If you read any of the daily links today, you know that the public sentiment regarding the Tim Kennedy buyout is one of disgust. Sabres fans, and apparently the media, are not happy that Tim Kennedy will not wear a Sabres uniform next season. How could the Sabres let hometown boy Tim Kennedy walk over what amounted to $200K? The truth is, this decision was about much more than $200K.
If this decision was about only money, the Sabres had other players they could have bought out to save money. This decision came down to not paying a guy $1 million when there are similar or better players available for cheaper. Some of those players are already part of the organization.
Since the playoffs ended, with a disappointing first round loss, people have been going gaga over Tyler Ennis and to a lesser extent Nathan Gerbe. Where do Ennis and Gerbe fit if Kennedy is still on the roster? The experiment to play Kennedy at center failed miserably and thus the Sabres were stuck with another left-winger. The same position as Ennis and Gerbe who are pushing for a roster spot and Thomas Vanek and Jochen Hecht, who are firmly entrenched in their positions.
The truth is that Kennedy didn't fit in on this roster. He was just another player that was trying to make the team. In other words, he priced himself out of Buffalo with his arbitration award. I'm sure the Sabres would have loved to keep him for depth at a lesser contract but at $1 million, he became expendable for a cheaper and possibly better model.
The bigger question is...why was Tim Kennedy so popular?
I asked this question on Twitter just a couple of weeks ago. Why is Drew Stafford an outcast to Sabres fans while Tim Kennedy is one of the more popular players on the team? I feel the reason is simple. He grew up in Buffalo and we all love to see a hometown boy live out his childhood dream. It is nice to see a hometown kid play for his hometown team, but don't we all want to see a Stanley Cup in Buffalo?
Stafford vs. Kennedy
It is virtually impossible to compare the two players but they have been linked together because of what I call the Bucky Gleason brainwash. Gleason has been promoting the departure of Connolly, Roy and Stafford for quite sometime and he has used players like Kennedy as an example. He did it again in his article today.
Through it all, Regier rationalized that the Sabres were somehow better after removing a good player -- his term for Kennedy -- because they had $666,666 to spend elsewhere, such as defense, after the $333,333 buyout. He also could have bought out Drew Stafford and saved $1.53 million to spend elsewhere, such as better defensemen.
While they could have bought out Drew Stafford and saved more money, I wonder how this would make the team better. Both Stafford and Kennedy are 24 years-old but Stafford has played four seasons in the NHL and Kennedy has played only one season. Stafford struggled last season and had his lowest offensive output as a professional with only 14 goals and 20 assists. Kennedy scored 10 goals and added 16 assists as a rookie.
Offensive numbers are not the only bit of misinformation that is given when comparing the two players. Stafford is considered a one-dimensional offensive minded player but he has never been a minus player in his four professional seasons. Tim Kennedy is considered by many to be a defensive minded two-way forward but he was a minus player in his only NHL season.
In truth, Kennedy wasn't their most important player. He had 10 goals and 26 points last season as a rookie and struggled through a brutal 19-game stretch. But he was a solid, gritty winger who played well defensively and came on strong offensively late in the season. He kept his ears open, his mouth closed and did what was asked.
Tim Kennedy was not going to be the difference between a Stanley Cup and another first round exit for the Sabres. In fact he might have spent most of the season in Portland. While TK is a good player, it was easy to see that Ennis and Gerbe probably have a higher ceiling than TK does. That made this move easy for the Sabres because TK was easy to replace.
I understand that people will continue to form their own opinion regarding this move and what it means for the future of the organization but, instead of being angry because a local kid was released, we should be excited because the Sabres took a chance. Many teams buyout contracts and they become better for it, the Sabres finally took a chance and did something they thought would make them better. After all, the amount of money he will receive from Buffalo is much less than if he stayed, but the Sabres are paying TK to play elsewhere. That says something about the Sabres decision.