If the current Pegula Sabres were compared to 1990's alternative bands, then Matt Ellis might be considered Better Than Ezra or Candlebox. You might remember him/them for a few moments and even enjoy what he/they brought to the scene, but in the long run you forget they were ever there. This is why the Matt Ellis story is a tad different than what I wrote about Cody McCormick last week. He hasn't earned a long term contract, a full-time roster spot, or in some cases, the respect of the casual fan. I say eff that. Over the past three seasons, this kid has probably worked harder than any other player on the Buffalo roster (sweeping generalization). Yes, he may have incredibly miniscule talent when compared to your average NHL athlete, but when have you not seen Matty Ellis busting his ass 112% and making the most out of every moment he gets in a Sabres uniform.
This is why Matty just got his new deal. Although not long-term and only a two-way deal this upcoming season, it displays the organization's knowledge that he is a hardworking, solid fourth liner that when called upon will do his damndest to get the job done. I'm not sure exactly how the deal works, but my guess is that he will spend most of this season as the captain in Rochester and will be one of the top forward call-ups. As for next season when it is a one-way deal, maybe this is Darcy's way of putting Ellis to the test for one more season and possibly giving him the opportunity to prove he can be a full-time fourth liner. If not, he at least will earn a full year of an NHL salary in 2012-13, whether it is with the Sabres, Rochester, or possibly another NHL franchise (if he gets traded or claimed off of waivers).
This all makes me extremely happy. I LOVE Matt Ellis, and the rest of the DGWU crew often makes fun of me for it. I have a soft spot for hardworking athletes who may not have the skill of others, but have the heart to do whatever it takes. This is why I have always pulled for athletes like Grady Sizemore, Steve Wojciechowski, Dustin Brown, Tayshaun Prince, and Jim Leonhard. These guys push themselves nonstop. Granted, maybe a couple of them are skill players who don't get noticed so it is hard to compare them to Ellis (Dustin Brown), but I think you get my point. It might be because this was always the type of athlete I was. I was a pretty solid track and cross-country runner, but of course those athletes never get much love or the spotlight, so I also played basketball. By the time I was in eighth grade I had the realization that "oh, I'm not very good. I better work my ass off if I ever want to play Varsity". So that is what I did. I hustled for every rebound I could, I sprinted up and down the court, and dove for every loose-ball. Just don't ask me to hit a 10 foot jump shot or drive the lane. I guess I identify with Matt Ellis (although he was probably a stud in high school sports back in Welland, Ontario), and thus why I pull for the guy so much.
GP: 70 Goals: 3 Assists: 5 Points: 8 Average Time On Ice : 7:40 Plus/Minus: +2
Nothing to get excited about, but when news is slow, anything becomes interesting. However as he was given his new opportunity, Ellis scored seven goals and 12 points in 45 games with a +4 and earned a full-time position with the team in 2009-10. He even scored his first playoff goal, but will unfortunately will only be remembered in that series for a video I refuse to put up. You can read about it here as it was covered by the Yachtsman back in the olden days of this blog.
Following his full-time run, he only earned a two-way deal last season and spent most of the time in Portland. Much of this was due to the emergence of Cody McCormick in the 09-10 playoffs and the following camp. But last year was still enough to get a deal done again for the upcoming season. In fact, I recently learned from Phil of BBG that the Sabres actually do quite well when he is in the lineup. Therefore I believe that Darcy found another unwanted talent that has proven his worth. Matty Ellis is back!
I wonder how much a half Amerks, half Sabres Ellis Jersey would cost?
In honor of the aforementioned Candlebox, I had to drop this youtube gem. Still one of my favorite songs, which is why the Matt Ellis comparison works so well for me.