Small Request

I spent a lot of time trying to write a post today.  I tried a funny one, I tried a serious one, I even tried an angry one.  But all of those posts felt forced and unfocused.   After trying to blog for awhile I realized that, basically, I feel really off-kilter about the Sabres.  Uneasy.  I don’t have a clear sense of what actually happened with Kennedy, nor am I able to use solid, grown-up logic to explain the deep sense of disappointment I feel towards Sabres management.

All I know is that after Darcy’s press conference I felt really, genuinely icky about the Sabres.

Maybe this is just one of those times when the business of sports is difficult to swallow as a fan, or maybe something much more gross and/or pathetic is going on with the Sabres, but honestly, I’m not sure I care.  The bottom line is this: I love the Sabres, but I don’t want to be losing faith in them in August. If I’m going to lose faith, I want it to be during the season, in person, while I’m paying perfectly good money to sit in my seats at the arena.

So, please do me a favor, Darcy.  I’m begging you.  No more press conferences until October.  I’m TRYING to suspend my disbelief over here, and you’re making it really difficult.

13 Responses to “Small Request”

  1. 1 Patty August 4, 2010 at 7:02 am

    People are all worked up because this is a hometown boy. Seriously, Kennedy did not do anything last year to wow us, and if he wasn’t from Buffalo would people really be this upset? Maybe it’s because I am removed from the city at the moment, but I don’t hate Darcy for this. It sounds like he tried to get Timmy signed but TK thought he was worth more than Sabres wanted to pay him. I mean c’mon…one year in the big league, not really anything to wow us, and he thinks he should be paid more than $800,000? $800,000 is a lot of money to live at home with Mom & Pop in BUFFALO. Darcy is saying no way Timmy – we told you this might happen. Someone will pick him up (although they are not going to pay him $1M either because he’s not worth that much yet). I definitely want Ennis on this team next year, and if Kennedy had to go then so be it. I wish him all the luck in the world, but he could be here if he really wanted to be.

  2. 2 sabredances August 4, 2010 at 8:54 am

    I felt the same way you did at first. I’m picking out mini-pack games and it’s like ugh, do I even want to give these guys my money?

    But I feel better now. I think you have to look at it like this: Kennedy was in it for the money too. He can say all he wants about what a dream it is to play for the team he rooted for growing up, but in the end he squeezed every penny he could get out of the organization. And the bottom line is Tyler Ennis is better than Tim, and getting rid of him gives us flexibility to tweak our roster during the season, at the trade deadline, etc.

  3. 3 Katebits August 4, 2010 at 9:10 am

    Hi Patty! I would argue that this came down to Kennedy vs. Gerbe, not Kennedy vs. Ennis, and personally I can’t begrudge a player for assuming a team would pay an arbitration award that was only $200,000 over what the team offered…no matter what the GM said while negotiating. But other than that, when looking at the situation objectively, I don’t disagree with most of what you said. I agree, TK rolled the dice with arbitration and he lost. Tough break, kiddo.

    I guess my sense of unease and disappointment is much broader than them buying out Tim Kennedy. Darcy said they’re over their self imposed budget right now, which means there are likely no other FA coming AND that they’re worried about saving money. I also think it’s safe to assume that Darcy found no market at all for any of our “top six”. That whole press conference yesterday just kind of reinforced the notion that the Sabres are often one step behind, constantly reacting and whining about the unfairness of the market/CBA/arbitration. So, we’re a small market team with little ability to draw FAs, our year-to-year goal seems to be “don’t suck,” rather than “Win the Cup,” our GM (for a variety of reasons) is unable to trade players he preeetty much said publicly he doesn’t want on the team anymore, and our owner could not care less as long as the money adds up to his liking. Add all that to the (admittedly, overly emotional) sense that somehow four years of organizational mistakes came down on the head of a rookie from South Buffalo, and it made for a depressing press conference.

    But I’m not, like, burning my season ticket invoice or anything. Heh.

  4. 4 S. Tooth August 4, 2010 at 9:21 am

    I think I actually finally understand the rationale that went into this decision, although I don’t agree with it. Stay with me:
    1. The Sabres really really like their core. Meaning their top six and not any of the prospects coming up now. That definitely also extends to Miller and maybe to Gaustad and Kaleta. Why? Probably because of 05-06 and 06-07, as misguided as that seems. Believe it or not, and I wholeheartedly disagree, but I think the powers that be legitimately believe that Roy, Vanek, Connolly and Pominville can lead them to the promised land.
    2. The Sabres think Tyler Ennis should be in the top six. Better believe that Lindy had a big say in this. They think that he can play with Roy and Vanek on the top line. No argument here.
    3. The Sabres need a third line center. This is I think more important than most people realize, and it has been for awhile. I think when they brought Kennedy up, they were hoping that he would be a perfect third line center. It would be a way of reducing pressure on him, getting him acclimated to the NHL and maybe find a scoring touch if things went well, as well fulfilling a key need for the team. Third line center is really key to Lindy’s defensive system. Kennedy coming up last year was the reason I think Paille was traded. Hecht failed as third line center (although he’s better along the boards), and Gaustad was overmatched. The Sabres went out and got Niedermayer which was a good move, as he’s a really good fit for third line center. As for Kennedy at third line center, he did fine, but it’s clear he’s a better winger. I actually think if he did better at faceoffs last year, he might still be on the team.
    4. The Sabres think Stafford is better than Kennedy, and he would be more expensive to get rid of. This is where I think money entered into the equation. I don’t agree that Stafford is better but apparently, the Sabres disagree. He is bigger in stature, and the team seems to be mostly shifting in that direction. They could have traded Stafford but with the market being the way it is, they’d get bupkis in return. They’d better hope that his time in Minnesota this summer with Okposo and Parise pay off.
    5. The Sabres didn’t think the Weber was good enough to play for them this year. This is also sort of earth-shattering. Weber has been in the system for awhile now, and I think this summer has been an indictment of where he is. In all fairness, if he played better in Portland, I think he could have absolutely forced his way onto the roster. While by all accounts he had a solid season last year, he was not an AHL worldbeater. By giving Leopold and Morrisonn two year contracts, the Sabres will hope by that time they’ll get some prospects who are ready in Portland. They don’t want to bring up their D prospects too hastily, as they probably now think they did with Butler.
    6. The Sabres have their own self-imposed cap. This is not news. We’ve known they’ve had this for years. And while it’s frustrating given Mr. Golisano’s wealth, it’s his team, and that’s the way he chooses to run it. I think the Sabres are also banking again on a new CBA already. In order to address the needs on Defense, someone had to go.
    So where does that leave Tim Kennedy? Not on the team. He was the easiest to get rid of this summer, especially since Patrick Kaleta has a very specific skillset that would be hard to replace. I don’t think the Sabres are being cheap. I think it’s more about fitting what the Sabres think they need on their team. I would be pretty happy about the summer if it were Drew Stafford or Nathan Gerbe on his way out, so I agree with what they did, if not for their specific evaluation of the various players. I don’t like what happened, but now I think I understand it.

  5. 5 Katebits August 4, 2010 at 9:43 am

    sabredances, I totally agree. Kennedy was trying to get paid. No question.

    S Tooth, thanks for your detailed comment! I like a lot of these point- particularly the one about Weber.

    I disagree with a few things- primarily, I don’t understand why so many people are viewing this as “Kennedy or Ennis”. Ennis was always going to be on the team. Ennis has definitely always been ahead of Kennedy on the depth chart. Kennedy leaving makes room for Gerbe, not Ennis. In my mind Gerbe and Kennedy are kind of a toss-up, with Gerbe being the cheaper option.

    I also think that Darcy and Lindy lost a lot of faith in the top 6 during the playoffs. After the Boston series Darcy pretty much told us that big changes were on the way. I think Darcy absolutely would’ve moved someone if he could have, but he couldn’t pull it off. It’s all the same to us as fans(we’ve got this top 6 either way), but your theory casts Darcy as stubborn (possibly delusional :P) and my theory casts Darcy as incapable of making the deals he needs to make in order to put the best team on the ice. Pick your poison, I guess.

  6. 6 S. Tooth August 4, 2010 at 10:00 am

    Yeah I realize in rereading my post that I made Darcy look a little delusional. I guess what I meant more is that they didn’t get what they thought they should in return by trading anyone the top six. I doubt Vanek is on the block, but I wouldn’t have been surprised if Connolly and Roy were. I heard passing rumors (of totally untested veracity) that the Rangers, for example, would have been interested in Connolly. Who would the Sabres want from the Rangers? Gaborik? Not happening. Drury? Perhaps, but not at his salary. Callahan? I’d like it, but he doesn’t play Center. I think short of some of the big names out there, they wouldn’t give up a Connolly or Roy, because they honestly think he’s worth more, or a high draft pick. They are both, according to Darcy, top 20 centers in the league.
    I still don’t think there’s any room for Gerbe on the team unless someone gets hurt. I think Stafford will probably be stuck on the third line with Niedermayer and Grier, unless he gets traded somehow. I don’t think it’s strictly a Kennedy versus anyone else thing or even a matter of priorities. It’s a matter of what Kennedy’s skillset is and whether they think they already have that. Kennedy is more of a set up guy and Gerbe and Ennis are more pure goalscorers. They feel like Kennedy’s skills have already been addressed on the team I think.

  7. 7 Katebits August 4, 2010 at 10:03 am

    But, I should also say, I wrote this post in the immediate aftermath of the press conference yesterday when I was feeling pretty low about the Sabres. I feel better already today, and I don’t see any reason why we should let this or any other Sabres-related issue ruin our day. It’s still summer!

  8. 8 Katebits August 4, 2010 at 10:12 am

    Are you assuming that McCormick plays for the Sabres next year, S Tooth? I was assuming he’s in Portland. Meaning the Sabres swapped Kennedy, Mair, and Ellis for Ennis, Gerbe, and Niedermayer. That puts them at a 21 man roster. (Assuming they don’t call up Weber and have 8 d-men on the roster.)

    I see what you’re saying about Darcy. So, I think realistically he a combination of delusional AND bad at making crucial deals. :D

  9. 9 S. Tooth August 4, 2010 at 10:21 am

    I was assuming McCormick was going to be on the Sabres. I was guessing that’s why Mair and Ellis haven’t been resigned. He had more points than Connolly in the playoffs for heaven’s sake. The line of McCormick, Gaustad and Kaleta would be one hell of a fearsome fourth line because they can hit and actually have some scoring ability. I could be wrong, we’ll see.
    I definitely think delusions impacts the Front Officing done on this team. I’ve heard Larry Quinn wax absolutely Puck-Bunny rhapsodic way too many times about Tim Connolly’s abilities to the point where I don’t think I’d be that shocked if he was even resigned to a longer term deal this year.

  10. 10 Patty In CT August 4, 2010 at 10:26 am

    Hi – sorry to jump in, but I’m pretty sure Darcy did say they were planning on having 8 d-men on the roster so that figures into the numbers. I kind of hope they do have McCormick up here, but my guess is that it will be McCormick vs. Gerbe vs. anyone else getting that last spot on the 4th line. Ennis is basically in based on Darcy’s comments yesterday, unless he has a bad camp. Also, and I may get ripped on this one, but I don’t think the Sabres are cheap. Of course they have a budget, but it is higher than it was last year at this time, so Sabres are not a cheap team. They juat don’t always spend it wisely (Tim Connolly), and hindsight is 20/20.
    God, it would be great to get Connolly over to the Rangers. My coworkers in NY are all waiting for us to give them someone of the caliber of the last few years (Kotalik, Kalinin, etc). That would have been awesome.

  11. 11 Katebits August 4, 2010 at 10:45 am

    I don’t think the Sabres are necessarily cheap either. I think their margin for profitability is depressingly narrow, and they’ve got some bad contracts on the books. The combination of those two things means that now they’re making hockey decisions based on what amounts to (in the world of pro sports) very little money. It’s reasonable, but it’s depressing as a fan.

    Last night on Twitter Kevin floated the VERY compelling idea that this is about cash flow. If you assume that Golisano has cut the Sabres off (meaning he told them, “you bitches better balance the books because you’re not getting any money from me”), then the cash money the Sabres save by ditching Kennedy DOES become more important. Take his million dollar salary off the books by buying him out for $333,333 over two years, and you’ve freed up roughly $850,000 cash this season.

  12. 12 Patty In CT August 4, 2010 at 2:29 pm

    That makes sense. Man, it is so great to be talking about hockey again!!! I cannot wait for the season to start. I’m upbeat about picking up Shaone fancy spelling Morrisonn. I think the team will actually look a little different next year.

  13. 13 Doc August 19, 2010 at 10:06 pm

    “Buffalo became the first team in NHL history to buy out a player who went to arbitration.”

    Wow, way to go dipshits. This offseason = FAIL. They signed a bunch of washed up or injured windbags (the shittier of the two Niedermayers, and a guy who has a knee injury?) and let Kennedy go (one of our better players in the playoffs). Um, what? They signed MANCARI (1 goal) instead of Kennedy (10 goals)? WOW. FAIL.

    Kennedy got burned by arbitration? EXCUSE ME? No, THE SABRES got burned by letting Kennedy go to arbitration. Arbitration suggests what a player is worth, and the Sabres tried to beancount a $1mil player.

    And I’m glad to see we still haven’t signed a legit guy for our “top line”. All the balanced scoring in the world didn’t mean jack when we didn’t even win a round in the playoffs this past year. We need a REAL top line. Face it, we haven’t gone after anybody amazing since we started building the 05/06 team. This team has been a bunch of 2nd liners pretending to be star players, with Miller bailing us out almost every night. Why didn’t we sign Whitney, or Stempniak, or anybody from the Chicago firesale? The Sabres Front Office is a JOKE! We’ll be lucky to go 1.5 rounds next year!

    And as far as Kennedy goes, I hope he gets signed by Chicago, wipes the floor with us all next year and wins a Cup with Kane.

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