Nobody has been more critical of the Rob Niedermayer signing than I have been. Vitriol towards Niedermayer is growing with every loss, but if you look past the fact that he has no goals this year, the last problem on this team is Rob Niedermayer.
Niedermayer didn’t come here to score 20 goals. That’s not the player he has ever been, even in his prime. Sharing a line with Paul Gaustad and Mike Grier, the Sabres thought they’d have a great grinder line to put out against the other team’s top line, and on the penalty kill. I know in Buffalo we think that the grinder line needs someone on it who will go out and drop the gloves every night, but that’s just not the game any more.
Regardless, through all of the criticism, Niedermayer is only a minus-3 on the season, with 12 assists. That’s a minus-3 against the opponent’s best line, night in and night out, because Lord knows what would happen if Tim Connolly had to go into defensive forward mode.
Think about it beyond the zero in the goals column for a second. His job is to not worry about offense. Whatever comes offensively is a bonus. His job is to stifle the other team’s attack. Before the season even starts, he’s in a position where he’s almost certain to be a minus. A minus-3 with 24 games left to play is solid, considering his role.
His linemates for the majority of the season, Gaustad and Grier, are both on the plus side of thngs, and they get more time on the ice than Niedermayer because of special teams. Niedermayer is the easiest scapegoat that there is on the ice (now that Craig Rivet is absent every night). There are teams that would love Niedermayer on their fourth line (I’m looking at you Los Angeles).
Niedermayer’s scratch on Friday night wasn’t some grand statement about his lack of scoring. The guy is 36-years-old and works as hard as anybody on the ice. He needed a night off, and Lindy Ruff thought the speed of Paul Byron would help against the hefty defense of the Blues.
Still, he shouldn’t be here. I don’t think there’s any way to argue otherwise. But that’ not his fault. Stop beating the guy up for it. But I get it, if booing Niedermayer is a de facto way of booing Darcy, do what you have to do!
Darcy Regier should have never brought in Niedermayer…period. A huge part of the job of the GM is to have a complete knowledge, inside and out, of your own organization. The Niedermayer signing is Exhibit A that Regier doesn’t have a complete grasp of the players within his own organization.
Regier alienated the city when he let Tim Kennedy go last summer, and you can’t tell me that Kennedy couldn’t do what Niedermayer is doing right now…and cheaper…and he’d even whille putting a couple of pucks in the net.
Kennedy is having a very good season (12 goals and 18 assists in 51 games) for the Connecticut Whale of the AHL. He should still be in the Buffalo organization, but Darcy’s ego and arrogance won that battle.
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