Jochen Hecht is once again a member of the Buffalo Sabres – and as a veteran leader of the team – will probably be a lock to make the opening night roster. I am not against Jochen Hecht in any way, shape or form, but I think the Buffalo Sabres should have done their due diligence prior to signing the veteran forward with a concussion history.
Signing Hecht to a one year deal makes sense in a couple of ways for both sides. The Buffalo Sabres are not tied into anything long term, the salary is manageable – Hecht contributes – as a third line utility player. He is the longest tenured member of the Blue and Gold club – and has a career plus minus of +94 while with the Buffalo Sabres.
For Jochen it is a way for him to end his NHL career on a high note. One year in the NHL doesn’t mean he has to hang up the skates and call it a career, but if may let him go out in a better fashion than being remembered as the guy who couldn’t lace it up in his final season because of an injury. The shortened season will advantage him, he’s not getting any younger. Adler Mannheim will not close the door on their hometown hero either, so his German hockey career will get picked back up next season regardless.
For the Buffalo Sabres though – signing and sticking with Jochen Hecht is not a sign of progress and moving towards the goal of winning the championship – lifting Lord Stanley’s Cup. Jochen Hecht is not the heart and soul of the Buffalo Sabres. While he may be a fan favorite – he is a utility player – that role player type that the Buffalo Sabres are known for overpaying for. In a cap squeeze, the Buffalo Sabres could have utilized a rookie or less developed player for less on a one year salary than the 1.2 they are probably paying Hecht.
Role players are interchangeable on a championship squad. The German presence in the Sabres locker room though could be a factor, with him joining fellow countrymen Alexander Sulzer and Christian Erhoff.
In my opinion, if the Buffalo Sabres were interested in giving him one last shot – they should have just invited him to camp and see how responsive the locker room was – to gauge his on ice ability and interest level first hand.