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Play It Cool


Ed. note: BBG readers, please welcome Dan Sterlace to the team. Formerly of Sabre Noise, Dan will be a weekly columnist here with a bit of a Drew Magary-on-Kissing Suzy Kolber bent to his writing.

Hey Buffalo. You excited? You know you are.

Doesn't he look ecstatic? (Photo credit: Wikipedia Commons)

I’m excited. I’m kicking off my inaugural post at BBG after what I consider a fun run over at Sabre Noise, and the first thing I get to talk about is the post-analysis of the post-deadline analysis that’s got jumping beans in everybody’s pantaloons. Holy crap, #DarcyDidSomething is the Twitter search of the week, and we’ve got Puck Daddy rating the Sabres GM as a “winner” of the trade deadline. We’re hearing analysts on TSN talk about how our team got better. If you’ve looked around, you might even see some Vancouver Canucks fans who are irate about the big trade that stripped them of their Calder Trophy candidate of a center.

What’s important now is we play it cool…and contain ourselves.

Two things happen when we get over-stimulated. First, we start looking for things to be angry about. Second, we start to over-analyze everything until we’re at each other’s throats over what line the new guy is playing on.

The number of callers and tweets and comments that gripe about losing size and grit was somewhat expected. This Sabres squad is under-sized, and they’ve been bullied in the playoffs two years in a row. But if you look at it from an analytical point of view…losing Paul Gaustad and gaining a first round pick was an absolute no-brainer.

Guys. The best case scenario with Goose if he stayed was that he’d re-sign for less money. The worst case scenario would be that he’d walk out the door and the Sabres would get nothing in return. Now I’m not saying he will be back, and I’m not even taking this time to say he should (nor shouldn’t) be back. But it’s an option that comes with a first round pick. This is having your cake and eating it too.

That’s me talking about someone who’s been my favorite player since 2005. Take your heart out of the equation and use only your brain. The only way the Gaustad trade looks better is if Nashville tanks the rest of the season and that first round pick moves farther up the draft.

Instead we’ve got Bucky Gleason talking about the value of the fourth rounder that went to Nashville:

If you think the fourth-round pick Buffalo required to complete Paul Gaustad’s trade mattered little, here are eight notable players Buffalo selected after the third since 1997: Gaustad, Ryan Miller, Brian Campbell, Nathan Gerbe, Patrick Kaleta, Ales Kotalik, Dennis Wideman, Jan Hejda, Chris Butler.

That’s what we get, folks. Darcy Regier absolutely fleeces the Nashville Predators, and a day later we have Buffalo’s greatest wind-bag blowing about how a fourth round pick can make it in the NHL. Yes, Bucky, a 4th can end up doing well. Derek Dorsett was taken in Round Seven. Adam Burish went in Round Nine. Hell, Ville Leino wasn’t ever drafted, and he ended the Sabres playoff hopes last season.

"What do you mean 'last season'?" Photo credit: The House That Glanville Built

Holy crap, Bucky. It’s almost like the draft is a crap shoot. It’s like 3o teams do their best to guess the damn future or something, and they place their bets on a bunch of teenagers and hope that the kids pan out and don’t screw up.

Speaking of kids that screw up, the Sabres moved the delinquent and under-achieving Zack Kassian as part of a trade to try to address the much-coveted playmaking center. Surely the Buffalo sports media only had good things to say about that, right:

Darcy Regier pointed toward prospect Marcus Foligno as a player who played a similar style to Zack Kassian…So why wasn’t the left winger, terrific for the past month in Rochester, summoned to help the struggling Sabres for more than a game? Kassian failed to score in his final 21 games for Buffalo going back to Dec. 7. And if they were showcasing Kassian, why did the Sabres promote Corey Tropp for their four-game road trip over Foligno?

Jesus! It’s like playing Jenga. They move out a kid that they clearly had a problem with, upgraded the center position, and all it does it cause us to whine and cry some more. And yes, I’m saying “us” and not just Bucky. He is absolutely the pandering heart and soul of the masses, but he needs to have an audience to pander to. Even the most well-meaning and positive-minded of us have been caught in a wake of excitement and boundless energy because the Sabres won on deadline day.

How could I blame anyone for being so pumped up? Fans have been thirsting for an overhaul of the Sabres’ core players since Danny Briere and Chris Drury left. That fumble by management left such a bruise on our proverbial skin that we’re left with a sort of post-traumatic stress disorder where we have to search for the bad in every move they make. Whenever something looks good, we have to turn it upside down and inside out and Bucky has to point out the centers they’ve drafted in the first round that didn’t pan out:

Buffalo has chosen four centers in the first round since 1997 — Tyler Ennis, Marek Zagrapan, Jiri Novotny and Artem Kryukov. Zagrapan and Kryukov never played a shift in the NHL. Ennis is the only one of the four who spent a full season in Buffalo.

Wait. Hold it. Didn’t Bucky just say earlier in the same exact article that the Sabres have hit on players in the fourth round or later? Are you even allowed to do that? Are you allowed to kvetch and moan and complain about some first round misses mere carriage returns after warning fans of the very important value of that fourth round pick that we gave to those dirty Nashville Predators?

Come on, man. Chill the hell out.

Right about now (looking at the time, it’s 7:15pm), they are fielding their newest acquisition. Cody Hodgson is a center, he’s a playmaker, and he isn’t smaller than my eleven year old nephew. All three of those things are considered “steps up” for this Sabres team. But in the two days and four hours we’ve had him, I’ve seen or heard the following (none of these are exaggerations):

  • What’s his trade value?
  • Can we give him a contract extension?
  • Is he going to fight anyone like Kassian did?
  • Can he turn in to an 80 point center to replace Derek Roy?
  • What if we trade Hodgson and both first round picks for Malkin?

It’s to the point where we as a fanbase have trouble dealing with good news. Let the kid skate one full game – hell, let him skate a few – before we start dissecting every moment of his play and place a price tag on his head. Against Anaheim he’ll start skating center with Tyler Ennis and Drew Stafford. And you know what? Knowing Lindy Ruff, that will change before I finish writing this sentence. So just relax, chill out, and maybe try to enjoy what’s left of this season.

We’ve got our date to the prom. Turns out she’s kinda popular and the Vancouver fans are ticked off she’s going with us. Her dress is nice, her parents are cool, and she’s got all the things we think we want. Now is not the time to start acting like madmen and trying to trade her off for the really good looking English teacher with the short skirt, nor is it time to start talking to her about a house and babies.

We can start doing that next week.

6 Comments leave one →
  1. Ham permalink
    03/01/12 12:59 AM

    I like your writing style. Welcome to BBG.

    • Dan permalink*
      03/01/12 10:53 AM

      I appreciate it, thanks. I’ve thought for a while that this blog would be a fun one to write with.

  2. 03/01/12 10:24 AM

    Well said…sometimes the worst part about being a Sabres fan is having to deal with Sabres fans. I encourage my brethren to try to be hockey fans first, and Sabres fans second…and for god’s sake please chill on all the negativity so that the rest of us can enjoy some friggin hockey!

    • Dan permalink*
      03/01/12 10:54 AM

      You’re spot on, though it’s important to remember why exactly so many Sabres fans are high-strung. It seems whenever the guys at The Buffalo News or WGR start saying “calm down” they get pretty condescending, as though Buffalo fans don’t have a right to get excited. Of course we do! The city’s sports curse runs deep in our veins, so it’s important to remember that we’re a very easily riled bunch.

  3. 03/01/12 2:29 PM

    Sweet article man. I love the way you wrote this article and I couldn’t agree more with your opinion. Keep up the good work!

    • Dan permalink*
      03/02/12 11:36 AM

      Thanks! Hopefully you’ll still enjoy the way I write when my opinion takes a sharp left turn (it will).

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