“Don’t boo me when I come back,” the defenseman said this afternoon shortly after being traded to the San Jose Sharks.
It’s tough being a small-market sports fan, especially when the sport in question is hockey. For all the talk of parity in the NHL, it’s clear that there are two classes of teams – those willing to spend money to acquire and retain top talent, and the Buffalo Sabres.
The Sabres suffered losing their two top centermen to free agency last off-season, after posting the best record in the NHL and their second Eastern Conference Championship loss in a row. One can argue about front office mistakes in not signing Briere and Drury, but in the end, it was their turn to cash in on a big contract, and Buffalo was unwilling or could not afford to pay. (Let us not forget also that the Sabres were up against the salary cap all of last season.)
And now we have a home-grown NHL superstar in Brian Campbell – two-time All Star, spin-o-rama skater, and open-ice hitter of R.J. Umberger – now due his big pay day at the end of this season, as he becomes eligible for free agency. What are the Sabres to do?
Well, the only move is to trade him. The Sabres could not risk losing him for nothing, and Campbell and his agent seemed luke warm about signing something before the trade deadline. I certainly can’t blame either party.
But, I can feel sad. Being a fan of a small-market team is tough, and I’d be lying if I weren’t a little jealous that the Rangers or Ducks can just go buy whomever they want every year. In Buffalo, we have to make our own stars.
After the jump, some highlights from Soupy’s career in Buffalo, including some of his hilariously horrible local television commercials.