No Slope

by Ryan

I haven’t said a word about free agency since June. Somehow that seems pretty unlikely, but that’s what happens when a holiday and two jobs get in they way of sleep.

Over the past seven days it would be hard to tell you I was surprised by anything that has happened. Vancouver got their cyborg twins back, Montreal got a brand new hockey team, and the Sabres made one signing. That’s about as “by the book” as we can get.

gorillawarStill no matter how predictable the Sabres have been, it’s still extremely frustrating to watch free agency progress with no signs of life from GMDR and company. Signing Montador was a good move and one most Sabres fans will applaud, but since then it’s been all quiet on the Western New York front.

Again, just because it’s expected doesn’t mean it’s not extremely frustrating. Coming from a guy who wishes a different coaching staff would be operating Rookie Camp this week, the inaction shown by the organization is enough to make me want to punch a dolphin in the face.

I mean at this point Bucky Gleason haters are finding very little to complain about in his columns. Let’s blockquote the last two columns he’s written since July 1 and see what we have to work with. Here’s his July 1:

Buffalo’s dalliance with free agency was a baby step in the right direction, but proceed with caution. Long ago, the organization lost the benefit of the doubt. What remains is a layer of distrust between the Sabres and their fans. The Montador signing, while interesting, was uninspiring. It was the Sabres once again doing things half-baked.

Not much to disagree with there. Montador was another small step towards the re-branding of Darcy Regier and this organization, but it clearly wasn’t enough last Thursday and it isn’t enough today. Which brings us to today’s column:

The Sabres, meanwhile, are selling … well … what, exactly? They finished 10th in the conference last season. They haven’t signed Drew Stafford or any other restricted free agents. They haven’t made any trades, which is supposedly the plan. To improve they’ll need much more than the Craig Rivet-type moves they made last year.

Bet the house on some flunky in the organization explaining away another listless summer by saying how they tried signing players but couldn’t convince them to come here, the old blame-Buffalo excuse, without understanding the reason why.

The problem isn’t Buffalo the town, fellas, it’s Buffalo the team.

Sabres fans don’t want to hear this, but Bucky is right. This stagnation is completely unacceptable, and the longer it goes on the more likely it slips away into the great beyond. For all the promises of change and forward thinking, all we have to show for it is a big, tough draft class of North Americans ready to play in three years and a sixth defenseman.

anglesThe most frustrating thing about all is that the longer this nothingness lasts the more likely it becomes “okay.” The anger fans had towards this organization has crested long ago, and the “layer of distrust” isn’t thick enough to last the summer. Soon Sabres fans will look at Spacek’s numbers and the current roster and say, “Well if Butler gets 20 points and Myers gets 15 then…”

And on and on. Before you know it it’s okay that we have a team with two 1-A centers, zero leadership, and a head coach who has his job because his GM refuses to fire him. If I’m looking at that team on paper in August and on the practice ice in September, I’m looking at another 10th place finish in April.

It’s a slippery slope, and in this case it’s a slope that equals zero.

6 Comments

  1. I can understand the frustration with fans and the fact that the Sabres aren’t signing anyone but my question is what exactly do you want this team to do.

    Here is the current situation:

    The current cap space is at $47.2 million dollars tied into 15 players. They still have to work out an agreement with both Drew Stafford and Clarke MacArthur if they want to keep them. MacArthur should come in at around $1 million/year while Stafford could fetch as much as $2.5 million/year. That brings the cap hit now up to $50.7 million.

    The current team would then have 10 forwards, 5 defensemen, and 2 goalies, with at least 2 forwards and 1 defensemen to plug into the lineup. They would be left with $6.1 million left in the cap, but knowing the Sabres they won’t have a budget anywhere near that cap. In fact, according to last year’s budget of $50.8 million, they would be near their target number with the signings of Stafford and MacArthur.

    That pretty much means that the free agency market is off limits for the Sabres. Which was something that we already figured with the comments that Darcy made before the start of Free Agent Frenzy. Now the Sabres either have to plug in those spots with young players from Portland and we as Sabres fans watch this team in another rebuilding year or Darcy makes some moves through trades.

    While it may be very frustrating for Sabres fans to sit and watch while other teams just grab anyone and everyone they can, in my mind it makes sense on why they haven’t made any moves yet. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Darcy try and unload some overpriced contracts sometime within the next month.

  2. ITS ONE WEEK IN!

    Jesus Christ calm down. Theres 2 months left before camp 2 MONTHS!

    Plenty time to trade, plenty of time to sign guys. Whats the rush.

    Wait till teams are spent, then you can sign quality free agents at a discount.

  3. Mike

    I think Darcy will make a move. I think he wants to see what he’s got at prospect camp to evaluate which direction to go. Hopefully he can pull off a winner and not repeat last summer, where there were no trades to be had and we were stuck with Max for another year.
    I hear Al Kotalik is still available.

  4. I hear that Andrew Peters is still available as well. Just saying.

  5. Ryan,

    You’re getting sucked in and taking the easy way out.

    I do agree on one point, however, and that is the emotions of the typical Sabres fan right now. Two years ago the News’ writers tried to drum up fan unrest when it simply was not there. Today, it really is there. The fanbase has lost faith in management and inaction makes them even more frustrated. That leads to fans staying home, and it takes an incredible amount of self-confidence on the part of management not to cave and do a Montreal Canadiens-style swap of one group of players for another without necessarily improving.

    Zach is right about what they can do right now, always bearing in mind that the reason they are in this position is the doing of the same people.

  6. PKB

    I happen to agree with a lot of things Bucky says about the Sabres. He seems to have a good understanding with where the Sabres stand and what they need to do to improve. But he antagonizes Buffalo sports fans and that makes me think he doesn’t know what fans are really thinking. Like many others, I feel Bucky spends too much time rehashing the past and I hate that he uses past mistakes to tirelessly to bash the front office. That story has grown old on readers. Honestly, it’s unfortunate because he has a good hockey mind. When he’s objective, he’s usually dead on.