Memories of Armstrong: Colby Bought Out But Not Forgotten

"Don't worry Army, you're going to a nice rink in the country where you can fall over the blueline all day long."

I didn't want Jason to have all of the fun of remembering Colby Armstrong as a player everyone knew was a bad signing without referencing some of his highlights in Toronto. You know things were getting off on the right foot when Armstrong mentioned that he was surprised at how lucrative the deal was that he was offered. At least the Leafs won the negotiation right! I mean, he'll have been paid $8M for 79 games played, 9 goals, 17 assists, and one sucker punch well taken. Incidentally, that game gave us Brett Lebda's -3 rating in a 9-3 win so you can see why someone would be conflicted about Armstrong leaving.

Armstrong also managed to highlight the plight of the athlete whose career can be felt circling the drain as he hid his December concussion from the team until they noticed him vomiting. Rather than do the smart thing and recover from his newest injury Armstrong chose to try to hide it knowing that if he left the lineup again he might not get the opportunity to get back in. It's similar to the story of Ethan Moreau and it's a shame that players are not able to think of their long-term health because of the culture of the game.

That's not to say that Armstrong didn't provide some entertainment. There was the Jim Thome tribute, his epic battles with the city's massive raccoons, his at times rabid defenders, and of course, the legendary Boneitis incident which revealed which people watch Futurama and which would make horrible TV doctors. Boneitis will definitely be Armstrong's lasting legacy in Toronto because he barely did anything else.

So what does this buyout mean? The Leafs will pay Armstrong $2M this year and have $1M count against the cap this coming year and the following. CapGeek shows the Leafs adding $2M in cap space this year which will give the Leafs about $14.8M to flesh out their roster barring any other moves (please make other moves). In terms of those moves, the odds are that on the bottom end the Leafs have the pieces in place to address those needs.

Then again, it may be opening up a roster spot for a less savoury addition:

Oh fuck. What a way to ruin a semi-decent move than by throwing bad money after equally bad money.

There was also some speculation about what it would mean for the Leafs to have used their buyout rather than letting the contract just run out. It may be that the team will not be allowed to stash salary in the minors after the new CBA or that a buyout amnesty won't be part of the negotiations or even that there will be one and Burke's saving that option for Mike Komisarek or Tim Connolly but it's far too early in the process to speculate. More likely this is part of Brian Burke's continued insistence on being the Gentleman GM rather than being the GM that does everything he can to help the Leafs win and reputation/friendships be damned.

One thing that cannot be denied is that Armstrong was a nice guy insofar as we ever have an idea of a player's true personality. The media certainly loved him as they line up to mention what a great guy he was and you can tell because they never laid any blame on him for vastly underperforming on his contract or for breaking his buyout on a holiday weekend via twitter when someone might have had plans with their kids for the 20 minutes it takes to write "Armstrong bought out, Burke has no comment". I don't doubt that he's the kind of player that will find success in a career as an analyst. He certainly can't be as bad as Jamie McLennan. So as a person, I wish him the best. As a Leafs fan, thank God he's gone.

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