Rivet's tenure typifies Sabres' underwhelming 'run'



From the moment he arrived in town until Wednesday morning—when the Buffalo Sabres mercifully cut the cord with Craig Rivet-—it was a match made in hell.

One wonders (one hopes, actually) if it's a new beginning with how the HSBC Keebler Tree will be run with the arrival of new owner Terry Pegula. Is it pure coincidence that less than 24 hours after Pegula was introduced to us, one of his team's biggest blunders was identified ... and rectified?

Perhaps. No matter the impetus behind placing Rivet on waivers, it's clearly the best thing for both the franchise and the veteran blue-liner, who obviously has very little tread left on his tires. It was time to move on. From the day he signed a three-year, $3.5 million deal with the Sabres, it was time to move on.

Don't expect too many teams to champ at the bit to secure him for an extended playoff run, for the bloated price of $850,000. Would you buy a broken-down Ford Tempo in preparation for the Indy 500?

The rugged ex-Habs and Sharks rearguard was touted as a tough, high-character veteran who could bring some leadership and grit to a bunch of kids who had clearly lost their way when the franchise allowed the likes of Chris Drury, Danny Briere, Brian Campbell (okay, let's not rehash the whole nightmare yet again) to walk.

He didn't exactly deliver. Now, no one could've positively predicted the 16-year veteran would struggle through injuries and suddenly stop being the physical force he was in his halcyon Montreal days. Then again, was it that hard a scenario to fathom?

Yes, hindsight is 20-20, but it was a bad sign when the players selected Rivet as their new captain before the guy could even go house hunting in Western New York. What did that say—what does is continue to say—about the state of the team? Not only was Rivet a bad choice for the captaincy, his unceremonious time as a Sabre underscores the need to obtain some actual captain-worthy material.

Rivet's collection of two years and more than a few million clams is yet another indictment of the hockey department's consistent failure to sign impact free agents. It's fair to postulate that General Manager Darcy Regier saw Rivet's career-high 35 points in 2007-08 and miscalculated that he'd duplicate that success here. It's the same kind of hamhanded thinking that landed Steve Montador, Mike Grier, Patrick Lalime, Rob Niedermayer.

We can only hope Rivet's exeunt is the first of many moves that will give us a refreshing view of a stale franchise. The NHL trading deadline is just days away now. It's too late to erase the poor use of free agent bread in these past few years of underachievement. But it's never too late to concede those mistakes and (gasp) do something about them.

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