And Dubs steals the show with the addition of his newly popular #BecauseItsBuffalo hashtag.
You can find more of @TheyCallMeDubs over at the insanely/awesomely NSFW Sabres/Bills blog, “Dear God Why Us Sports.” Check it out – it’s worth your time, every day. (If you haven’t, shame on you – THEY’VE BEEN ON OUR SIDEBAR FOR MONTHS/YEARS!!)
How about that Ehrhoff guy? He’s getting paid his hockey money this year, but he still took off for Krefeld in Germany to play, which means some unlucky guy loses his job over there. How about that for solidarity?
The hashtag “#ThePlayers” was created to call fans’ attention to that supposed solidarity, and how these guys should just really be able to play hockey. Except that guy Ehrhoff relegated. The good NHL players will get to play and get paid this season. The rest, well, they get to shinny at the local rink together.
I’ve always wanted Doan on the Sabres. He and Jarome Iginla have always represented the epitome of what we want in a Blue and Gold character – hard working, talented, gritty, and with elephant-sized hearts.
But to this point, the Sabres haven’t made a move. Aside from parting ways with Brad Boyes, who signed an actually reasonable contract with the Islanders – 1 year for 1 mil – there hasn’t been a reason to shuffle the locker room stables just yet.
And I couldn’t be happier.
Sure, many Sabres fans wanted to be this guy today:
And I can’t say I blame them. Landing a Parise would bring a heckuva lot of excitement to our #UFADay, but as I mentioned in my last post, can we really afford another “Vanekontract?”
Knowing full well that we were losing Boyes today, I still was secretly holding out hope that the Sabres would somehow sign him for 1 mil for 1 year, while simultaneously packing Leino off somewhere – anywhere, really. Didn’t happen, and there’s no surprise about that.
With the run on grit in the UFA market today (including the aforementioned Konopka), you gotta wonder what the Sabres’ plans are to get bigger. Perhaps now is Corey Tropp’s time to shine.
After losing so many Amerks to Europe and the KHL, I was surprised to not see Regier make some moves to bring in some solid AHL talent. It’s still early.
I can’t say how relaxing it was to have a “day off” from the UFA frenzy for once. After making the big splashes last season (Regehr, Ehrhoff, and Leino) there wasn’t a pressing need to show how seriously intent Pegula is on turning this team into a championship team. The “we’ll award you handsomely” point was made last year, so kudos for being more money-wise this time around.
#5 gets it’s own private space on this commentary. Feeling bored with all the non-happenin’s from the FNC? Count your hockey gods blessings.
For once, we’re not the mickey mouse organization of the NHL (thank you Devils for possibly taking that crown of thorns from us, as Parise and Brodeur are looking for greener pastures – we’ll see how that works out. My thoughts and prayers are with you, Devils fans). We’re not mourning the loss of Brad Boyes here.
Remember, on July 1st, 2001, Sabres fans woke up to the news that we had indeed dealt Dominik Hasek to the Wings for Slava freakin’ Kozlov (not sure who was more unhappy, the Sabres or Kozlov) a first round pick (Paille), and “future considerations” (which yielded us nothing).
This isn’t 2007, when we lost Briere and Drury (mine as well count Grier, Campbell, McKee, Dumont et al as a part of the overall losses from that Sabres generation, too).
And it’s not 2011, the year of the big money bang.
It’s 2012. We’ve got a glut of defensemen, and suddenly a glut of centers. As I said in my UFA preview post, our best value return for investment is in the trade market. After all, why pay Zach Parise a signing bonus of $12 million dollars this season and the next, when you can use the assets you’ve patiently collected over the last few years in a cap-friendlier and rink-deadlier trade? Bobby Ryan, I hope you get a call from your agent soon, and I hope he has something to say to you about how lovely the architecture is in the Queen City.
I’d love a “wacky inflatable tube man” celebration today as much as the next fan, but that’s not for this year. Instead, we need to be patient, and keep building for the future, you know, for a Stanley Cup celebration.
I’m talkin’ Tom Cruise crazy. Much money WILL be shown.
I know a lot of Sabres fans out there are clamoring for a big time signing on a Parise or a Doan, but perhaps the best outcome for the Sabres is if they sign no one.*
“No one?!?” you ask.
Yup – and here’s why:
We’ve overspent enough already on free agents.
Buffalo needs to vastly overpay/woo Big Names in order for them to come here.
The Sabres’ best return for investment right now is in the trade market.
Heck, I’d love Parise on this team as much as the next guy. I don’t care if he doesn’t play center – he scores goals. Lots of ’em. And the Sabres need goals. But hold fast, fans. Don’t we already have an overpaid player who has scored 25+ goals for 7 straight seasons? Don’t we absolutely loathe the “Vanekontract?”
Both Vanek and Parise started out in the NHL in 2005. Vanek has netted 230 goals in 547 games. Parise – 194 in 502. Their shooting percentages: TV, .152; ZP, .114. Despite the goal scoring prowess of Parise, we just can’t afford another “Vanekontract” on this team. And trust me, Parise is gonna’ get paaaaaid.
Simply put, the Sabres cannot throw whatever remaining monies they have at The Big Signing. Rather, they should unload some contracts or bodies in return for a good return that fills a need – or strengthens a need – we’ve got the pieces to do that.
The Sabres would find better soldiers of fortune in the trade market. The draft and the trade market are the Sabres’ best bets for landing credibly good hockey players to fill needs. With the draft wrapped up, it’s time to swing a deal or three (assuming they can get a star to waive a NMC to come to Buffalo).
Go ahead, Regier, and get to shanghai us some awesome players – we won’t judge you here.
Remember, the Sabres have a glut of prospects coming up the pipeline, most notably on defense, and now suddenly down the middle. They also have that “Old Core” which has proven to be fantastically talented at not winning Cups, (or enough regular season games to even have a shot at the Cup).
BEWARE: fake Twitter accounts are rampant on UFA day. Check the account before you RT it. Please.
Big signings are announced long after Day One expires. Don’t fill my Sabres Twitter feed with all caps cussin’ if they haven’t done what you want by Sunday afternoon. Be patient.
And most importantly:
Have fun. This is not the year we lose “Briere and Drury.” Kudos to New Jersey for possibly taking that crown of thorns from us this year, as Parise and now even Martin Brodeur could both bolt for greener pastures.
Go ahead and call me Buzzkill McBuzzkillington, but I just want the best for this team.
*Whatever will be shall be, but if it were up to me, my “big” target would be Zenon Konopka. He’s a big, mean body, and great on the faceoff dot. At 31, he’d be a very cheap replacement for Gaustad.
UPDATE: Gaustad was just handed $13 mil over four years. There goes another bank: broken. Meanwhile, Konopka is likely frantically practicing how to replicate Gaustad “switch-handed” faceoffs before the frenzy kicks in at noon tomorrow. Konopka is coming off of a one year deal, where he made just $700k in Ottawa.
Posted by Scott Michalak on April 2, 2012 at 8:44 am
The season seems to be cruelly winding down for the Sabres.
Unless by act of miracle by our hockey gods, Sabres fans are looking at three more games with the Blue and Gold this season. It’s been a heroic run at the playoffs, and that’s been fun, but now the playoffs are a longshot at best.
But the anxiety and hope over this team isn’t disappearing for me. Instead, it’s switching over from the ice to the broadcast booth – to Rick Jeanneret, and the hope that he signs on for another season.
RJ has been calling Sabres games in his unique and thrilling way since the 1971-72 season.
Before I go on, I should add that this post is not to alarm anyone. Rather, I’m putting these thoughts to print so that we savor every call in these last three games. Don’t take these three games for granted, not with RJ in the booth. (I’m assuming that he’ll be calling the away games in Philly and Boston that wrap up the season.)
I don’t need to tell any Sabres fan about how much it means to have his talent and personality with us along the way. If you do need a refresher, watch his Sabres Hall of Fame induction from earlier this season. It points out a lot of fond memories.
One other thing was pointed out to me when I first saw that clip – that little shake in his left hand. I can’t and will not speculate on what that might possibly mean, but I’ve noticed it throughout the season, and it’s been a subtle reminder to me that RJ is simply no spring chicken. Of course, that’s no secret.
Jeanneret has been shortening his play-calling schedule since the 2006-07 season. Between then and the 2010-11 season, he elected to take vacation time when the Sabres went on those long, arduous west coast roadies. Before then, he had notably only ever missed two games due to illness.
Before this season started, he sat down with Terry Pegula and Ted Black and worked out a part time schedule. As RJ himself put it, the idea is to lengthen his career by giving himself the rest he needs every now and then. We all would like for him to lengthen it for one more year – heck, we’d like another 40+ years.
This season, we’ve gotten a taste of what life will be when RJ inevitably hangs up his mike. Kevin Sylvester has been calling the play on those nights when RJ takes a break. There’s been a mixed reaction to his performance throughout the fan base, but that’s to be expected. Slyvester recently spoke to the WNY Hockey Report about it:
“I feel a greater responsibility to the fans, there is pressure here, you’re filling in for Rick Jeanneret.”
“I think I went through that in the previous seasons when I filled in,” said Sylvester. “I realize that not everybody is going to like my call, particularly when compared to Rick. But I think most people are respectful of it.”
“I don’t pay attention to it because I’m a positive person and I like to stick with the positive things in life. If someone doesn’t like the way I call a game, I can’t change that for that person. That’s their choice.”
“There are probably people who don’t like how I host a show, I’m OK with that, I get that. It’s like going to a movie. Not everybody is going to like the movie they went to see, that is what it is.”
“I think the greater challenge for me is to be accurate, be entertaining and continue to build and improve in my call. That’s what my goal has been.”
Many fans watching and listening have a strong connection to the work and the sound of Rick Jeanneret; but for Sylvester, it remains about doing the best job that he can.
“I’m here to call the Buffalo Sabres game,” said Sylvester. “I’m here to announce the hockey game the best way I know how. I inject some of my personality into it. I’m doing that more now than perhaps at the beginning of the season.”
“I’ve looked to establish a base and then build from there. If I look at it as I’m filling in for Rick, I would feel like I had to be like him. I don’t look at it that way nor should I try to be like him.”
Like many people in Buffalo, Sylvester is a fan of Rick Jeanneret.
“Everybody likes Rick including me,” confirmed Sylvester. “He’s one of a kind, he’s a gem and we’re lucky to have him and I hope he continues on for as long as he wants to and is able to.”
Some wonder why Sylvester would put himself in the position of substituting for Jeanneret, but clearly he enjoys calling a National Hockey League Game.
“There are plenty of people who have asked ‘Why would you want to do that’? The comment is always, you never want to be the guy who replaces a legend.”
“My response is, A: I’m not replacing him, no one can replace him. B: someone has to do it, and C: who knows I might just be good. I look at a guy like John Murphy and what he’s been able to do on Buffalo Bills radio stepping in for Van (Miller) when he retired and Murph does a great job. There are plenty of people, who certainly can’t do it, but Rick is one of a kind and most people recognize that, understand and appreciate that.”
I’ve been lucky to have been raised on Rick Jeanneret hockey, but just how good he is never really hit me until I was living out of town, and catching Sabres games through other teams’ broadcasts. I lived long enough south of the Mason Dixon line to know all too well the frustration of missing out on his play by play. I was part of a rowdy bunch of displaced Sabres fans down there, a hearty group that was never shy to shout at the big screens at the local BW3’s, and always prouder than ever over our goal celebrations when the Trivia Night announcer sighed into his microphone and said “Looks like the Sabres scored again.”
Then, there were those rare nights at that sports bar when we actually got to listen to the Sabres feed – usually about three times a year – those nights were completely different. The conversation was kept low and brief, until the commercial breaks when all the jokes and conversational bits my buddies and I had been trying to say would all spill out at once. Then, as soon as the game came back on, hands would raise up, and the attention would shift back to RJ. And of course, there was always that sudden rush of self-control when the Sabres scored a goal – despite how much we wanted to yell and whoop, we had to hold it all in, hold our breath really, until RJ’s goal call was complete.
After his call, we let all those whoops out in gushing streams. Anyone who talked over the call was in trouble, and had to pony up for the next round of drinks and wings.
This season, all Sabres fans have been given a healthy dose of life without RJ. He’s taken more nights off than ever before, and listening to Sylvester has been quite an adjustment for many – and one that none of us are ready for. Just like the boys and I held our breath at that BW3’s down South, we’ve all now learned what it feels to be waiting on RJ’s call.
Again, none of this is to alarm you – heck, not one bit of this notion should carry the slightest surprise to any Sabres fan. Still, at least for now, what we are looking at is just three more games with Jeanneret in the booth. That’s it, until he announces his intentions for next season.
We all know he’d like nothing else to be there with us in 2012-13, and the feeling is mutual.
Still, when the final whistle blows on the 2011-12 campaign, resigning Jeanneret will quickly become one of the biggest offseason questions.