(WGR - Bulldog) Ready to deal?
I had a thought last night as the Jarome Iginla trade drama was unfolding in Calgary. One of the many NHL writers I follow on Twitter posted something about moving the legendary Flames captain as necessary but also sad. Around the same time I came across a tweet from Daren Millard of Rogers Sportsnet that said the Sabres and Lightning were talking trade and that Ryan Miller was in play.
Recognizing that WGR's Paul Hamilton has been telling us for years to basically ignore all trade rumors involving the Sabres, Millers's name showing up on my Twitter feed like that made me stop and think about it.
Will they trade Miller? What about Vanek and Pominville? Now none of those guys share the same level of stardom as Jarome Iginla. Still, the reality of any of those three Sabres being moved is a bit jarring.
I think what happens to me is that I talk and talk about what I'd like to see happen with the Sabres and all the while, in the back of my mind, I'm thinking it'll never come to pass. This occurred to me when the Sabres fired Lindy Ruff. One minute I'm talking on the radio about how he needs to be fired. Then just like that, it's announced that he is indeed fired and one of my first thoughts was, damn, I really liked that guy.
To varying degrees, I really like Miller Vanek and Pominville. All three are, for better or worse, our guys. Drafted and groomed by the Sabres. Pominville was selected in 2001, didn't arrive for good in Buffalo until 2005, then 6 months later scored one of the greatest goals in franchise history. Vanek was on our radar even before he was drafted after we watched him lead Minnesota to an NCAA Championship here in Buffalo, scoring game winners in both the semi final and final games. Miller, the biggest star of the three, has really been a lightning rod for the past few seasons. Never afraid to speak his mind, his comments sometimes come off as condescending, providing ammunition for his critics.
I've wrestled with the amount of criticism Miller gets for years now. He's a big star in the league, so big that before he signed a contract extension in 2008 our collective insecurity had us worried he was going to leave us. He didn't and then it seems many fans decided he wasn't good enough. It's not personal, of course. Fans want to win and the Sabres with Miller haven't done nearly enough of it lately. Maybe hearing him referred to as the best goalie in the world after the Olympics made fans bristle. Best goalie in the world? Didn't the USA lose in the Olympic final?
I'm starting to get tangled up trying to figure out reasons for players being criticized. Bottom line to me, as Miller's star rose around the hockey world, it started sinking in Buffalo, and that will always fascinate me.
I feel like I am ready for the Sabres to move on from any or all three of their remaining core/star players.
That doesn't mean that their departures, should they come, won't still be jarring.