Spree pundits opine on the local
Jun 10, 2011
06:29 AMState of Play
No room for these old faces with new-look Sabres
Is there no end to our nostalgia as Buffalo Sabres fans? There's been a lot of squawking on the airwaves, in print—and of course here in the brainless, lowbrow quagmire of cyberspace—that some old faces are looking for new jobs.
Yes, Chris Drury and Rick Dudley are now among the NHL's unemployed. Many have, with straight faces and solemn resolve, argued that both should be brought back. Call it Back to the Future Part IV: Ahead to the Past.
I don't get it. Here I was naively thinking the new era in Buffalo Sabres hockey meant just that: new. As in, out with old, dysfunctional ways and in with new, refreshing endeavors.
I loved my freshman year in college; those blurry, Polaroids caroming around my gray matter hold a special place in my heart. But I'd be loathe to repeat those two semesters.
Look, we had a wonderful ride with Drury. He arrived to a shambles in the summer of 2003 but then helped build a spacious mansion, leading the team in two magical and unforgettable seasons to the brink of the Stanley Cup Finals. Six seasons later, a shadow of his former self, are we going to initiate a force-shutdown and reboot?
Believe whatever helps you sleep at night regarding his unceremonious departure in July of 2007. There are those who reflexively blame the organization for everything, Drury's leaving included, but put down the Ted Nolan bobblehead for just a second and accept that there was plenty of blame to go around.
It's emerged that Drury turned down essentially the same offer from Buffalo to join the Rangers, and that he and his camp acted petulantly and unprofessionally in their dealings with the team back in '07. For whatever reason, he'd obviously planned his exit strategy long before the actual exit.
Drury and his apologists would say he wanted to go where he had a chance to win, and join an organization with more integrity. That argument's implausible, since the Blueshirts have run their organization like clowns on LSD for the past 15 years. Drury's escape from Buffalo was a giant middle finger to the organization, the community, and the fans. Now we're going to greet him at the airport upon his return?
By the way, given the $25 million the Rangers dropped on Drury, he rivals only Starlight Express and the Spiderman as some of Broadway's bigger flops.
As for Dudley, I'm just not ready to accept he's the miracle worker many would have us believe he is. Yes, he was a great trooper both on the ice and behind the bench in Buffalo. He carved out a solid reputation as an NHL executive, but he's made a lot of stops—brief stops indeed—in Ottawa, Tampa Bay, Florida, Chicago and now, Atlanta.
If Dudley's such a hockey whiz, why weren't these franchises falling over themselves to retain his services? Now, this is no slight against Dudley the person, but it makes one wonder if he's always been a victim of circumstance (most recently with the fledgling Winnipeg franchise), or if he just can't play nice with the other kids in the front office.
Besides, it's far beyond realistic to believe that after all these years of all Darcy Regier all the time, Dudley would fit into the hockey department like a square peg.
Yeah, Duds and Drury had their time as Sabres, and we can look back on them fondly. As for the future, let's find the next great executive and heart-and-soul captain, rather than recycling the old ones.