For the Last Time

The summer of 2007 is pretty hard to forget for Sabres fans.

Actually, that’s a complete lie. Chris Drury and Daniel Briere’s departure from the roster is tough to forget. The when, why and how is consistently forgotten.

Let’s hop into the wayback machine and go through this one more time. Then never speak of it again. Deal?

The Facts:

1. Chris Drury and Daniel Briere became unrestricted free agents on July 1, 2007.
2. Chris Drury signed a seven-year, $51.5 million contract with the New York Rangers.
3. Daniel Briere signed an eight-year, $52 million contract with the Philadelphia Flyers.
4. The Buffalo Sabres, obviously, did not re-sign Chris Drury or Daniel Briere on July 1, 2007.

The facts are easy. After this, everyone seems to lose their goddamn minds.

I’ve seen plenty of people say that Briere is a jerk for going to the Flyers because he took more money. He shunned Buffalo. Wrong. That was Drury, who the Sabres actively courted to the bitter end. If you read this sentence and immediately close the tab, please take this fact to your grave and enjoy the rest of your life: The Sabres picked Chris Drury over Daniel Briere.

How do we know this? Let’s start with the fact that they lowballed Briere in the token contract negotiations that took place prior to July 1.

Briere broke off talks with the Sabres on Friday, disappointed that Buffalo offered him a five-year, $25 million contract. The offer averaged out to the one-year, $5 million contract Briere was awarded in arbitration last summer, leaving the player confident he could get more on the open market.

It was, and still is, a ridiculous offer for Briere, one that was made downright silly when he hit the open market on Canada Day. The move was a PR stunt if anything, something to convince fans full of shaky logic that the team actually tried to get him. ‘Hey man, he turned US down. TURNED THE CITY OF BUFFALO DOWN!!!’ It was smart. It’s still working to this day.

But hey, let’s talk like crazy people for a second and pretend that the Sabres made a real effort to keep Briere in blue and gold. After all, they wanted to keep both, right?

No. Wrong again.

“The plan yesterday was to bring Chris Drury back,” (Larry) Quinn said. “He’s a very hard player to replace. And you just don’t go up on the shelf and buy another one.”

Also in that article, which totally exists and is full of factual information, is the revelation that the Sabres were “prepared to match any contract (Drury) signed, including the one he got from New York.” There was no mention of a similar deal for Briere, mostly because his offer consisted entirely of Mighty Taco gift certificates.

Oh, and this.

Regier said re-signing Briere became secondary when it became apparent he would command a hefty contract in free agency. That’s why the team didn’t make him an offer until last week.

“If you had a crystal ball, yeah, sure you’d like to go back and do some things differently,” Regier said. “But we are where we are.”

I know what you may be thinking right now: “Yeah, well, this is still all Briere’s fault.” Well, I’m truly sorry to hear that. You are in an unreachable world where you’ve left rational thought behind. I hope you’re having fun there. Please send a postcard, scribbled in GoGurt on a slab of sandstone.

This is not perception. This is not contrived narrative. The Sabres screwed this one up, not Daniel Briere. They picked Drury, who then picked the Rangers. Regier, Quinn and Co. were wrong in the days leading up to July 1, 2007. Hindsight, which has given us Drury’s early retirement and Briere’s continued brilliance, has only made them even more wrong.

But forget about hindsight and stick to the facts. This is what happened. Now that we’re all caught up let’s have a nice, rational conversation about all this.

After all, we’ve got five years of catching up to do.