Depending on what happens to the Buffalo Sabres franchise in the coming seasons, this past Monday, July 2, may end up as the most infamous day in their history. On the first day of free agency, the team lost their two captains, Chris Drury and Daniel Briere. Briere led the team with 95 points, while Drury was the leader on special teams and scored what seemed like every clutch goal. During a press conference held yesterday, GM Darcy Regier and President Larry Quinn tried to assuage the fans that the team isn't falling apart, and attempted to deflect blame for the departures. Briere's contract was huge, signing with the Philadelphia Flyers for 8 years and $52 Million. It would have been almost impossible to retain him considering the Sabres limited room under the salary cap, although it may have been possible to lock him into a more reasonable long-term deal if they started negotiations before the start of this past season.
The Drury deal is where a lot of confusion is arising. He signed with the New York Rangers for 5 years and $35.25 million. Regier and Quinn claim they were ready to match that offer, but that Drury simply wanted to go to NYC, as it was the team he cheered for as a kid. But now the Buffalo News is reporting that the Sabres had a deal in place for Drury last fall, for a four-year deal worth $21.5 million. But according to the News, the Sabres management never followed up on the negotiations, and never provided him a contract to sign. Essentially they're accused of being wildly incompetent and/or arrogant.
All of this is hard to swallow after such a phenomenal season, and hopefully Regier and Quinn will have a reasonable answer to these allegations. Otherwise the entire organization comes off looking like a pack of (nicely tanned) idiots.
At least the Bills signed veiny Pro Bowl punter Brian Moorman to an extension. That's exciting.