Jimmy Vesey could’ve been a Buffalo Sabre. But ultimately, he chose not to be.
That fact — granted, one lacking a significant amount of detail — is the big reason why Vesey will be met with jeers tonight when he and the New York Rangers take on the Sabres in Buffalo.
Fans at KeyBank will boo, which is to be expected. GM Tim Murray acquired Vesey’s negotiating rights from Nashville in June, hoping to use a near two-month window to try and convince Vesey to sign with his club. But Vesey, fresh off a Hobey Baker win at Harvard, opted instead to test unrestricted free agency rather than ink in Buffalo, and joined the Blueshirts.
For all the angst Sabres supporters might have over what transpired, those within the organization insist there’s no hard feelings.
“I’m not really sure why,” Eichel told the Buffalo News, when asked about the prospect of fans booing Vesey. “He was a free agent. It’s his own decision to make a decision where he wants to play. If any of us were in his situation I’m sure a lot would go into a decision like that. Obviously would have loved to have him in Buffalo but he made a decision and obviously he’s happy with that one.
“Can’t blame a guy for that.”
Buffalo head coach Dan Bylsma pretty much said the same. While he admitted he’d “like to have ill feelings about Jimmy and the situation,” he went on to say he couldn’t. Vesey exercised a practice afforded to him within the NHL’s collective bargaining agreement and, regardless of thoughts and feelings and opinions on the matter, he did play by the rules.
So far, things have worked out pretty well in New York. Vesey has eight goals and 14 points through 24 games, averaging 14:29 TOI while showing an ability to play up and down the lineup (tonight, he projects to skate alongside Kevin Hayes and Rick Nash).
Thursday won’t be the only time Vesey’s going to get razzed, though.
In just over two weeks, the Rangers play their first game of the year in Nashville.