When the Sabres season ended, the speculation started. Would the Sabres sign Drury or Briere? How much money would they command? Questions, Questions, Questions!
In the middle of the season we thought Drury might cash in on a $6mil/year long term contract. And with “leading scorer” statistics, Briere might get more.
Now, as we close in on July 1, those salary estimates seem bargain basement. Drury and Briere are the top commodities on the market… and everything points to the market being well above $7mil/year mark for each player.
So I HAVE to ask, did the Sabres ever really plan to sign either of them?
Was it ever really a consideration? Yesterday Regier said that there has been “no sense of urgency” in talks with Briere and Drury. All but a single shred of evidence point to the fact that these guys are as good as GONE!
So, what’s that one shred of evidence that could infer they did
intend to make a serious run after one of the captains? A single comment from Larry Quinn.
In a recent press conference, Quinn adamantly expressed that the Sabres would be increasing their payroll from last year. Connecting the dots from that comment means that for the Sabres to spend $44million, they would HAVE to sign a big name player. And you would figure it would be one of their own captains? Seems to make sense right?
Let me first remind you however, Quinn also said previously (in two separate forums) that the Sabres would be much more “fiscally responsible” when it comes to their payroll for 2008.
So… what’s the truth? Here’s my take.
I think it’s pretty clear that Drury and Briere were never in the long-term plans to begin with. I also think Quinn's comment about expecting to increase salary next year was a classic (and well executed) "cover your ass"
Now it’s all set up for the Sabres to claim the following official position:
“We wanted to sign them... as we told you, we were fully prepared to increase our salary to bring them back… but these two players clearly didn't want to come back to Buffalo.”
They can play off Drury and Briere as the money-grubbing-villians. The Sabres get the “poor us” excuse and sympathy from the fans. And all the while they never really expected to spend the money in the first place.
Now whether or not this is the right decision for the franchise is another story for another day… But that’s my take on the “story behind the story” so far.
What do you think?
(By the way, I happen to believe letting them both go IS the right move to ensure long-term success. More on that later!)