Trust in Ted Black.
My mantra has not failed me yet. When I heard that the Sabres were keeping Darcy Regier after the Terry Pegula acquisition, my initial reaction was, “This is more of the same.” When they made a single move, albeit a good one, at the trade deadline, I figured it was just a hair better than par for the course. When Robyn Regehr took a while to decide to waive his no trade clause, I was nervous that this ownership’s first big move would fall on its face. When this team traded for the negotiating rights to a player that had rejected two teams prior, one of which was the President’s Trophy and Stanley Cup Finals visiting Canucks, I thought it was way too much to risk.
Then I remembered that Ted Black was brought here for one reason: he knows how to build a champion. He set the pieces in place, and through trickling down I trust his general manager. And the players they choose.
So people are doubting the latest move? Cue the incredulous stare of a Finn.
Look at him. The Sabres didn’t sign an NHL player, they signed a UFC fighter that can skate and score in the playoffs. Ville Leino looks like he’s going to take the herpderp out of a Bucky Gleason column, squeeze it in his hands until it’s solid mass, fashion it into a shiv, and use it to tattoo the words NEVER DOUBT TED BLACK into his own forehead. He saw your tweet or your blog post or your comment doubting this move and you know what he did? He shit in it. Shit right in your little corner of the internet. Because he doesn’t doubt Ted Black, and gosh golly I won’t either.
Here’s where you tell me that this is Darcy Regier, not Ted Black. This is Terry Pegula’s money being tossed around haphazardly. Get it straight: Pegula brought in Black because he knows how to build a hockey team, and Black kept Regier to see what he can do. This is a safe move after two moves that were anything but safe. Really? Safe? Leino has been in the NHL for only three seasons, and every year he’s gone deeper into the playoffs than any Sabre save the recently acquired Chistian Ehrhoff.
In three post-seasons he has 10 goals and 18 assists which gives him more points in the playoffs than Thomas Vanek. Munch on that fact for a few minutes.
The reason you haven’t heard of him before last year (or maybe you heard of him when he was in Detroit) is because he was winning championships and breaking scoring records in Finland. No, it’s not as prestigious as playing in the NHL, but maybe he just didn’t give a damn. Or maybe, just maybe, people didn’t have faith in him and he had to earn his way to America, to the NHL. And by the time he did the Red Wings, the Detroit. Red. Wings., couldn’t keep him in the AHL. Then the Philadelphia Flyers got ahold of him for two seasons in which they got knocked out by the team that happened to win the Stanley Cup.
For anyone that thinks it’s some sort of sign that the Flyers didn’t sign him, they also traded away Mike Richards and Jeff Carter, then signed Jaromir Jagr (who is 39 years old and hasn’t played in the NHL in 3 years) a $3 million contract. They didn’t pass on Leino because they didn’t want him, they passed because Holmgren was busy having a stroke.
Now he’s your guy. Paul Hamilton doesn’t think he can be a #2 center, thinks maybe he’ll be a third line center or a winger. I don’t care where he plays, Ville Leino will be a difference maker on the ice. He got overshadowed in Philly, battling for ice time alongside Mike Richards, Jeff Carter, Danny Briere, Claude Giroux, James van Riemsdyke (remember, JVR was apparently so good he was the #1 star of playoff games he didn’t even score it), and Scott Hartnell. I don’t know how Laviolette doles out ice time, but Lindy Ruff gives it to the hardest worker.
Well the Sabres have the hardest worker, and he flourishes the more ice time he gets. I think that’s the offensive upside Darcy was talking about today.
I hear rumblings that $4.5 million is too much money for him. The way I see it, the Sabres did what they did the last two years with Tim Connolly eating up that cap hit. Now the salary cap has gone up ($4.5 million doesn’t mean as much as it did last year), the defense is stacked, and they’ve got a guy who is tougher, more consistent, harder working, much less injury prone, and infinitely more clutch in the playoffs than Tim Connolly. There’s your upgrade to center. Or wing. Or wherever the hell he wants to play, I don’t care.
For as much as Buffalo prides itself on being a working class town with white knuckles and blue collars, I’m sure they’re going to love Ville Leino as soon as he roars out the gates. It might take some people a few games, but it’ll happen. And I don’t blame anybody, I repeat…I DO NOT BLAME ANYBODY for being a bit disappointed right now. The bar was set high. There was that Brad Richards cat that everybody was going on about, and there were rumors for trades for Stastny and Spezza and, Hell, I was pulling for Evgeni Malkin. In fact, at about 3:00 I looked down and noticed that Ville Leino’s name was on the UFA list and I said, “I wonder if…nah, let’s get that elite center.” I’m with you.
We’ve got spending hangover. We crushed all the Halloween candy and right now the candy apple doesn’t look that appealing. The Sabres dropped $40 million on a top tier defender who was intent on being a UFA. They uprooted a mean, nasty, stud defender that wanted to stay put in Calgary. We were talking all week, if not longer, about who could be here and we believed what we said…salivating at the chance of having a 90 point, dominant, elite centerman.
Here’s the reality check. Darcy Regier knew he probably could hang with New York or Toronto or whoever the hell he wanted to in terms of landing Brad Richards. The Sabres proved that they are no longer on the back burner in the league, and they used Terry Pegula’s wallet to crush the idea that they can’t get the big names to sign here. I honestly, fully believe that if Regier’s sights were set on Brad Richards, the man would be wearing blue and gold. They’ve sold me on that.
Regier wanted Leino. Ted Black wanted Regier.
I am from Buffalo, New York. I have never, ever, ever, ever witnessed a major league championship team. But Ted Black has built one in Pittsburgh, and he does know what he’s doing. So if you’re nervous, have faith in him.
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Topics: Buffalo Sabres, Darcy Regier, Derek Roy, Detroit Red Wings, Drew Stafford, Eastern Conference, Fansided, Free Agency, Hockey, Jason Pominville, Jhonas Enroth, Lindy Ruff, New York Islanders, New York Rangers, NHL, Northeast Division, Olympics, Patrick Kaleta, Patrick Lalime, Philadelphia Flyers, Pittsburgh Penguins, Playoffs, Portland Pirates, Ryan Miller, Sabres, Stanley Cup, Ted Black, Terry Pegula, Thomas Vanek, Tim Connolly, Toronto Maple Leafs, Trade, Trade Deadline, Tyler Ennis, Tyler Myers, Ville Leino