HEATHER B.: For today and today only, I love John Buccigross. He did a “If we blew up the league and drafted from scratch, how would the draft go?” column and Ovechkin was number 5 behind Crosby, Lecavalier, Thornton, and Heatly. Ha-HA! (I’m pointing in my best Nelson Muntz impression.) (I’m also ignoring that he has the Sabres drafting Iginla for Drury-like leadership.)
Forget it. I kept reading and now I hate Bucci again which is as it should be.
SCHNOOKIE: I see now why you dumped Bucci by the end of his column, Heather. He really is a dipshit. And seriously, just because Detroit is willing to pay Rafalski $6 million a year until he’s 57 doesn’t mean it’s a good deal. Yes, it sucks that the market overvalues name-recognizable defensemen, but a smart GM has to realize that there is a limit to how much production you’re going to get out of one defensively-liable blueliner, and there is a limit to how much you can intelligently pay for that. I mean, I liked Raffie’s 40 points from our back end last year, but the overall quality of his play wasn’t worth the percentage of the salary cap that his UFA contract was going to eat up. In a perfect world he would have stayed a Devil, but a perfect world doesn’t have salary caps and doesn’t have desperate GMs who are working with budgetary constructs that are really different than my own team’s. I hate, hate, hate, hate, hate when people talk about free agent movement as if it’s happening in a vacuum, and as if it’s entirely in the hands of one GM.
HEATHER B.: Yeah, that’s pretty much my beef with Brian Campbell (as if you didn’t know). He’s going to cost too much for what he’ll provide and it’ll mean shuttling off players who, IMO, bring something more valuable to the table. Campbell is good at what he does but all of our d-men can skate and most of them can get the puck through to the net which is how he picks up most of his points. He’s not irreplaceable.
Bucci totally has a bug up his ass about the Sabres management though. I get that they’re not perfect and I know they made some mistakes with Chris and Danny (although refusing to cripple the team with huge contracts was not one of them) but the Sabres don’t seem to be much worse off than the Rangers or the Flyers right now. The idea that they’re a failure if they can’t sign Campbell is fucking ridiculous. They’ve been talking to him all season. They couldn’t take care of him earlier because the CBA doesn’t allow teams and players to talk until the summer before the last year of the player’s contract. All they’ve really failed to do is give in to Campbell’s demands which I guess makes them idiots. Give me a friggin’ break.
SCHNOOKIE: Bucci’s single-minded disdain for Sabres management is wildly annoying, and I especially hate how he seems to think the entire franchise should be run out of business just because they didn’t publicly fellate Chris Drury enough for his liking. The player they miss a lot more than Drury is Briere, but again, $8 million a year for the next 7 years (or was it 8? What did Philly end up giving him?) is RETARDED, no matter how much you miss the guy this season, and the mythical 5-year/$25 million contract was one they couldn’t give out at the time because of how many other free agents they were dealing with and budgeting for. Yes, on paper, the Sabres should have re-signed at least one, if not both, of those guys. But these decisions don’t happen on paper, and it makes me so mad when someone who is as much of a simpleton as Bucci (but who has a wide audience) deliberately refuses to consider that the situation is more complex than just Sabres management fiddling while Rome burns. Meanwhile, franchises like LA, Edmonton, Tampa and Toronto are being far more ineptly run, but you never hear him piling on with them. (I am hugely sympathetic on your behalf because the decade leading up to the lockout was the “Let’s all trash on the Devils and how they’re run” decade. The party line in the MSM was how Lou was a stingy bastard, how his players chafed beneath his skinflint ways, how he maliciously lowballed all his guys, how hockey fans should rail against his cheapness, how [insert name of ANY Devils player here] should be freed from his hellish prison in Jersey for the GOOD OF THE GAME, and how, oh yeah, they were killing hockey. And in the end it turns out Lou was just looking at the landscape of his entire team’s budget, not just in the moment but two years, five years, ten years down the road, and considering those factors as well when he went into contract negotiations. For example, did someone like Bobby Holik think he was worth $9 million per? Yeah, he did. Did some other teams think he was worth that? Yeah, they did. Did that make him worth that to Lou? Hells no. Were the Devils ultimately healthier for not bowing to his outlandish-yet-still-supported-by-the-market contract demands? Yes. I don’t understand how the media, fans, and some GMs seem to think that the financial situation that dictates what you should be spending on a player in the first year of his contract will still be exactly the same in the last year of his contract.)
HEATHER B.: Despite some bumps – the Sabres clearly intended to keep Drury – it’s clear that they do have some kind of plan for the next few years. When the Vanek offer sheet came down Darcy said, “It’s more than we were planning on paying Thomas over that period of time but he’s important enough to our plans that we’re going to match it.” I’ve said this before somewhere but I’d much rather get burned by a GM who maybe overthinks things sometimes than get burned by a GM who doesn’t think at all. The overthinker might mess up things for now but they’re usually fixable. The guy who doesn’t think at all could ruin a franchise for years.
I know with Bucci it’s largely his hard-on for Drury but it still pisses me off. One, Drury isn’t near being worth what he’s making. Two, despite that he’s not worth what he’s making, the Sabres matched NY’s offer. HE chose to go to the Rangers. And I believe Danny’s deal is 8 years but I don’t remember the exact money amount. Somewhere around 7, I think.
It kills me that of all the dumbass GMs in the league, the smart guys are always the ones getting dumped on. What’s that about?
SCHNOOKIE: Exactly! And I don’t understand how Sabres management gets dumped on, but Bucci never says the Oilers should be getting out of the NHL business. And even with their Stanley Cup history, and Canadian fanbase, and blah blah blah, they were recently playing to half-empty houses, have needed vast amounts of financial assistance from the league, and have teetered on the brink of bankruptcy repeatedly. Where’s the hate for them?
I think part of the thing with Bucci’s Sabres hate, a thing that goes beyond his inexplicable adoration of Drury (and seriously, I get loving a guy who is about more than just stats, but you don’t hear me saying Pando’s worth $7 million a year, and he’s got twice as many Cups as Drury), is that a lot of people in the media held the Sabres up as the Great Hope Of The New NHL. Everyone wanted so badly for the run-and-gun, high-scoring, flashy team to be the model for everyone else. So when the moment of glory faded so quickly, and Ducks goonery and a return to “sound defensive play” took center stage in the league, I think a lot of the MSM guys took it really hard, and have been lashing out at the Sabres for ruining their dreams more than just bungling a few free-agency decisions. Basically, the collapse of the President Trophy Sabres is about more than just that one team as far as someone like Bucci is concerned, and he takes it really, really personally.
HEATHER B.: Bucci can kiss my ass.
SCHNOOKIE: Bucci doesn’t think you understand how much the Sabres losing hurt him. It was symbolic, you see, and also a Drury thing. You wouldn’t get it. You’re just an actual fan of the actual team. He was thinking bigger picture. You’re so feeble-minded, Heather. (And classless.)
I think the healthiest approach a fan can have to the league-wide media is the “you can kiss both sides of my ass” approach. It’s just a losing battle trying to get people who don’t pay day-to-day attention to your team to understand the nuances of it. Of course, it’s a losing battle in many markets (*cough*Bucky*cough*) to get the people in the media who do pay day-to-day attention to the team to understand the nuances of it…
HEATHER B: I am really just learning that this year. The recent ten game losing streak was bad but when they were losing so much earlier this season they really weren’t playing that bad. They were working hard. But someone who wasn’t actually watching them would only see the L’s piling up. It’d never really clicked before that I was seeing more than they were even though it seems pretty obvious. I think that’s part of the problem with Campbell too. I have the “luxury” of seeing him up close and personal every night.
SCHNOOKIE: Now that I think about it, the main reason I don’t have any patience for the media is that I think like a fan, and they don’t. I want to like my team. They don’t. Unless they’re slurping my team for winning the Cup, they’re not going to say what I want to hear.
HEATHER B.: You’re so right. We often joke that Bucky is pulling for the team to fail so he can crow about being right and I’m not entirely sure there isn’t some truth in that. Sucks.