So hey there! I learned this morning that I’ve “graduated” from my trial period and will soon be getting my name on the little sidebar thing over there full time. I’d like to thank everyone for the opportunity, and I hope to do them proud until I graduate to Deadspin or Trending Buffalo!
I had no plans to write anything until at least the NHL Draft because I heard once you get a full time gig here, you don’t actually have to write, you just sorta hang out and make fun of people on Twitter. But then Bucky Gleason decided to regurgitate his annual GM For A Day column and I couldn’t resist busting into the old blogger standby and giving it the Fire Joe Morgan treatment. I also want you to know that after doing this, I clearly hate myself and I’m apologizing in advance for making you read part of a Bucky Gleason article.
Let's get on with it.
It's a celebration, bitches.
With Yachtsman covering the bases yesterday with his mouth diarrhea gem of a post,
you'd think I would consider the Deeg's coverage of Derek Roy's departure from the Sabres complete. Nay, good sirs and ladies, for I am hungover at work and can't possibly be trusted with actual responsibilities but want to feel like I accomplished something today. Count yourselves lucky, trust me.
Besides, this is really the only topic I can blab on about, since I can't possibly write about Dickey after Yachtsman threw down the gauntlet on that topic. I'm nothing if not spiteful, even if it does necessitate rehashing a topic that has certainly received enough attention this week. (Sidebar: Yachtsman's joke about me asphyxiating myself while watching Mets' games was both hilarious and accurate in its own way. I'll leave it to you to decide which way that is.
One of my favorite things to do lately is watch the fans of Sabreland trip over themselves in a fury of anger and resentment at Darcy Regier, fueling a prevailing wisdom that tells us that he's simply incapable of making this team better. So when free agency approached and people stomped their feet about the need for a big splash and their assumption that such would not come, it set the stage for another moment of shock as Darcy inevitably did something
. Maybe not the big splash we had hoped for - and that we still hope for - but a move that is terribly satisfying to all but the most homer of Buffalo sports fans. With Derek Roy shipped out, we learned - yet again - to chill the fuck out and let things take their course, and to never trust anything Paul Hamilton says, even if it affirms our belief that Derek Roy is an overvalued hack just like, well, Paul Hamilton.
Entrenched analysts with zero credibility! #becauseitsbuffalo
Roy being traded to Dallas, and the Sabres picking up two - TWO! - players in return is yet another reminder that Darcy Regier is, when he wants to be, a straight up wizard in the player market. Does he drug opposing GMs? Did he replace 2011-12 game tape with archived footage of the point-per-game Derek Roy from 2010-11? Is Darcy actually competent - gasp! - when backed by ownership with the desire and bank roll to make a legitimate bid for a Stanley Cup? Moments like Monday, when our shared desire for change suddenly came to light, prove that Darcy might not be the ineffectual villain we sometimes make him out to be. As a basement-dwelling, venomous blogger, this is a sad realization, as it's certainly more fun and satisfying to throw everyone under the bus as I commiserate over failed season after failed season. So sad that many of our brethren are, after receiving the Roy trade they've so long pined for, right back at the work bench, writing off Darcy's career in Buffalo and calling this move - as is any move post-July 1, 2007 - too little, too late. For me, though, things are not so black and white.
Neither, to be fair, was it black and white that Roy needed to go. As much as we like to rag on him for his white suits and Kangol hats and mandles and propensity for sexual assault (maybe?), the guy was also a key cog in the successful times of the past decade, such as they were. There was a time, probably about a year ago, when I thought we were seeing Derek Roy turn a new leaf. His production in 2010-11 was impressive, even accounting for his limited availability due to injuries, and - unlike the skewed stats of some others on the team who had brief stretches of absurd production in the midst of utter mediocrity (*cough* *stafford* *cough*) - Roy was showing us something night in and night out. History of diving and half-assing it down the ice aside, I was hopeful. Shocker, I know, for the Viceroy of Hyperbole, but it honestly seemed like anything was possible in this new town of Pegulaville, even an apparent prima donna finally earning his fucking paycheck.
Your guess is as good as mine as to where that brief glimpse of quality went. Last year we had what was arguably the worst version of Roy. He wasn't just bad. We was invisible. With an "A" on his chest, he seemed to wilt as the team's #1 center following an off-season where so much hype surrounded whether we even had a #1 center. Speculation - my favorite! - is that he grew tired of Lindy Ruff and maybe tanked his play to ensure that long-rumored trade. If that's true - and who the fuck knows if it is or if Roy had just had enough of the poon down at SoHo - he may be a great player after all, but he's also the worst kind of shit head. Good fucking riddance.
Not our problem no more.
The obvious downside, to the extent I'm forced to concede any downside at losing a guy who seemingly exists only to take idiotic penalties and show off his sweet dangles, bro, is that we just lost our best center. This, as we know, is sad on multiple levels, not the lest of which is that our "best" center licked donkey balls like it was going out style. (Sidebar: donkey ball licking NEVER goes out of style. Just ask Aps. BURN!). Left to fill Roy's underachieving skates, then, are a bunch of centers who are young and/or unproven and/or apparently talent-less and/or already scared of Lindy. Not the greatest back-up plan. Though, if you want to be positive about a roster of players who missed the Stanley Cup playoffs again or who played on an Amerks team that got straight-up owned in the first round of the Calder Cup playoffs, I can accept that. I do hope, though, that you think before you open your mouth, because there's a fair chance you're a moron.
Of course, Roy's departure wasn't just about getting rid of our favorite whipping boy. Steve Ott, the returning player in the Roy trade, adds a lot of good things to the roster. He's a decent point producer for a player who fills the role of "grinder" - certainly better than Paul Gaustad for the same price, basically - and if you credit his WGR interview from Tuesday morning, he's pumped to be coming to Buffalo. (Suck on THAT, Dallas, what with your championships and gorgeous cheerleaders and oil money and... FUCK). Of course, no one has any clue whether Ott will perform well in Buffalo or whether we'll have another severe drop-off in play like some of the other recent acquisitions post-Pegula. If nothing else, though, even if he's not the answer to the Sabres dysfunctional roster and even if he never contributes half as much as Roy did, I'd prefer to have someone who actually wants to play as a Sabre than one who consistently demonstrated that he could just as easily quit in favor a long-overdue career as a hand model.
As for the other new faces on the roster (for now) - Adam Pardy, John Scott and, just this afternoon, Kevin Porter - the untrustworthy prevailing wisdom is that none of them are really fit to be a consistent presence on an NHL team. Porter, from what I've read in the 15 minutes since the news of his signing broke, won the Hobey Baker back in 2008 and has had only marginal success since he entered the league. John Scott, to his credit, is rumored to eat children and make Boston Bruins pee their pants, so I can't really see any downside at $600,000. And Adam Pardy, well ... he's pretty big and pretty tall and probably plays defense better than Mike Weber, so I'm ok with that as well. Worst case, they all get to have their pictures taken in the Andrew Peters Memorial Pressbox, right? (Sidebar: "Memorial" in reference to Peters' upside, which perished sometime in 2006; happily, Andy Bear the man is still alive and well).
Fact is, the Sabres probably aren't done, especially since so many people probably suspect that they are, and no matter if they're done or not, the roster is still filled with so many head cases that are being ruined by Lindy Ruff that none of it will matter and the team will flame out to another 10th place finish come April, 2013.
Or, that's at least what we'll keep telling ourselves, right?
Let me get this out of the way right from the start. More than any of the members on our illustrious crew, I’m not smart enough to assess what Robyn Regehr and Christian Ehrhoff mean to this team on the ice, but I certainly know what it means for this franchise. The change that Pegula spoke of is not an illusion. And maybe, just maybe, Darcy Regier really has been shackled for all these years.
Management made it no secret heading into this off season that defenders and centers were their primary focus. But talk has become cheaper than a taco truck for Buffalo recently. These two moves by the Sabres, trades that heaped a considerable yet logical amount of new debt onto the payroll, show that rather than addressing needs by picking up bargain journeyman or overspending irrationally, the Sabres are ready to take drastic but calculated measures in their quest for a Cup. Regehr & Ehrhoff alone won’t get us there, but it’s a great start. Fans were already excited for July 1st. Now they’re planning parties.
The happiest teammate in all this must be ‘Captain America’, Ryan Miller. I’m sure he of all people has been annoyed at how little has been done to ensure that he is properly protected. Drafting Myers and McNabb is great, but to truly assist Miller and the rest of the team’s run at glory, the Sabres’ front office needed to make moves like these.
But not only have these moves improved the Sabres for next season, they also help the Sabres’ chances at signing the free agent of their (and our) dreams. Before the free agent period has even started, Pegula & Co. have made major, bona fide deals, announcing to the NHL (and more importantly, Brad Richards) once and for all that when Terry said he wanted to build a Stanley Cup winner, he meant just that. The leash seems to be off Regier and he has not wasted any time. So if you were a free agent looking for a team on the rise, perhaps Buffalo is worth just as much of a look as anywhere else.
I don’t mean to belittle Buffalo when I say that. But we all know that when headline free agents have hit the market the past few years, we rarely bother holding our breath. By noon tomorrow, people may pass out. Rumors are already starting to trickle out on Twitter that Regier is ready to open the bidding with a 5-year, $50 million offer for Brad Richards, the jewel of 2011 free agency.
A little while back on our one-night-bender, I mean, NYC Sabres Summit, the DGWUS crew took an informal poll asking what Richards could mean for the team. Scizz & Yachter thought Richards could equal a Cup right away, while the Barrister & I believed more talent was needed to break through. But today, it’s hard to argue that signing a top-level center tomorrow wouldn’t be enough to throw our hat in with the other Stanley Cup contenders for next season.
Ok, so maybe it’s a little early to start booking hotel rooms near HSBC Arena next June, but this is about as exciting as Buffalo Sabres hockey can get outside of a rink.
In Terry We Trust.
Every member of the DGWU Crew after the bender that was the 2011 NHL Playoffs
It's that time of year again ladies and gents. No, not for ridiculously wordy blog post titles, but it's the dreaded off-season. The Sabres are out of the playoffs, the draft is over and the Bills are awaiting the beginning of their upcoming season (if it ever happens), and I'm forced to watch baseball again because IT IS ALL THIS CITY TALKS ABOUT MAY THROUGH OCTOBER!!!!!!!!!
Alright, now that I have got that off my chest, here is your DGWU sports guide to the 2011 Buffalo off-season. Note that nothing about the NBA will appear here because of the Apologist's excellent post
from yesterday. I Could not have done it better myself....because I'm an idiot who still thinks Theo Ratliff and Adonal Foyle have potential. I also have a bizarre hate for Tim Legler.
The 2011 NHL Draft - June 24-25
Where dreams come true? Or where the Sabres draft guys that will never play for them named Marek Zagrapan or Phillip Gogulla
? I kid, I kid. We all know that drafting happens to be one of Darcy's strong suits, so make sure to tune into the entry draft on June 24th to see the magic happen. The Sabres pick 16th overall in the first round, but of course traded their second round pick to St. Louis for late season/playoff disappearing man Brad Boyes. Let us hope Darcy keeps his hot streak alive with prospects like Gerbe, Ennis, Myers, Adam, Enroth, and Butl....nope, not hyping that guy again.
Edmonton picks first overall and is expected to select 13 year old Canadian Center Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. Alright he isn't 13, but look at the picture below. Dear Jeebus that makes me feel insanely old. I thought Patty Kane & Ennis looked like a little kids, but Nuge-Hop (cool, nickname right? Oh shut up nobody asked you).
Other top prospects include Swede D-man Adam Larsson and on the rise Center Sean Couturier. Check out mynhldraft.com
for some great up to date mock drafts. They have Buffalo taking the top USA prospect Brandon Saad with their pick. He stands 6'2", 200 lbs, is a Pittsburgh kid, and doesn't look like he just graduated Junior High.
(Totally off-topic: SportCenter's Top 10 of the day is the greatest post-season comebacks of all time. The Buffalo Bills coming back from down 35-3 with Frank Reich to beat the Houston Oilers was #2, to Boston coming back from down three games to beat the Yankees in 2004. I haven't cursed on here in awhile, but Fuck. Fuck you Boston in your stupid A-holes.
NHL Free Agency - July 1st
I was going to put up a picture of Brad Richards to the right, but with all the talk of Pegula's deep pockets and the cash he is willing to spend to win a cup, I switched it up. There is a lot to talk about here, but I will do my best to keep it fairly limited, because as we all know, much more will be said as the big day approaches.
First, the Sabres have many RFA's
they need to deal with. Besides the obvious Drew Stafford, there are six other players they need to re-up with; Nathan Gerbe, Mike Weber, Reggie Sekera, Mark-Andy Gragnani, Chris Butl....still not saying his name, and the Demon Swede
himself all need new contracts. Most likely all of these guys will be in a Buffalo uniform next year, but you never know. Leopold and Morrisonn are still under contract and there are some solid UFA D-men available (more on that later).
With the RFA's handled accordingly, we can then look at our own UFA's. Most of which stand little to no chance of returning. As we all know, Timmy Connolly has most likely played his last game as a Buffalo Sabres. Early rumors have him heading to Atlanta or BAAAH-AHHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH the New York Rangers. Mike Grier, Steve Montador, and Mr. Playoff Rob Niedermayer are also all currently rumored to be on their way out. No surprises there. After that, you have Yachtsman favorite Cody McCormick, and AHLers Mark Mancari and Matt Ellis, all of which will most likely be resigned on the cheap. Oh yeah, and god-willing, Patrick Lalime won't be back (*shutters*).
Finally the fun stufff! New UFA's for the Sabres to compete for. Word has it that no player is untouchable for Darcy and Sabres' Management. Brad Richards is of course the big veteran leader that many teams are drooling over. Apparently the early frontrunners could again the Rangers, as well as the Sabres and Leafs. So weird to see the Sabres as a frontrunner for a major free agent. But if Bradley doesn't join the blue and gold, many other online sources (which of course are ALWAYS legit) have talked up the Sabres possibly bringing in (back) Chris Drury, as well as D-men James Wisniewski (Montreal) and Eric Brewer (St. Louis), Simon Gagne (Tampa Bay), and Alexei Ponikarovsky (Los Angeles). I also would not be the Scizz if I didn't bring up my former favorite Sabre, J.P. Dumont, who is owed 4 million by Nashville next year and barely played at the end of the season and playoffs. If Nashville buys him out and Buffalo can get him for next to nothing, tell me you wouldn't mind seeing J.P. back in a Sabres uniform running? Or is it just that I want my old, all red 3rd jersey to be legitimate again? Could be.
Buffalo Sabres Training Camp - September
No reason to go into this too much right now, but it will definitely be a fun time to watch this franchise. Besides any new UFA's that walk into the newly painted arena, Derek Roy and Jochen Hecht should be healthy, young guns like Myers, Ennis, and Gerbe will officially start a new season in their dominant roles, and of course a new crop of prospects will attempt to make the team. Will Enroth officially be the full-time backup goalie? Will AHL rookie of the year Luke Adam join the team permanently? And will other past call-ups like Paul Byron and Dennis Persson have a legit shot? It will also be interesting to see how close guys like T.J. Brennan and uber-filthy Zack Kassian make an impact. Can it get more exciting? I submit that it cannot.
Actual photo that came up when I google-imaged IIHF World Championships
IIHF World Championships - NOW
Yeah I almost totally forgot these were happening right now. Paul Gaustad is playing on Team USA (who is I was writing this was in battle with the Czechs) and DGWU fave Mark-Andy Gragnani is playing for Team Canada. Also some guys named Ovechkin, Gaborik, and Tavares decided to show up and play. And remember Phillip Gogulla from the beginning of this post? He is playing with another former Sabres Prospect, Felix Schutz
on Team Germany. Their Coach? Former Sabres defenseman Uwe Krupp. It's a small world after all.
Also for Buffalo Sabres News during this off-season, make sure to check out former Buffalo74 site-runner Scott Michalak's new site Buffalo Sabres Nation
. I spent over an hour after work reading everything on the site and it is phenomenal. Congrats goes out to one of my personal favorite blogger/tweeters in Buffalo sports. Here is hoping we can book him on the podcast sooner rather than later!
Stay tuned for Part 2 of this post on Saturday, which will feature the Buffalo Bills, FC Buffalo, NASCAR, Baseball, and some cool guys who run a podcast called the CrapTastiCast.....weird. You can also look forward to more basketball chat from the Apologist, an angry rant about the city of Buffalo's new slogan from the Yachtsman, solo NASCAR-related posts from yours truly and the Barrister, and Friday check out my account of forcing myself to watch a full baseball game (hint: the girlfriend worked late and booze and Matt Garza
were involved). Until next time, I leave you with future Sabres bad-ass Zack Kassian.