My ode to Ville Leino


We’ve all made about 200 Ville Leino jokes since he’s been a member of the Sabres and I’m not going to make the 201st joke about him. There’s no debate..The dude stunk and he was an awful signing.

It did go beyond the crazy salary he received and the team stinking that endeared him into the pits of our black hearts. Leino wasn’t a top 6 forward, but we paid him to be just that and expected results. It was your classic metaphoric Darcy Regier line of “Tim Connolly and Derek Roy are top 20 centers” based on pay, even though the results said hell to the no.

It wasn’t all Leino’s fault. He shouldn’t have been converted to a center when he got here as that was just an awful experiment from the start. Being coached by three different coaches didn’t help either. He, like a lot of players here, were hindered by the talent around him and was forced up the line chart. On a loaded team like say Chicago, he’d probably do well there on the 3rd or 4th line.

There’s a reason why he played well with the Flyers during the 2010 playoffs. He had #48 on his line and Danny Briere wasn’t walking through those Sabres doors anytime soon to help elevate Leino’s game.

Since I tend to go back in time when it comes to my story arcs coming to a close and this is one of those moments…its pretty embarrassing how much I liked the Leino signing. It was around the apex of Pegulamania and I just wanted the Sabres to spend money.

I acted like a homeless white trash person who just won the lotto and wanted to spend money on anything I got my hands on. The years of being deprived of FA and guys walking out of here was blinding my vision for what was best for business. I just wanted that feeling of the excitement that I could do anything I wanted because the Sabres were rich! Hockey doors were magically going to open because of Terry Pegula’s cash.

For years, I was so envious of other teams spending a ton of money on July 1st while we were signing the Shane Morrrisonns of the world. I didn’t care if it were Ville Leino or John Snow, I was excited for whatever player they invested money into. The past is what ultimately lead me to think irrationally and not care about our spending habits.

If you listened to people in Philly or Detroit, they thought the Sabres were insane for paying that much for Leino. The dude had one decent year and was waived twice before coming here, so, you could easily see their point.

Yet, I didn’t care. I probably said “Danny Briere was waived once, so, you never know!?” How lame. It wasn’t my money and the cap keeps going up, so big deal. I just wanted to be happy that the Sabres spent money in FA.

That line of thinking in professional sports can be a fallacy. I’m not saying the Sabres shouldn’t ever go out in FA and overpay for a guy. Teams in professional sports do that all the time and the results can be good or can be awful.

The lesson is going beyond the happiness of  spending money and being relevant; while seeing the bigger picture on the return of your investment. You gotta see the guy play here before you vote Darcy Regier as GM of the decade.

In the end, Leino shouldn’t detour us for shooting for the stars in Free agency, but it should make us think twice about who that star might be.


About Joe

The Lord of Buffalo Wins