Losing Tim Kennedy is a bummer, but makes little difference



OK, everyone take a deep breath.

Feel better? Let's talk about this as mature adults, rather than reactionary zealots ready to storm the gates of Darcy Regier's and Larry Quinn's offices.

Tim Kennedy's unceremonious departure this week from the Buffalo Sabres won't make the difference between making and missing the playoffs next April. After all, our most prolific spring memory of the kid was him getting rag-dolled by a guy twice his age moments before a backbreaking goal in the first round of the playoffs.

Nevertheless, Sabres fans who narrowmindedly value grit over goals and fisticuffs over skill, would have us believe this son of South Buffalo's departure is tantamount to those of Chris Drury, Danny Briere, Brian Campbell, or Dominik Hasek. Puzzling as it might be, in reality, setting Kennedy free isn't even remotely as impactful as the bitter exists-stage-left of JP Dumont or Mike Peca. So stop pretending it's equally as shameful.

Now, understand that I agree: it absolutely sucks that the organization is run so frustratingly cheaply. I'll defend their refusal to overpay the likes of Peca, Drury and Dumont, but in the same breath toss them into the lava for being miserly with the likes of Pat Lafontaine, Donald Audette. But I have long since accepted that Messrs. Golisano and Quinn do, in fact, run the team, and are doing so as they see fit, steadfastly remaining well under the salary cap. Hey, owners get to own on their terms. Just ask Ralph Wilson, Harold Ballard, and Bill Wirtz.

Complaining about the misers in management but then packing HSBC Arena to the gills rings as hollow as throwing a hissy fit over New York State lawmakers ... and then ceding them another two or four years each passing November. When you come to terms with how business is done in the organization's front office, you see this move for what it is: a sound business decision.

Earlier this summer, the franchise vowed to get bigger and stronger after being shoved around the ice against the league's real contenders the past few seasons. With Derek Roy, Tyler Ennis, and Nathan Gerbe already in the fold, how does retaining Kennedy help that cause? The mascot name is the Sabres, not the Shetlands.

Be honest: you just can't get past the fact Kennedy's a Buffalo boy, especially if you're one of his neighbors on the south side. If he hailed from Windsor, Ontario, or even Fairport, for that matter, we'd quickly turn the other cheek and rationalize the move away. Difficult as it may be to gulp down, this is probably a well-prescribed pill.

Let's make an honest evaluation of Kennedy. He's 5'10", 173 lbs, undersized in today's NHL unless you're a prolific scorer, passer or hitter. He scored 10 goals and 26 points as a rookie, and all but disappeared from games twenty through sixty-five. It didn't help his case that Tyler Ennis looked eons ahead of Kennedy in his development when he was called up.

If he was so valuable at $1 million, why did all twenty-nine teams pass on him—once when he was offered via trade, and then again on waivers? The market, not to mention the minds of twenty-nine NHL general managers, is typically a safe indicator of any player's value.

Not only do Ennis and Gerbe project as a much better NHLers in the future, they're already better right now. Blame the Sabres for this much: they made the wrong move by keeping Kennedy on the big club last October while sending Ennis to the minors. Less than a year later, the organization is paying for it. But the Sabres are saving $666,666 over two years, and they'll need all the available cash they can get to retain younger players who are, to be brutally frank, much better bets than Kennedy.

Buffalo was prepared to pay what they thought their player was worth: $605,000, and even upped the ante to $800,000, advising Kennedy all along that they wanted no part of an arbitration meeting in Toronto. Kennedy brushed the warning off, an arbiter awarded him $1 million. It simply didn't fit in the budget, especially after the signings (for better or worse) of Jordan Leopold, Rob Niedermayer, and Shaone Morrisonn.

I understand this move feels like a kick in the ribs. It may seem like I'm defending the Manson Family—and at some stages of this blog, I've felt that. But when organizations and players alike say "It's a business," they're not joking.

Just listen to all the laughs this latest offering has induced.

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