BUFFALO, NY - MARCH 26:  Tim Connolly #19 of the Buffalo Sabres skates with the puck during the game against the Ottawa Senators at HSBC Arena on March 26, 2010 in Buffalo, New York. (Photo by Rick Stewart/Getty Images)

There’s a line that gets used a lot when discussing hockey players – especially good players who aren’t quite up to elite status.  ‘Player X can’t lead Team X to the Cup,’ a fan, or a writer will say, as though that were the end of it.  After all a Stanley Cup is the goal of all 30 NHL clubs, and if Player X can’t lead his team to the cup that’s the end of the matter, isn’t it?


That’s just one of the idiotic clichés Jerry Sullivan employs in his asinine piece in which he suggests the Buffalo Sabres desperately need to trade Tim Connolly.  Sullivan says that any talk of the Sabres’ winning is “lip service if they continue to pretend that Connolly can lead a team to the Cup.”


Connolly’s a highly-paid player to be sure; the third-highest paid forward on the team, consuming almost 2/25ths of the Sabres’ cap space – comparable to players like Jordan Staal in Pittsburgh and Johan Franzen in Detroit in terms of where he ranks on the forward pay scale.  In short, Connolly isn’t being paid to lead his team to the Cup; he’s being paid to be part of a capable top-six. 


Sullivan goes further, however, saying that the Sabres “have a young, promising team, but they won’t begin to grow up until Connolly is out of here.”  Why Connolly has such a negative impact on young players, acting as a ceiling on their potential, is left unstated.  But that’s not the limit to Connolly’s negative impact on the team; according to Sullivan “the Sabres became a reflection of Connolly”, a “soft, finesse player with a history of injuries.”


It’s a tack taken all too often in the press and on blogs, and it’s an idiotic tack.  I’m not sure how or why we’ve come to regard hockey players as being so pathetically incapable of being responsible for themselves, but that seems to be where we’re at.  They need leaders and veterans to teach, inspire and show them the way.  Players who might distract must be shunned, and players like Connolly can, by their very presence, destroy the work ethic of young players and keep them from reaching their potential, while at the same time transforming the entire roster to reflect their frailties and weaknesses.


Impressive leadership, especially from a player incapable of leading his team to the Stanley Cup.  It’s a shame he won’t use those powers for good instead of evil.


Sullivan, quite correctly given how dangerous Connolly is, says the Sabres need to trade him immediately, and “they don’t need to get equal value in return.  It’s addition by subtraction.” 


Connolly’s not a perfect player.  He has been hampered by injuries – including a serious foot injury he played through in these playoffs, and a concussion that cost him a season.  He’s also had his share of playoff heroics in the past, although those were cut short when he was knocked unconscious on a hit by Peter Scheafer, the hit that cost him the season I mentioned above.  But he hardly deserves to be picked out as the sole scapegoat on the team, however convenient a one he makes.

Comments (13)

  1. I like how the guy brushes off Connolly coming back from a broken foot, as if that were nothing.

    I know that it’s easy to get a hate up for players. So let me suggest a trade of hate objects:

    O’Sullivan and Moreau for Connolly.

  2. Wow, what a horrendous article, i hate ones like these. Thanks John, for pointing it out.

  3. Kinda like saying that if a player is not a Crosby then you can’t pay him or play him (but they say that about him too) or perhaps Gretzky is a better comparison. Mind you Gretzky never won another cup all on his own either (don’t forget the sacrilege of 99 in a Blues jersey).

    I think most writers get a hate-on for a guy and use their biases to justify their biases. Instead of considering that hockey is a team sport and is won with a team. Always.

  4. There are 30 teams in the NHL. The average career is what, 10-15 seasons. That means most players will never win a cup. Most will never even get to the finals. To says a player who is not on a great team can’t lead them to the promise land because he hasn’t done it after 4 or 5 years of not being on said average to good team is pretty stupid. Sounds like sour grapes from an unhappy fan, littel else. By his logic, Washington should trade Ovechkin for whatever they can get. Addition by subtraction eh.

  5. Wow. Connolly, when healthy, is a legitimate first line center. Those aren’t that easy to come by in this league, just ask the Habs.

    Sure the fact that he has that injury history is a risk for the team – but his contract is reasonable for the nearly ppg production he puts up when he’s there. Besides, contrary to whatever Sullivan may think, the Sabres aren’t overflowing with higher-end talent at the forward position, even less so at center. I wouldn’t be so quick to dismiss Connolly if I were the Sabres.

  6. Tim Connolly also caused the Great Depression, and was the second shooter on the grassy knoll.

  7. “The average career is what, 10-15 seasons.”

    Say who in the what now?

    The average NHL career is 4 years.

  8. If Buffalo really doesn’t want Mr. Connolly, I know the Oilers could really use some dependalbe, skilled, hard-working veterans to help change the culture of the team. And they have plenty of the tiny skilled players that do so well in Buffalo too!

    Seems like a match made in heaven…

  9. If the Sabres don’t want Connolly and plan on giving him away, the Capitals would absolutely love to have him as our 2nd line center. We’ll even throw in Tomas Fleischman too.

  10. connolly is dead weight. along with pommer and stafford. The talent may be there, but they’ve become complacent in bflo and need a change of scenery.

  11. I didn’t read the Jerry Sullivan article…but there is one thing going for Connolly that makes him the popular name for trade talk: only 1 year left on his contract. IF we do trade him it better be for an offensive defensemen like Marc-Andre Bergeron, Joe Corvo, Kris Letang, ect. Because besides Myers NONE of our defensemen (minus Montedor on the rare occasion) are offensive minded.

    As for Connolly as a scapegoat…why not Lindy?? For Christ’s sake Lindy had him playing with Gaustad and Grier for 2 games, and didn’t exactly play a “top 6″ two lines but intertwined his top forwards throughout all 4 lines.

  12. Connolly is no Gretzky but that article is, well; asinine is being kind. Jerry Sullivan is an douchbag.

  13. [...] level of performance. Consider Drew Stafford, one of two players (Tim Connolly is the other; we discussed him here) who appear to have fallen into disfavour in Buffalo and who are rumoured to be on the trade [...]

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