available option if you want to spend stupid money (which we kinda do).

So, the situation is a little confusing. Part of me wants the Sabres to just go nuts and get the best available guy, and another part of me is all, “Hold up. That’s the dumbest idea in the world.” Settling for the best available guy is how people (and teams) wind up in horrible, loveless marriages. We shouldn’t get married just for the sake of getting married. Is Brad Richards really the guy for us?  I dunno.

4. I appears that Steve Montador will be hitting the open market on Friday and this makes me feel hurt, angry, and confused.

5. Hey, thanks for waiving your no-trade clause, Robyn Regehr! We hope you like it here. We’ll do our best not to be too annoying (no promises there). Call me if you or any of your children need viola lessons.

6. The Flyers are fucking crazy. As in, C-R-A-Z-Y.

7.  The Honey Badger, aka Tenacious G, aka Lil’ Gerbs, aka Nathan Gerbe signed a very cap friendly, 3-year deal $4.3 million deal today. Honey Badger, call me if you ever need viola lessons.

8. The Sabres bought the Amerks and had a big happy press conference about it today.  Terry Pegula and Ted Black continue be all sassy and loveable and seemingly perfect in every way. We learned the following things:

  • Amerks season tickets are going to cost, like, 12 cents, so everyone should run out and purchase them as fast as you can.
  • We will now be referring to the Amerks as “The University of Hockey,” which is straight-up adorkable. I would like to offer my services teaching viola lessons as an elective credit to the future Sabres. I assume that the U of H understands the value of viola playing to young hockey players.
  • When (when, not if) the Sabres win the Cup, Rochester gets a parade too. Or… our parade might go all the way to Rochester. Something like that. The details of the parade will be worked out later, and this is already skating a waaaaaay too close to “planning the parade” for my tastes, so, moving on…

9. Every year at Apple Hill there is a hotly contested ping-pong tournament, the winner of which is awarded the “Apple Hill Cup”. I can’t believe I’ve never blogged about this before, because look at the Cup. We write the names of the winners on it and everything.

It's basically exactly the same as the Stanley Cup except it hasn't been befouled by the Bruins.

 

Blah Blah Blah Sabres Blah Blah

I recently read a good post on Black Dog Hates Skunks about the Oilers and how they may or may not handle the trade deadline.  The basic premise of the post is this: If you want to build a better team, keep the good players you have, and get more good players when you can.  This makes sense to me, because it’s logical and sane.  (Incidentally, I really recommend adding Black Dog Hates Skunk to your RSS feed.  Most of his posts are divided into two parts.  The first part is usually a story about himself or his family.  The stories are oddly heartwarming despite the fact that they’re 95% about drinking beer, making babies, or being generally unruly.  The second part is usually about the Oilers, and if you’re like me, and you don’t care about the Oilers, it’s easy to skip.)

I’ll admit, there is a part of me that wants to believe in the “blow it up” philosophy.   Blowing it up sounds satisfying, but what if it doesn’t work?  If you blow it up and you STILL stink, then what?

For the good of the bottom-line, I think it’s important for the Sabres to stay at least semi-competitive.  I don’t think the Sabres would be wise to take the Penguins/Blackhawk route, because, well, sucking that hard would….suck.  No fun.

Anyhooch, Black Dog’s post got me thinking seriously about the Sabres and who I think is realistic trade bait, and who I think the Sabres should keep.  I do think the Sabres should be sellers, but they should sell with the idea of getting better next year.  No need to blow anything up, m’kay Darcy?

We’ve got a few categories of players:

Players that I would consider addition by subtraction:

Hecht
Connolly
Rivet
Grier
Niedermayer
Lalime

The only players on this list that any team would even CONSIDER taking off our hands would be Connolly and maaaaybe Grier.   Trouble is, even when healthy, Connolly has been terrible this season, and his stock may have totally plummeted.  If Connolly is still trade-able it’s because GMs are morons….which, you know….they kind of are.  So, *fingers crossed*.  But let’s err on the side of not-getting-our-hopes-up, and assume that all of these players will finish the season as Sabres.  Bummer.  The good news about these guys is that with the exception of Hecht, all of their contracts are expiring this summer.

Untouchables:

Miller
Myers
Vanek
Sekera
Roy

Yeah, I know.  None one of these guys are having particularly great years, but I have faith that they’ll all be worth it in the end.  Even if Myers and Miller never return to 2009/10 form, they’re still very handy players to have around.  I initially thought maybe Darcy should dangle Sekera, but I think he’s developing into a nice little player.   Why should we assume a draft pick is going to be any better at hockey than Sekera?  All of these guys fall firmly into the category of “keep your good players,” if you ask me.  

Babies we should definitely keep:

Ennis
Weber
Adam
Byron

Ennis and Weber have performed admirably this season, and I was impressed with both Adam and Byron during their call-ups.  I’m looking forward to seeing all of these guys play more. These guys fall into the category of “keep your best prospects”.

Veeeerry Interesting players:

I’ll discuss them one by one.

Montador- I think the Sabres should definitely try to keep Montador.  He’s a solid defenseman, he’s surprisingly points get-y, he gives good interviews, and he somehow manages to be hot even when he’s NOT wearing his teeth.  Plus, the Sabres have been bleeding defensemen every summer for as long as I’ve been a fan, and frankly, I don’t think it’s working out too well.  Montador is pretty good.  He’s thrived in Lindy’s system.  Let’s keep him.  If Darcy is not already trying to negotiate with Montador, he’s stupid.   HOWEVER, if the Sabres already know that Monty wants to move on next year, I have to think he’d have some trade value.  In that case (although I would definitely shed a tear), Monty should be traded.

Gerbe- As recently as three weeks ago we all would’ve happily put Gerbe on a bus to Anywhere-But-Here.  Don’t deny it.  You know it’s true.  But little Gerbs is doing us a real solid by stepping up his game recently.  He’s proving that in the right conditions, he can be a productive NHL player.  I saw enough of him in the first half of the season to be veeeerrry skeptical of his abilities, so, I say let’s try to get something, anything, for this guy while the getting is good.

Butler- Someone took Paehcsehtchesch from us last year, so I think someone will take Butler.  Once upon a time I truly loved Butts, but he’s definitely on Lindy’s “unsalvageable” list, so if he can be traded, he should be traded.

Stafford- If he can stay healthy for the next month, I think Staffy is definitely our most valuable trade asset.  He’s big, he’s shown definite signs of being offensively gifted, and he’s got at least one more year of RFA status after his contract expires this summer.  Plus, he’s having a career year.

Staffy has NEVER played with consistency, in the past he’s PROVEN that he can be lazy and distracted (I mean, he’s said OUTLOUD in INTERVIEWS that he might prefer to be a rockstar.  I love you, but for FUCKS SAKE, Staffy!), plus he’s easily injured.  How would giving Stafford a contract now be any different from when Darcy gave Connolly his contract two years ago?  In reality, it would be worse, because at least Connolly had shown signs of near brilliance in previous years.  All Staffy has shown us with consistency is inconsistency.  Signing Staffy now would be the textbook definition of “buying high”.   (And, again, I direct you towards this post at Hockey Rhetoric which compares Stafford to Kotalik in a MOST unsettling way.)

When we rail against Darcy for overvaluing his draftees, we’re talking about guys like Drew Stafford.  I, for one, feel quite comfortable taking the risk that Staffy will go and be awesome for someone else, because honestly, I don’t think he’s going to be awesome for someone else.  I think he’ll be a 15-20 goal scorer for the rest of his career.  He’s useful, but he’s not special.   If the Sabres want to change, they have to ACTUALLY change some of the players (and not just defensemen).  They have to let players go. I think, for better and for worse, Staffy is emblematic of the post-2007 Sabres.  Stafford is part of the “core” that has proven beyond a DOUBT that they can’t get it done. Let’s move him while he’s hot, get something in return, and never look back.

_________

If there’s a player I didn’t mention it’s because I think he’s providing value to the Sabres in one way or another.  (I wasn’t entirely sure how to categorize Pominville until I remembered how terrible the penalty kill was when he was injured at the beginning of the season.  Remember that?  That was not cool.  We may be paying Pominville too much, but he’s definitely providing value.  I never ever ever ever want to watch the PK without him again.)

And on a sidenote, I have no idea what’s come over me in the last few days and compelled me to write such serious posts.  It’s very unlike me.  Hopefully I’ll return to whimsy and bullhonky in the very near future.  Thank you for your patience.

The Bandwagoner’s Guide to the Sabres, Part Two: The Defense

The concept of “the bandwagon fan” is very controversial, but I have a fondness in my heart for the new fan.  After all, it was at this time of year that I myself hopped on the Sabres bandwagon.  Every fan has to start somewhere, and often fandom is inspired by the playoffs.  The current Sabres may not feel like a bandwagon-y situation to a longtime fan, but I’m writing this series for the “Katebitses of 2007″; the guy or gal who is suddenly drawn to the Sabres, but doesn’t know where to begin.

Begin here, Bandwagoner!

____________

Okay, so yesterday we learned about the goalie.  He’s pretty self explanatory (“NONE SHALL PASS,” says the goalie, especially when your goalie is Crunchy.  If your goalie is Toskala, he’s more like, “Oh sure.  Come on in, pucks.)

But what about all the skaters?  To the untrained eye, it looks like a gobbledy mess out there (actually, it looks like that to the semi-trained eye too), but the skaters do have defined roles.

One of those roles is, “the defenseman,” or, for our Canadian friends, “defenceman”.  (Canadians are weird.)

Part Two: The Defense

It’s the job of the defensemen to help guard the net by actively battling with the other team’s players.   Ideally, the defensemen skate around, hitting the other teams forwards and snatching the puck in order to scoot it out of harm’s way.

At any given time, two out of the five skaters on the ice are defensemen. If you’re having trouble spotting the defensemen, look for the guys skating backwards.  That’s usually them.  They’re also the guys who are hanging back at center ice when all the action is down in one end.  When I first started watching hockey I used to get cranky thinking,”That guy is just standing there at the blueline doing nothing. He should go try to score a goal.  Dumbass.” But then I was always pleasantly surprised when the play turned around and there were still Sabres between the other team and our goal.  “Toni Lydman, that was very clever of you to stay back behind the blueline so that the other team can’t skate right up to Crunchy!  You’re so smart!”

Fun Fact about defensemen and defense in general:  You can just call it “D”.  At first it will feel redonk to say “D” (very similar to the first time you said “redonk,” actually), but after a while it rolls right off the tongue.

Defensemen skate in pairs, so every defenseman has a BFF.  Sometimes Lindy (more on Lindy later) mixes the pairs up, but for the most part, the Sabres defensemen are monogamous and loyal to their BFF/life partner.

The Sabres strongest current pairing is Tallinder and Myers.  Tallinder separated from Lydman last season and at first he seemed to be having a REAL rough time, but now he’s found someone younger and sexier and his broken heart seems to be totally mended.

There are two noteworthy things about the Sabres defense.  1. Everyone thought they would be sucky this year, but they’re totally not,  and 2. They are NOT sucky, primarily because of this guy:

Tyler Myers. He's more than just an insanely long neck. He's also very good at hockey.

Tyler Myers is, like, six-years-old.  He’s a wee little baby.  (“Wee” in years, not in size.  He’s actually humongous.)  He’s a wee little baby who is about to win the Calder Trophy.  “Calder Trophy” is NHL-speak for “rookie of the year.”

In my not-at-ALL humble opinion, Tyler Myers is a big deal.  Last year, the Sabres were poo.  THIS year (Myers’ rookie year), the Sabres are third in the Eastern Conference.  Coincidence?  I think not.  In addition to being good at his job, he’s almost singlehandedly rehabilitated Tallinder, which was no small feat.  I used to worry that Myers would get hurt because he’s so spindly, but he seems to have the super-strength of a toddler.  You could toss him down a flight of stairs and I bet he’d just pop right back up and start skating around, no problem.  Tyler Myers is awesome and he’s changed everything about the Sabres.  Love him without reservation.

Here are the other defensemen:

Henrik Tallinder. Smiley, attractive, NOT a good drinking partner.

Toni, Tone, Tony Lydman. Hilarious. Good at hockey except for when he sucks. My favorite defenseman.

Steve Montador. Shockingly hot for a guy who's not that hot. Seems to not be an idiot. All-around alluring.

Craig Rivet. Got elected captain of the team on his first day as a Sabre, probably because he seems like an adult.

Chris Butler. Poor Butts. There is something wrong with him. Hopefully it's just a sophomore slump.

Andrej Sekera. Looks like a little old man for some reason.

In conclusion, the Sabres defense is pretty good and moderately foxy.  Since you’re a Bandwagoner, I am going to recommend that you focus on Myers.  You canNOT be a Sabres fan this spring without knowing that Tyler Myers is young, awesome, tall, and long-necked.  Myers is the most deserving of your bandwagoning affections, but really, all of these guys have their good qualities.  The defense is relatively safe waters for the new fan.

Have fun watching the D, Bandwagoners!

___________

Stay tuned for tomorrow’s installment, when we begin to examine the “forwards”.

Sudden Death Chipotle Challenge, and Other Disgusting Atrocities: A Story in Two Parts

Part One: Last night, Crotchety Original Sam and I tromped out into the icy mess that is St. Paul for our annual Minnesota Wild game at the Xcel Center.  In past years this trip has ended in despair and tears.  (Just kidding, Sam and I ALWAYS have fun, even when the home team sucks rhino ass.)  Guess what?  THE WILD WON!  I’m pretty sure that they were so impressed with my new North Stars t-shirt that they played extra hard.  The Wild are QUITE zippy and fun.

Anyhooch, there we were, wearing sassy retro NHL t-shirts and watching the Wild win, when suddenly during the second intermission, came the “Sudden Death Chipotle Challenge.”  The jokes immediately started flying about the name of this competition and the fate you would suffer if you ate a Chipotle burrito.  (Worst name of intermission game EVER.)  The game involved contestants rapidly identifying pictures of celebrities up on the jumbotron.  The winner would win free burritos for a lucky row in the arena.   I was immediately preoccupied with imagining the meeting at Chipotle headquarters that created this game (“I know, let’s call it “The Sudden Death Chipotle Challenge!”  “Do you really think it’s a good idea to associate our burritos with sudden death, boss?”  “Oh SURE!  Sudden death refers to the GAME, not the food!  I like the name!  It’s folksy!”) to pay much attention to the contestants, and Sam was busy recounting a South Park episode which graphically detailed the terrible fate that would happen to your digestive system if you ate a Chipotle burrito.

But that’s right!  You guess it!  At the end of the contest, section 202, row 9, OUR ROW, was the lucky recipient of the Sudden Death Burritos!   Of all the hundreds of rows in the arena, we had won!  Now, I hate sudden death as much as the next gal, but I LOVE free burritos, so needless to say, I was PSYCHED.  A few minutes later, a pleasant Minnesotan came by and handed out our burrito coupons.  It was joyful.  We were triumphant.

But that’s where the fun ended.

The Sudden Death Chipotle Challenge is a SHAM, people.  First of all, it’s NOT a free burrito, it’s a “buy one get one free”.  It’s HALF of a free burrito.  Second of all, THE COUPON EXPIRES AT THE END OF 12/09.   So, after all of that rigmarole, all I got was a “buy on get one free” coupon that I have to use in the next fifteen minutes before it expires.  I think this is WRONG.

I think this is SO wrong, that I intend to give this coupon to my most hated enemy so that he/she will first have to BUY a burrito only so that he/she will suffer from the SUDDEN DEATH caused by the free one.

(Truthfully, the whole thing was hilarious.  Loudly complaining about our prize brought our row together for lots of laughs.  I suggested that we all throw our Sudden Death Chipotle Challenge Buy-One-Get-One-Free credit card gift certificates onto the ice in protest, but sadly we decided that it would be difficult to hit the ice with a coupon from the upper bowl.)

Moral of the story: Eff you, Chipotle.  Eff you right in the ear.

Part Two: At the end of the Wild game, we scurried back to Sam’s house to watch the Sabres game on DVR delay.  I changed out of my North Stars t-shirt and into a Sabres sweatshirt (I really did this), and we settled in.  Sam got to see my oh-so-delightful-I’m-sure transformation from a happy-go-lucky Wild fan to a nearly-abusive-to-the-players Sabres fan.

A few thoughts on the game:

I think it’s okay to be legitimately concerned about the following things:

1. The overall  lack of energy.  At no point did the Sabres seem pissed at Ruutu.  At no point did anyone seem to care that Roy took an elbow to the head.  At no point did coming from behind seem to create any legitimate momentum.  The Sabres might be better this year, but they’re still lacking in the “fiery passion” department.

2. Tim Connolly and Drew Stafford.  Remember when we all used to wring our hands and saying things like, “Oh, if only Tim Connolly could stay healthy THE SABRES WOULD BE UNSTOPPABLE.”  Did anyone ever stop to consider that someday Timmeh would be able to stay healthy and that he would simply….suck? I don’t even know what to say about Staffy.

3. I know that they got a power play goal, but the power play still looks like a half-eaten Sudden Death Chipotle burrito.  Which is to say, very bad.

4. I’m pretty sure that Lindy put Vanek first in the shootout to reward him for playing a good game, but it was ill-advised.   I know, hindsight is 20/20, but Lindy OBVIOUSLY flew too close to the sun on that one.  Sadly, all the confidence-building good of the game was probably erased when Thomas failed (for the 50 millionth time) to score in the shootout.  Very unfortunate.

The following things are legitimately good:

1. At the start of the game, I said to Sam, “The following players MUST have a good game: Thomas Vanek, Jason Pominville” and then they both scored!  I will try this trick again today.

2. Steve Montador is getting hotter by the day.  Is it just me, or does he always seem to be charging around creating offensive chances and being generally foxy?  Private to Monty: My car mats ALWAYS need shaking.  IfyouknowwhatImean.

3. We should be happy they got a point. That was a bad game, but they’re still leading the division.  I have no experience with the ebb and flow of a successful season.  As a result, I think my spazziness after the bad games is probably a tish excessive, and for that I apologize.  Being a Negative Nellie is not my real-life style, so, let’s be thankful for this point.  Let’s love this point like it’s the best point in the world.  Last year the Sabres missed the playoffs by two points. Maybe this point that we inexplicably squeezed out the Ottawa game was one of those points that we will really need later on.

Moral of the story: There is another Sabres game in a few hours.  I’m going to forgive them for yesterday, but if they look like disinterested poo again, I’m sending my Sudden Death Chipotle Buy-One-Get-One-Free credit card coupon to the Sabres locker room.  That’ll teach ‘em.

A Christmas Vision

I find myself quite intrigued by the idea of Steve Montador shaking out my car mats and then vacuuming up the dust.


…A Blog About the Buffalo Sabres

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

For All Your Facebook “Needs”

Categories

puck goggles
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.)

Pages


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 66 other followers