Tim Kennedy: The Buffalo Sabres Think Less Is More

TJ LuckmanCorrespondent IAugust 4, 2010

BUFFALO, NY - MARCH 27: Tim Kennedy #13 of the Buffalo Sabres cuts around the net as Martin St. Louis #26 and Mike Smith #41 of the Tampa Bay Lightning defend at HSBC Arena on March 27, 2010 in Buffalo, New York.  (Photo by Rick Stewart/Getty Images)
Rick Stewart/Getty Images

In a surprising move by the Sabres organization two days ago, the team has decided that they can do without center Tim Kennedy going forward.  Just days earlier, Tim Kennedy had been awarded a million dollar arbitration settlement, which the Sabres were forced to accept due to a clause in the collective bargaining agreement stating that any arbitration awards under $1.6 million must be accepted for the 2010-11 season.  

It's unfortunate for both the team and Kennedy that it had to be this way.  

Tim Kennedy was a South Buffalo product when he was drafted by the Washington Capitals in the 6th round of the 2005 NHL Entry Draft.  He was immediately traded to the Buffalo Sabres organization after that, and from then on, remained a positive local product on his team.  

He went on to play college hockey with Michigan State where he achieved moderate popularity over a coast-to-coast goal scored over rival Michigan.   The video has so far totaled almost 824,000 views.

Before long, Kennedy was playing for his favorite childhood team when he was called upon to play one game in their 2008-2009 season.  While he received minimal experience in the NHL in that one game, he was making a name for himself in Portland, where he played for the Sabres American Hockey League affiliate, the Portland Pirates.  Kennedy scored 19 goals to go along with 67 points in the 2008-09 season.  

In 2009-10, Kennedy impressed enough in camp to make the big club, playing 78 games and scoring 26 points as a third line center.  He had his ups and downs, but he wasn't horrible by any means.  In the playoffs, he scored three points in his six games before the Sabres were knocked out.  

It was a feel good story for Kennedy until August 2nd, when the Sabres informed Kennedy that he would be waived, and most likely bought out.  

"I expected maybe them telling me that because of the award the arbitrator gave me that more would be expected of me.  I did not expect that," Kennedy said to the Buffalo News.  "It totally blindsided me."

The news came on the heels of Kennedy's arbitration award, where it is believed that the Sabres were unhappy with the award that Kennedy received.  Darcy Regier obviously believed that Kennedy was not worth that much money.  

It all seemed like this was Regier's revenge against Kennedy for going to arbitration in the first place.  

"The one thing I will never begrudge a player is his right to exercise whatever his rights are under the collective bargaining agreement," said Regier on the notion that he may have, indeed, begrudged a player for going to arbitration.  "There is no room for retribution, there is no room for being vindictive.  But it's a tough business, sometimes."

Regier went on to reiterate that he did not believe that Kennedy was in trouble and that he is a good player.  He truly believes that sooner than later, a team will make a play for Kennedy.

Another point Regier brought up was that he would like to carry a 22-man roster this year, rather than the normal 23-man roster that teams can have at maximum.  

Why would that be a problem with Kennedy on the roster?  

Well, Kennedy's contract was guaranteed for the season, and it was only a one-way deal.  Therefore, the Sabres could not send him down to Portland at a lighter dollar amount, which is what a two-way deal in the NHL does.  

The Sabres roster was simply full and they had no wiggle room with Kennedy on the roster.  Since Kennedy's contract was deemed too high for a player like himself, Darcy took the vindictive way out and waived the South Buffalo product for only a third of his actual contract.  

It's disappointing that none of this led to a trade that perhaps a few people may have been expecting.  

All the signs were there: the clearing of a roster space, the clearing of, albeit, minimal cap space, a press conference set for the next day, etc.  

However, that never came to fruition.  Instead, the Sabres signed a defenseman at a higher cap hit than Kennedy's would have been this year.   

Two days later, most people, including myself, are simply looking at this as a business decision.  Regier thought that Kennedy's award was too high for a player of his caliber.  It's funny that he takes action for a player who makes peanuts compared to players like Jason Pominville ($5.3 million), Jochen Hecht (3.525 million), or Paul Gaustad ($2.3 million).  But it is what it is.  

Regier thinks that this makes the team better.  Let's hope that for a man who gets a lot of beef in Buffalo, gets it right, as he does more often than not.  

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