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August 26, 2010 - Matt Spielman
Alright South Buffalo, close your eyes — Tim Kennedy for $1 million would have been a rip-off. I know, nobody wants to hear that because he's from South Buffalo and he was playing for his hometown Sabres, but that doesn't erase the fact that he was not worth his arbitration award.
Just take a look to this past season's playoffs for the evidence. During Game 3, with the series tied one game apiece and the game tied, 1-1, late in regulation, 42-year-old Mark Recchi manhandled Kennedy in the corner and fed Patrice Bergeron in front for the eventual game-winning goal that tilted the series in Boston's favor. Now remember, this was the tenacious, gritty blue-collar Kennedy — not on the team because of his goal scoring or playmaking, but on the roster to make plays exactly like the one he just failed to make — that Recchi overpowered.
Whether Darcy Regier admits it or not, that $1 million was used elsewhere. It was not a coincidence that hours after announcing they had waived Kennedy, the Sabres signed defenseman Shaone Morrisonn to a two-year deal.
Buffalo fans are upset with Tim Connolly and Derek Roy as their top centers, but the numbers show that they produce — albeit in the regular season and not so much in the playoffs — but they produce. The same cannot be said of Kennedy, who scored 10 goals and added 16 assists this past season. With numbers like that and only one year of experience, Kennedy should not have challenged the Sabres to an arbitration hearing. It would not be in Regier's best interests to say that Buffalo felt slighted by the arbitration hearing, but behind closed doors, I'm sure that was the case.
Even Drew Stafford, with the terrible season he had, had two more points and was a plus player for the Sabres this past season. And what Buffalo fans may not realize is that Stafford is just a few months older than the waived Kennedy.
Regier and head coach Lindy Ruff will say that spots are up for grabs this training camp and preseason, but in all reality the 12 forwards are already locked into place and I wouldn't switch Kennedy for any of them. Thomas Vanek, Jason Pominville, Connolly, Roy, Jochen Hecht, Mike Grier, Paul Gaustad, Tyler Ennis, Nathan Gerbe, Cody McCormick, Patrick Kaleta and Rob Niedermayer are all pretty much assured of making the team. Mark Mancari has an outside chance of cracking the lineup for maybe McCormick or Gerbe, but I wouldn't bet on that either.
Kennedy will probably end up in a better place for playing time as a result of the Sabres waiving him. His new team might not have as good of a shot at team success, and he can thank himself for that.
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