Negative Stanley blew a gasket when he heard the Sabres gave up an asset to the Rangers to acquire forward Jimmy Vesey.

He was ranting as he paced back and forth. It was as if his hair were on fire. And, those who know him know, that is something he has no abundance of. We were a tad concerned as he has a slipped disc issue he is dealing with. He avoided back surgery but is now spending a considerable amount of time at the chiropractor’s office. Similar to Norm from Cheers. He rambled on to all five people visiting the chiropractor’s office.

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These folks were there for lower back bulging discs, herniated disks, strains, shoulder and neck/shoulder tuneups, and overall body adjustments. And, obviously, some more serious than others. These patients are not there for a high-level sports-related injury. No, these are guys who rent a golf cart when hitting a bucket at the driving range.

At the end of the day, these are the people who decline physical therapy because moving a big exercise ball with their feet would be a nuisance. However, the way they talk would make you think they injured in heroic form. When, in reality, it happened when they were tying their workboot or getting out of the car. Needless to say, I am making it crystal clear that these guys are opinionated, crusty, one-uppers. Expert storytellers who act like they were injured while securing gold medals for Team USA.

I am not excluding myself from that mix as my reasons for being at the chiropractor are not from my year’s of playing hockey. Nor did are they from frequent visits to the mountain to hit the slopes. Nope. My chiropractor tune-ups come from years of heavy lifting at jobs at both work and home. Not to mention lifting a Sony 35″ tube T.V. on several occasions doesn’t help either. So the “war” stories are usually lame exaggerated tales built up with manufactured drama or complaints about real athletes and teams. All while we sit in the waiting room for our shoe tying injury.

FPC NHL on SportsCastr: Free Agency Reaction


Now that we addressed that relevant information, Stanley was beside himself that Tim Murray traded a third-round pick for Jimmy Vessey back in 2016. Vessey attended Harvard and was nominated twice for the Hobey Baker Award. Winning it once. He played all four college years which made him a UFA by July of his senior year. So the team that drafted him, Nashville, was informed he would not be signing with them. They got what they could from a team. It just so happens that the team was the Sabres. At the end of the day, Vesey donned the red, white, and blue Rangers jersey. Not a Sabres’ one.

Earlier in Pegula’s ownership, he gambled with Christian Ehrhoff and it paid off. However, this fortune was not in the cards in the Vesey situation back in 2016. He chose the Rangers and owed Buffalo nothing.

So three years later the current GM, Jason Botterill, made a trade for Vesey. Botterill did surrender a third-round pick, however, he is under contract and will actually become a Sabre. Well, technically, he was a Sabre the first time. However, barring anything unforeseen, he will hit the ice with the Sabres for the first time. This marks the first time in professional sports that a player was traded to the same team, for the same compensation, twice.

He is no superstar. But, if put on the right line, he could flourish. In addition to his three years of NHL experience, Vesey spent four years at Harvard. There, he was a captain and named ECAC Player of the Year. And, as mentioned earlier, he was twice nominated for the Hobey Baker Award. He won the award in 2016 but, in 2015, lost out to Jack Eichel. One of his newest teammates.

Jimmy Vesey Career Numbers

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Circling back to 2016, Vesey did not mislead the Sabres in any way when they acquired his rights. He made it clear he was testing the waters of free agency. It was strictly a gamble on the part of Sabres management. Some work and some do not. So, if he turns out to be a good player for the Sabres, and you have the urge to dwell on the past, the Sabres will have spent two third-round picks on the Massachusetts native.

In 2016, Vesey bypassed the AHL and played well for the Rangers. His size and good hands translated well to the pro game. Given his production early on and the fact that those two third-round picks may never see NHL ice, the price may be worth it for the Sabres. Personally, I would trade two third rounders for a player who has already contributed to a talented team for three seasons. And, is most likely entering the prime of his carer where he should elevate his game.

Back to the chiropractor’s office.

Stanley reminded me of Brian Holzinger and Rob Stauber. Sabres’ players that have won the Hobey Baker award in the past. He implied it was like the old days of winning the Heisman and then being an NFL bust. He mentioned Jason White, Andre Ware, Chris Weinke, Pat Sullivan, Robert Griffin III, Gino Torretta, Tim Tebow, Matt Leinart, Danny Wuerffel, and Eric Crouch. I cut him off to mention Johnny Manziel which was where I drew the line as the conversation was trending towards football. I am well aware that football is the sport that he is most knowledgeable in. However, his implication that the Hobey Baker has the reputation that hindered the Heisman for many years is far from the truth.

Holzinger had a respectable NHL career. Never a superstar. However, there exist some highlight videos of him using his lightning speed. Far from a bust. The worst thing I can talk about with him was his defensive lapse when Brett Hull scored the Stanley Cup-winning goal, a.k.a “NO-GOAL”. In addition to Holzinger, Stauber earned a living as a journeyman backup goaltender. Once again, far from a bust and nothing to be ashamed of. Both players made some serious money doing what they did.

I then reminded Stanley that we had a good defenseman named Tom Kurvers who owns a Hobey Baker Award. Chris Drury was not too shabby either. Ryan Miller was darn good. Jordan Leopold had a solid NHL career spending some time in the Queen City. These are Hobey Baker winners that sported a Sabres’ sweater. I wowed the peanut gallery, reminding them that studs such as Johnny Gaudreau, Paul Kariya, and Neal Broten have also won the award.

His rebuttal was that they did not play for the Sabres. I quickly reminded him we were talking about Hobey Baker winners, not just Sabres with that claim. I also reminded him that he presented an entire list of football players as evidence for his testimony which was unrelated. And, of course, perhaps the most damming rebuttal to his claim… Jack Eichel.

Stanley actually conceded to me for potentially the first time ever. I do not think he anticipated my knowledge of the trophy. He even started to backpedal on the entire suggestion that Vesey owes the fans of Buffalo an apology. If anything, Stanley is the one who owes the fans of Buffalo the apology. The reality is, Vesey never agreed to come to Buffalo in 2016. He was not drafted by the team and was not involved with Murray trading for his rights. Stop holding meaningless unwarranted grudges. He chose the Rangers over the entire league, not just the Sabres. Buffalo just paid for the right to talk to him before the other teams.

So it appears I put the fire out in Stanley’s hair. No more pacing back-and-forth as he sat down. Had I just shut up the “Negative One” who knows everything? I think I may have. I really thought it would be a bigger deal than it was. No high fives. My name was not mentioned in the news. I did not have people offering to buy me a drink. I just shut him up which made the occupants of the chiropractor’s office relaxed and quiet. Good enough for me.

Things we know about the Buffalo Sabres this week:

  • The Sabres announced the team has signed forward C.J. Smith to a two-year contract. He had already been with the Amerks having much success.
  • The Buffalo Sabres announced the team has signed forward Jean-Sebastien Dea to a two-year contract
  • The Buffalo Sabres  signed goaltender Andrew Hammond

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