When this report came out today, I’m pretty sure every rational person who watches the Buffalo Sabres had the same reaction: “What?”
Tim Kennedy is going through waivers and, if he clears, then the Sabres will likely buy out his contract.
Now we’re still waiting to hear from General Manager Darcy Regier. What he has to say in this ordeal is going to matter the most — especially since the Kennedy camp seems as confused as everyone else on the outside.
Kennedy’s agent Allain Roy, spoke to Bucky Gleason of the Buffalo News today:
“It makes no sense to me,” said Allain Roy, Kennedy’s agent. “You’ll have to talk to Darcy on that one. It’s an enigma to everybody in hockey.”
“Enigma” may be a strong word, but until we hear from the Sabres, that’s exactly what this situation is. We can speculate all we want about arrogance on the side of the team. We know minority owner Larry Quinn would do away with the entire arbitration process if he could. We may, in fact, never know for sure what has really transpired over the last few days, but we do know that it will be until at least tomorrow that Regier will speak. Teams have until noon to claim Kennedy.
So let’s go back for a minute at what’s happened over the last few weeks. First, Tim Kennedy filed for player-elected arbitration, which is well within his rights. He and the team couldn’t work out a deal so they went to arbitration on July 27. The arbiter ruled that Kennedy should make $1 million next season.
According to Mike Harrington of the Buffalo News, the Sabres were looking to pay him about $800,000. Kennedy was shooting a lot higher (as he should in these types of proceedings) and was looking for a salary worth at least $1.2 million. So between the Sabres’ “high” and Kennedy’s “low,” the ruling fell pretty much down the middle.
Regier obviously wasn’t a fan of the ruling and he probably really didn’t like the fact that Kennedy and the team went to arbitration over what amounted to $200,000 dollars. Because the ruling was less that $1.6 million as per the Collective Bargaining Agreement, the club had to accept that salary.
Here are reactions from both sides on July 29:
“For us, [the award] was a little higher than we expected certainly but we’ll work with it,” Regier said. “Tim is a player we think can improve. We expect him to improve and we’ll work with him in that regard. We worked off what we thought he would get in arbitration as did they and that really is the process.”
“It’s never a fun process for either side but everybody was real professional throughout the whole thing,” Kennedy’s agent, Allain Roy, said by phone from St. Louis. “We feel it was a fair award. … Timmy wants to stay in Buffalo. He’s a born-and-bred guy and he loves the Sabres.”
Now it doesn’t become exactly clear what Regier meant by “we’ll work with it.”
I’m not sure many fans would have had a problem with Kennedy making a million dollars. His numbers were low last year because he was relegated to a two-way role and got few opportunities to really cut loose on offense. He has the potential to score a bunch of goals as we’ve seen in his career. And, as Nick Mendola likes to point out, Kennedy’s second season with a team is exponentially better than his first.
Tim Kennedy is going to be a very good player and it’s very strange that the Sabres would choose to buy him out as opposed to someone like a Tim Connolly who it appears has worn out his welcome in Buffalo.
I’m not going to pretend what the ramifications of this might be since there quite a few ways this could still end. I don’t know what Tyler Myers might be thinking or how this might impact free agent signings down the road. It does look bad for the organization to go through this type of process with a popular player — and a local boy to boot.
How Darcy tells his side of the story tomorrow will be critical. If he doesn’t seem honest then he’ll look like a puppet whose strings are being pulled by Quinn and that absentee owner in Florida. Regier has always been careful about choosing his words, but has a reputation, especially lately of being a pretty straight-shooter.
We’ll know more tomorrow but I certainly hope it’s more than the Sabres being thick-headed about the arbitration process. I would hope that they’re smarter than that and that they see the big picture clearly.
Hopefully the Sabres really are smarter than all of us.