You know it’s going to be a fun vacation when you are literally terrified of your cell phone the entire time.
Yes, while I traveled down to Boston to visit baseball Mecca, news of the Sabres offseason slowly trickled in through my phone. And as blown away as I was by Fenway Park, (a full post will follow shortly) I simply could not escape the sad reality of this past week.
Coming with me on the trip was the Tuesday morning edition of the Buffalo News. That awful front page, I simply couldn’t get away from it. Who would have thought Chris Drury would be a Ranger a week ago? I can’t even imagine him in red, white, and blue. The thought itself is enough to make my stomach turn.
The final straw for me was yesterday morning when I learned the Oilers tried to sign Vanek, forcing us to match that ridiculous contract to save face. Blame who you want, but Thomas Vanek is now over payed, plain and simple.
Here’s the deal: everyone is wrong. Any Sabres fan who thinks this team is through is absolutely out of their minds. As I’ve said before, losing Briere and Drury is not losing your team, but losing the face of your team. It’s an emotional connection, yes, but in no way are we not a playoff team. Anyone who is ready to write this team off here and now, well, I’m glad to see you go. Take the next couple plays off, and get ready to bail on the Bills in Week 2. So glad you could make it.
Looking at what the Buffalo News has been writing while I’ve been away, I have to completely agree with the notion that they are going way, way overboard. My red flag went up when Bucky Gleason insinuated that he knew more than Darcy Regier on Monday, and it only got worse while in Beantown. Alan Pergament’s article accusing TV broadcasters being too soft is the perfect example of making something out of nothing. I’m not sure if the sports department got together and someone made the “Let’s go out there and run ’em” speech, but it sure seems like a team effort over there.
However, the Sabres brass is not off the hook in my book. In my opinion, the entire off season game plan has been utter garbage. Throwing Danny Briere under the bus while not knowing for sure Drury wanted to come back was just plain stupid. Not having another big name free agent on the sign able list was also a big mistake, one that still has no explanation. So to alleviate the pressure of that failure, management promised to bring back Thomas Vanek.
Enter the Edmonton Oilers.
The contract itself is simply disgusting. Not once did I ever hear mention of a signing bonus to lure anybody to Buffalo. How many times did you hear someone call Danny Briere “The Five Million Dollar Man” when things went awry? Thomas Vanek just made that for waking up on Friday morning.
It didn’t have to be this way, though. Larry and Darcy will have you believe there was no way to know how the market was going to work. Well why do they seem to be the only ones that have no sense of foresight in these matters? If Chris Drury is your “guy”, wouldn’t you do everything you possibly could to keep him in Buffalo? Including front loading a contract, or taking a hit with a signing bonus?
You can’t take the effect and make it the cause, either. It’s simply wrong to say that letting Danny and Dru walk with money to give on the table was necessary because signing Vanek would be so imperative. In fact, the opposite is the real truth. I know I wasn’t the only one that was more than okay with losing Vanek to a big contract if I had a captain on the roster. Take a look at the Group Two comp sheet and tell me you wouldn’t feel better about losing Vanek to that contract in exchange for Chris Drury signed at $7 million and four first round draft picks.
To sum it up, I’m not happy. No one is.
It’s good to be home.