Being disappointed in Darcy in July has become kind of a time-honored summer tradition, just like hot weather, food festivals, and fireworks that seem to let down. For the last five years or so, it has been pretty safe to say that I'm at my apex when it comes to hating Darcy and the Sabres at the end of the season. You don't have to take a review of the Bovada sportsbook to know that we all are at that point. For the next few months after that, I just sit and bash my head against the wall, wondering how someone like him can keep his job.
Bitch all you want about the annual "Darcy should be fired" narrative by talking heads or the Sabres Facebook page, but the proof is in the pudding. Nothing has changed about the results, so, why should the firing message change?
Up until July 1st or the start of free agency, I pretty much sport a scowl at the very sound of Darcy's voice and just hope change happens in spite of his methods of dosing our dreams with his words.
I make a mental deadline by which Darcy has to make some moves. I don't want to be one of those fans who yells because he doesn't make a trade on draft night or doesn't sign a hot free agent on the first day of free agency. I want to give him the benefit of the doubt, give him a little time. I mean, Rome wasn't built in a day, and we know the Darcy couldn't build Rome if he was spotted the pillars, lions, and all the stone masons in the world.
Because of this, I always wait a bit before I give my review of the offseason and what Darcy has done to try and unsink the Titanic. I normally pick July 12th. No real rhyme or reason to that date, I just feels like I'm giving Darcy a fair amount of time to fix things or at least get us on the right path. But then usually nothing happens.
So, instead of getting on my soapbox, I meditate and drink green tea to help me find serenity and give him until the 18th....18th comes and no one goes.
Alright, Darcy. I'll give you until the 23rd...and...NOTHING?!
This seems to happen all the time with Darcy. Just #dosomethingDarcy. Entertain me. It is the same repetitive, broken narrative since the dawn of time with this guy.
However, this is the life I've chosen when it comes to being a fan and blogger.
One of the biggest things I've taken away from being a blogger for the last three years is that I don't want to pass judgment on those who choose to be either optimistic or pessimistic. It is your life and no one should tell you how to cheer or not to cheer. I used to pass judgment and used the word apologist a lot as an insult. I think I was wrong in that regard. It is your right to cheer any way you like. I just ask you not to be a preacher, trying to change my mind. Now can I agree or disagree with your takes? Of course. Just don't try and recruit me to your cult and I won't do the same to you.
That said, I don't exactly want to be miserable 24/7 when it comes to the Sabres. I don't want to suffer every day, Darcy. I'm too old to wake up pissed off about our guys in blue and gold. So as much as I hate you and want you, along wth Andrew Peters, fired and jettisoned to Russia on a canoe, I have to find some sort of hope.
Ah, hope. That fucken word that keeps us coming back for more. I'm pretty sure when Bane gave Bruce Wayne a history lesson at the bottom of Bane's prison about how true despair can't be achieved until hope is taken away, he may have been talking about being a fan of the Buffalo teams.
At times like these, some fans will bury their heads in the sand and will only peek their head to see the sun when the sun is shining on their team. Others will find optimism and just go with it. Others will just be miserable fucks and let everyone know about their disapproval.
I'm trying to invoke all three faces of that narrative here. Do I have confidence in Darcy? Hell no. However, I actually do see a plan forming with this crew that I can kind of get behind.
Sorry, but trading for Hank shouldn't be meet with "They are going for a heroic run for 8th! They aren't serious about rebuilding!" It's Hank. Nice player if healthy and who would be on a last or first place team.
The Sabres are rebuilding, hence the reason they didn't sign high-priced FAs. They are going all in on rebuilding by having a draft in which they selected like 5 players within the first two rounds while not trading any of those picks for established players.
Is it boring as shit? Absolutely. It's suffering, right?
However, if Darcy's as much of a draft guru as some want to believe (I don't), then it is the right plan. Of the 3 parts of Darcy's GMing skills - trades, FA signings and drafting - I think it is safe to say his drafting skills are his strongest albeit not exactly amazing part of his repertoire. They are going to build through the draft and here's where the caveat may be at...
I'd be the first to say I don't follow the NHL as well as I should, but of the top 12 or so names on that list, I'd take all of them. Marleau, the Sedins, Kessel, Phaneuf, Statsny, and Cammalleri to name a few. So what if some of these prospects or younger guys like Ennis, Foligno, or Weber turn the corner and get good while still being cheap? If that works, sprinkling in some higher-priced talent doesn't seem like such a bad idea.
You can say all you want about the Sabres having a recruiting problem, but they will have tons of money after next season with Miller/Vanek being free agents. They only have 24 million committed to the cap for the 2014 season. If the cap goes back up - and it will - they will have tons of money to play with. Maybe they can pull a Miami Heat big three deal and sign three of those top FAs.
I know they have failed in the past with recruiting, but money talks and there has to be some redeeming qualities to playing in Buffalo, right? RIGHT?!
As for crying about Miller and Vanek not being dealt yet? Whatever. To me, the Sabres are going to suck this year with or without those guys. If Darcy thinks he can get more value at the deadline, which pretty much everyone always assumes is the case because of teams desperate to make a run, then what is the problem? Now if he lets them leave without getting compensation for them, then we should take that crane for HarborCenter that everyone is taking photos of and use it to knock down the F'N Center and break Darcy's nose with it. BTW, that's not hyperbole. I will commandeer that fucker and call it a day in jail.
Could things be better? Yes, we could have a different GM and a team that does not resemble a fucken tire fire. However, these are the cards I've been dealt and it is somewhat important to me to at least try to find the good in it before I lose my mind.
The record isn't going to matter this season for the Sabres.
It is going to be about young guys taking the next step. If the Sabres finish 12th and Tyler Ennis scores 30 goals and Marcus Foligno Gordie Howe's his way to a hat trick on 1/5 of his nights, I'll take that. Then go to town in free agency next year and sell your soul to the devil to get some of those guys.
The plan is set and I approve of it if it is executed well. I just don't have much confidence in the executioner.
Amusing take on Darcy, and a fun post to read. One does have to have hope, even if these are the cards we're dealt.
One thing though - I also do not subscribe to the "Darcy is a good drafter" narrative. He had some handicaps under Golisano, but he's probably okay at best. I'm much more impressed with his trading the last couple years. Still... tire fire of a team, and that's ultimately what counts.
@kallinan Thanks for reading. I agree to a certain extent on the trades. I thought DR before the lockout made outstanding moves. But since then, it has been a mix bag with Hodgson for Kassian being a good one for the time being. The last couple with prospects and picks are still in a wait and see mode while the ones previously at the deadline or summer were disastrous (See: Rivet, Moore, Torres, Boyes and others)
@JoeBuffalowins @kallinan Agreed. Darcy is good at making trades when he's a seller, because he always wants a bigger return than one can normally hope for, and at the deadline, as you mention, people are desperate. His trades when he's a buyer are weird, in that they always sound like awesome ideas at the time, but then never pan out. The thing I'm looking at closest are those 8 draft picks in the first 2 rounds the past two years. If Darcy did an average job, we can count 3 of the 4 first rounders to be difference makers, and 1-2 of the 4 seconds to be difference makers, just based on odds, though maybe 2-3 of the 2nds because of the depth of the draft. To me, that is how Darcy will make or break his employment status.
Yeah, I'm not impressed with Darcy's record as a buyer at the deadline. But he did alright trading for Regehr a couple years ago. Hodgson-Kassian definitely looks good. Darcy accumulated a lot of young talent over the past year or two. Since Pegula didn't already fire him, he probably will get the next year or two as freebies because we just blew up the team. But in 2-3 years time, we should be a perennial good playoff team. If not, it's really time for him to go.
@GuyOnABuffalo @JoeBuffalowins @kallinan Yeah, he's selling the public on drafting. If these guys flop or underachieve, what else is there for him? Problem is he may be hurrying these guys. Grigo wasn't close to ready last year and we played him out of desperation. These guys need to pay their dues in the minors for a good 2-3 years. Unless you are a top 5 pick, you shouldnt wear that jersey until a few years later.