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.
Still 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.
The 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.