Saturday, 18 April 2015

Tim Murray kind of wanted Connor McDavid, sort of.

Despite all the brave words and misdirection prior the lottery balls falling, all the references to Jack Eichel being more than a mere consolation prize, Sabres GM Tim Murray couldn't hold back after the announcement that the Oilers would pick first overall.

He was shattered.  Crestfallen.  And said this:
"This is two years of me coming up here, and uh, it's a two-minute draw I guess, and uh, one team is happy and the rest aren't, so, uh, I don't know what they're going to do with it, the league may think this is the best system, and if it is, I support them, but uh, it almost feels like you're a World Junior player and  getting that call at 6 in the morning from Team Canada saying that you haven't made it again this year.  So, you know what, we'll get over it, we'll get back to work tomorrow and get ready for the draft.

"I feel for the fans, we went through a tough year, ..., they were extremely excited about it, watching him play in Erie, I do feel bad for them, but we have to play the hand we're dealt, and get ready for it."

He only forgot to add "Welcome to the Sabre family Jack!"

Evidently, Jack Eichel is a very bitter dish to be served when you were eyeing that slab of OHL prime beef, dreaming about it, and had scuttled your own ship two seasons in a row to engineer a way to land him.

This is a telling moment, and I'm going to take comfort from it.  I've been afraid that the Sabres were amassing so many picks and prospects that they'd an unstoppable juggernaut for a generation, one which we couldn't match up against with our feeble Arturri Lehkonens and Sven Andrighettos.

But now, I think the Sabres organization isn't being led by a nouveau-Sam Pollock, but rather that the guy is as described, impulsive, tempestuous, and may make some rash decisions more worthy of Mike Milbury.

First, it's worrisome for sane Buffalo fans that he reacted this badly, was so unprepared for this eventuality, when it fact it was the overwhelmingly more likely scenario, that his team would be leapfrogged like this.  For over a year he's known that the last-place finisher had a 20% chance of picking first.  He knew that he had an 80% chance of ending up with Jack Eichel.  It shouldn't have been such a shock.

So Tim Murray isn't no genius, he ain't too acquainted with all that fancy book learnin' and math stuff.  He's no cold, calculating clinician, he's wasted the year dreaming about the unlikely, rather than preparing for the probable.  He leads with his heart, he's emotional.  He can be manipulated, swindled.

Also, he's kind of poisoned the well, sent the very clear message to young Mr. Eichel that he's the second choice, by a wide margin.  In his mind, it's obviously not a Taylor vs. Tyler scenario, or a Peyton Manning/Ryan Leaf decision, one where the #1 choice isn't all that clear.  It's more of a Mario Lemieux-Kirk Muller deal, getting the #2 is equivalent to getting coals in your stocking.  "Sorry kid, there's no more blueberry pie.  Have an apple for dessert."

This can be handled, smoothed over, but compare this to the way Peter Chiarelli for example had said all the right things during the Taylor-Tyler process and while holding the #2 pick, intoned unfailingly that whichever player he ended up with, his team would be over the moon, they're both fine young men, tremendously talented, etc.

Tim Murray bungled his reaction.  If that's his poker-face, I want to sit across from him next time he's playing cards.  I need a new La-Z-Boy, the one with the massage function and the little fridge.

And I can't finish this meandering train of thought without torpedoing Gary Bettman's brazen lies and manipulations that teams weren't tanking, weren't intentionally stripping their rosters to lose games and increase their odds of getting the #1 pick.

I repost from HockeyInsideOut:
Un Canadien errant        MARCH 4, 2015 AT 5:20 PM

Louis Jean (of TVA) asks Gary Bettman about the NHL’s perception of Buffalo and Arizona divesting themselves of players and racing to the bottom.
“I don’t think they want to finish as low as they can in the standings, what they’re doing is they’re looking at the assets they have, and they’re deciding what they need to go forward, and as you said they’re accumulating lots of draft picks in return for players because they’re rebuilding. And if you have a team that hasn’t been as successful as you want, then you have to make decisions. And if it looks like you’re not going to make the playoffs, and that’s not something new this year it goes on every year, that teams that don’t think they’re going to make the playoffs decide how they’re going to rebuild going into the future, and generally it’s through accumulating young prospects and draft picks, that you can grow.”

And Louis Jean, fresh off the announcement that TVA Sports has been awarded the broadcast rights for the World Cup in French in Canada, replies: “A formula that has worked extremely well for the Pittsburgh Penguins, the Chicago Blackhawks, etc.”
Sure Gary.  Look at Tim Murray's deflated countenance, his mounting sense of righteous anger that two full seasons of tanking were for naught.

He wasn't looking to accumulate "young prospects and draft picks", he was looking to hook into the biggest prize at the fishing derby in a decade.  He was looking to land Connor McDavid, and no one else.  He intentionally threw this season.

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