Fallout for Sabres, Wild, Sens; Also: the best trades
Posted: Friday February 29, 2008 4:04PM; Updated: Friday February 29, 2008 4:04PM
It seems like an annual event now. A player says he doesn't want to leave Buffalo and then he's packing his bags and firing a head-high slap shot on the way out the door.
This year. the honor came early and fell to two-time All-Star defenseman Brian Campbell. The Sabres made it easy for him to go.
"I could have signed," he said of the last-days offer he received, an offer he clearly saw as woefully inadequate for a player of his stature. The Sabres were said to have offered a three-year deal at about $17.25 million, but Campbell, who grew up with the Sabres after they made him a sixth-round pick in 1997, had progressed to the point where he was looking for his first long-term deal. The Sabres weren't about to give it up.
"It could have been," he said. "But they did what they had to do and I did what I had to do. For me, I wanted to be here for the long term. I think I made that clear in a lot of ways and it didn't happen. The money was good and stuff, but I can't sign a deal like that. You see what happens in the NHL. A person (Richard Zednik) almost lost his life here a couple of weeks ago. The time table is short and you have to look out for No.1."
The Sabres have been making the usual post-loss noise about getting more aggressive in their signings and coming to terms with requests for long-term deals, but they have a history of doing otherwise.
So much for the famed Minnesota Nice.
In acquiring eight-times-suspended Chris Simon from the New York Islanders, Wild GM Doug Risebrough picked up the wrath of media and a great many fans. He held his shaky ground, however, noting that Simon (whose last two suspensions were for 25 and 30 games for blatant attempts to injure an opponent) plays the kind of game that will suit the Wild well in the rugged Western Conference.
Translation: If those guys with Ducks on their sweaters try to push us around, we'll be ready.
Simon is a complex character, but also the kind of player and person you root for in that you hope he can solve his issues because he is genuinely liked by teammates and has a caring for and commitment to them. But his last two over- the-top actions had him cross-checking Ryan Hollweg in the face with a two-handed swing that A Rod would be proud to call his own and then skate-stomping Jarkko Ruutu in an act that could have earned him a role in Sweeny Todd, the Butcher of Fleet Street.
Simon says he's ready to move past all that. Commissioner Gary Bettman has stated that he'll be watching with interest. How much interest is debatable as Bettman has never permanently barred a player from the game -- not even Bryan Marchment. who racked up 13 suspensions in a career best known for knee on knee hits.