It may not be the general consensus here in the blog, but it’s a fear that certainly hits home.
Let’s face it people, last year freaking sucked. It was soul crushing, mind numbing, disgusting, and just plain filthy. Every bad thing that will ever happen to you on Canada Day will be measured by last July 1st. In fact, for a little while we called it the “Canada Day Massacre” around these parts.
But that was in the moment, back when we forgot the world wasn’t ending. In the early stages of July it is easy to get caught up in the moment, trapped inside a “hockey event” so rare this time of year. Here is what I had to say about it that night, sifting through what had been:
We all deserve the burden of guilt for thinking it could be any different. To live that terrible sham, thinking this “New NHL” will help keep us in the game. How many people championed the lockout as necessary to help smaller franchises stay competitive with rising player salaries?
And yet, here we sit, captainless once again.
Just so you know, I wasn’t listening to The Cure or anything, so my wrists were safe. It was probably Ryan Adams’ “Love is Hell” or something. Moving on…
I think it is time we as Sabres fans face the reality of the situation: we may never compete on July 1st with anyone. The system just isn’t put in place to work for us, no matter what the intention is.
As depressed as I was at that point, I still believe what I wrote a year ago: the system isn’t designed to work for us. The market isn’t controllable, it keeps getting more expensive while talent is getting weaker and less numerous, and teams are forced to pay regardless. Small market teams that must aim for the cap median aren’t designed to be big players in the UFA market. That’s just how it goes, and I’ve resigned myself to that fact.
However, July 1st won’t always be the s#%tshow it was last year. Today marks an interesting turning point in the franchise: for the first time since the lockout, the Sabres have to do something in free agency.
Now, it may not be an epic move with a max contract involved, but we do need a defenseman and a goaltender. Something has to give, and quite frankly it will. It may not be right at 1pm, it may not even be today; but someone new will be in a Sabres uniform, and that’s pretty darn exciting.
New things are fun. They are shiny, say nice things, and give you a sense of hope to carry you through August, which is an evil, evil month in the hockey world.
Look at the reception Bernier got when he first showed up around these parts. He did what every new player does at the trade deadline: play one good game and tail off. People still love him. He may be the next Steve Heinze and half the fan base still won’t give a crap.
The point (yes, I have one) is this: today will be a distinctly different July 1st than last year’s model. Today will be fun, and even if it is a little frustrating it won’t be soul suckingly terrible. So we have that going for us.
Just look around the blogosphere at the news that Paul Gaustad re-signed. We as fans are just so happy that something finally happened, no one seems to care the terms of the deal. However, you can consider me satisfied with the contract our third line center has. Every good team needs a Bob Gainey, and Goose just may be the kind of guy to take that role.
Who knows right now? Right now is the time for speculation, wild or otherwise. Now is the time to dream of that missing piece, that “one player away” that takes a good team and makes them something special. Today is the day for an upgrade, the day for a “better than Thibault”, and maybe, just maybe; today is the day for Free Candy.
The Sabres will do something in Free Agency today. At this point, we’re already better off.