Spree pundits opine on the local
Jul 12, 2010
03:12 PMState of Play
Rob Niedermayer? Curb your enthusiam, Darcy.
In the weeks since the Sabres inked Rob Niedermayer to a contract last week, we've been force-fed a steady diet of pure tofu about his having won the Cup with the Anaheim Ducks in 2007.
Anyone else ready for a big, couldn't-possibly-care-less bacon double cheeseburger?
South Buffalo's Patrick Kane will bring the Stanley Cup home to South Buffalo this summer. Chris Pronger will have no such pleasure. Jonathan Toews will follow suit, if he hasn't already, as will Dustin Byfuglien, Antti Niemi, Dave Bolland, Troy Brouwer, and a bunch of other youthful worker bees you've never heard of.
Chris Drury, Jere Lehtinen, Tomas Holmstrom, and Vinny Lecavalier? They either sauntered off to an early spring or missed the postseason altogether. Jeez, they all won Cups before—how could it be their teams didn't win it all this summer?
Is anyone else starting to think this whole He's-Been-on-a-Cup-Winner mania is more myth than reality? Or are some fans simply confusing this guy with Scott Niedermayer?
Not since Springsteen, Bon Jovi, and The Sopranos has anything coming out of New Jersey been so overrated.
Call me radical, but I'm starting to think those kids who captured Chicago's first Cup since 1961 did so by virtue of skill, skill and a dollop of more skill. Agents, GMs, players and pundits, of course, would have us believe it wouldn't have been possible without the six minutes per game of fourth-line pivot John Madden, who thrice closed the deal with the Devils.
Undoubtedly, Blackhawks castoffs like Byfuglien, Chris Versteeg, Ben Eager, Andrew Ladd, and Brent Sopel will see their contracts someday swell in value simply because they boast a Cup on their resumes.
It's the kind of thing agents use as a cheap bargaining chip every summer, overinflating an already overinflated market. What's worse is that NHL GMs actually submit to the con job, July after July.
Darcy Regier sure did. He's been selling Niedermayer's Cup experience like Michael Bolton's agent imploring a major label to recall "The Hunger," as if that guarantees an unstoppable Top-40 hit, twenty-plus years later. Regier's conveniently forgetting Niedermayer was nowhere near the player the Florida Panthers thought they were getting when they took him fifth overall in 1993, and has bounced around from one NHL city to the next, distinguishing himself as little more than a third-line lunchpail guy. In sixteen NHL seasons, he's cracked the twenty-goal barrier but once ... fifteen years ago.
If his name being engraved on Lord Stanley's prize is such a can't-miss commodity, why didn't Anaheim, Calgary, and New Jersey scurry to make him a part of their long-term organizational future?
This doesn't attempt to diminish Niedermayer's value, whose one-year, $1.5 million deal won't be a cap-buster. It's not like this is Bob Corkum. He's an honest, physical, intelligent player who might be able to foster some maturity in the Sabres' younger players, the boys who must finally transition into men for this team to be a serious contender. But to play him off as an organizational panacea—some kind of key "missing piece"—is indeed sky-high rhetoric.
Yeah, Buffalo's new third-line anchor has won a Cup—just like about a dozen guys will do for the first time in their careers next June. Hopefully for them, it won't be their last. Niedermayer isn't likely to sniff the trophy for a second time, depending on how long he plans on sticking around in Buffalo.