Saturday, November 30, 2013

Buffalo wins 6th game of the season

Unfortunately (or fortunately if you're looking for a top-2 pick in the 2014 draft) it has taken the team nearly two months and 27 games to achieve that feat.

And two of those wins have come against arch rival Toronto, including the 3-2 OT decision last night.

Matt D'Agostini in his first game as
a Buffalo Sabre.
(photo Bill Wippert, Getty Images)
The Sabres welcomed waiver pickup Matt D'Agostini to the lineup last night and he played a real strong game.

Although he didn't hit the scoresheet he was a plus-1 in 15:39 of ice-time and made a key play with less than a minute to go in the third period.

With the game tied at two and the Sabres on the powerplay, D'Agostini hauled ass on the back-check and flung himself at James van Riemsdyk who was going in all alone on Ryan Miller.

D'Agostini took out van Riemsdyk on the play but the ref who was right on the play ruled that D'Agostini had touched the puck first nullifying any penalty.

After seeing many questionable calls against the team the past few games (at least) Miller was pretty happy that the team finally got a (non) call go their way, "It came around," said Miller. "[D'Agostini] got back hard and he [forced] the ref to make a decision. The ref decided he got the puck."

Miller said that this game may have been the best game the team has played all season. And he's probably right.

After a somewhat slow first period, the Sabres skated like a real hockey team, took checks, dished out checks and maintained composure throughout the game.

Interim coach Ted Nolan had been ticked at the number of penalties the team has had over the course of his short tenure and has been imploring his team to play more disciplined.

The result this game was only one penalty to Henrik Tallinder for a stupid high-stick early in the third period. The Leaves got only one shot on goal during the ensuing power play.

No parade to the box allowed the team to roll their lines and they looked good.

D'Agostini was on a line with Steve Ott and Ville Leino. That line was very strong and it may have been Leino's best game yet.

Zemgus Girgensons was with Tyler Ennis and Luke Adam. That line provided a strong forecheck and ample opportunities for Adam who finally got a goal. He was the recipient of a fortuitous bounce that left him with a gaping net. He blasted it home.

Enforcer John Scott may have finally found himself a home. No, not in the penalty box tending to his knuckles but in front of the net in the offensive zone. And he looked ecstatic.

As soon as the puck was secured in the zone by his teammates, Scott would head to the front of the net. And with some better shots from the point, they may have scored. It looked as if he may have even tipped a shot.

Scott played a real strong game (relatively speaking.) The guy plays hard and he really wants to play. He knows his skill level is what it is and kudos to Nolan for getting the most out of that very limited skill set.

The top-line of Cody Hodgson centering Matt Moulson and Drew Stafford took the brunt of the Leaves checking unit. They worked hard. In fact, for the second game in a row Stafford has been a bull. We've seen him use his body in the past, sporadically, but it would seem as if Nolan's got him finally playing the game the way he can--as a power forward.

Staff logged 22 minutes of ice-time last night and most of it was quality.

As for Moulson, he now has goals in two straight games after going 11 without. As has been mentioned here before, the guy can finish. The Sabres should seriously entertain re-signing him long-term even at an inflated salary.

And finally, Ted Nolan has been doing an outstanding job thus far.

His coaching hasn't translated into wins yet because the team is devoid of depth and talent, as evidenced by scoring no more than one goal in the previous four losses.

The more he gets a feel for individual players, the more he's finding ways to put them in a position to succeed.

The team is getting better and it seems as if they're starting to see light at the end of the tunnel.

Sure, it took them 27 games to win six, but if they keep playing the way they did last night, that win total will increase significantly in less games.


One of areas that Nolan and Director of Hockey Ops, Pat LaFontaine need to direct their attention to is upgrading personnel. And although they might not be able to add sheer talent from outside the organization at this point, they can add players who play a certain style.

D'Agostini appealed to Nolan and LaFontaine because of certain attributes like speed and defensive awareness, both of which were on display last night. And he seems to think the game very well.

After D'Agostini made that defensive play to eliminate van Riemsdyk's opportunity late, he provided the screen that allowed Christian Ehrhoff to win the game off a shot from the point in OT.

In somewhat of a shot at the previous regime, Nolan was asked if it surprised him that D'Agostini made those plays, "You know," he said, "players that come from the St. Louis' and Pittsburgh's (both teams that D'Agostini played for, most recently Pittsburgh) know how to play the game right."

Little by little, one by one, the Sabres are starting to "play the game right."

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

News and notes

Terry Pegula bought the Buffalo Sabres from Tom Golisano for roughly $180m back in February, 2011.

Every year Forbes magazine comes out with it's NHL franchise valuations.

Last year the Buffalo Sabres franchise was #22 on Forbes list with an estimated value of  $175m or basically what the new owner had paid for them. Interesting to note that the Toronto Maple Leaves became the first NHL franchise to be valued at $1B that year. (for more info and a link to the 2012 Forbes piece, click here.)

Well, the boys and girls at Forbes are at it again and this year the Sabres came in...22nd once again.


This time the estimated value of the Buffalo Sabres has grown to $250m, or a 43% year-over-year increase in valuation. (for a breakdown click here.)

Said the magazine about the Sabres, "The Sabres failure to make the playoffs for the second consecutive season did not stop owner Terrence Pegula—who bought the team in early 2011—from jacking up ticket prices. Following the 2011-12 season, the Sabres increased non-premium seat prices by 26% and instituted a 4% price hike before the 2013-14 season. To be fair, the Sabres are still in the bottom half of the NHL in average ticket price. Pegula is also financing a multimillion dollar renovation to all 80 suites at First Niagara Center."

Good for Pegula. 

The old adage is "you need to spend money to make money," and there's no question he's spent some money.

Let's hope that he takes heart to another old adage, "it's not what you spend, but how you spend it." (See Leino contract.)


Mikail Grigorenko approaches Nolan and LaFontaine

Director of Hockey Ops Pat LaFontaine and his interim head coach Ted Nolan have been in charge for five games and the team's record is 1-4. After winning the first one against Toronto, they're back to their losing ways having scored a grand total of five goals during their four-game losing streak.

As shown above, the financial side of the organization is doing well as they've just added 43% to the team's valuation but getting the on-ice product up to snuff is a monumental task for LaFontaine having just been handed a shit sandwich.

Nolan is in charge of evaluating the players and soon the chaff will be separated from the wheat.

This process just went full gear as the team sent three youngin's to their respective leagues:  Nikita Zadorov went to his junior team while Rasmus Ristoalinen and Johan Larsson were sent to Rochester.

A fourth, Mikhail Grigorenko, was slated for a "conditioning assignment" to Rochester but the NHL rejected it.

Grigorenko is too good for junior and has had trouble adjusting to the NHL game. Unfortunately because of an agreement between the NHL and Canadian Juniors, at 19 years of age, Grigorenko is not allowed to be on an AHL team.

So he was stuck.

Grigorenko had fallen out of favor with the previous regime and had seen spotty ice-time hovering around the 10 mins/game mark. He had a two goal game in Anaheim, then played 9:33 in the Sabres SO win in Los Angeles.

When the new regime took over, he was parked on the bench, then designated for the "conditioning assignment" then found himself on the bench once again when the NHL nixed that.

Finally he'd had enough and approached LaFontaine and Nolan saying, "You never saw me play."

And he was right.

He was rewarded with a regular shift with two young players, Zemgus Girgensons and Luke Adam.

Although they haven't hit the scoresheet, Nolan likes what he's seen of Grigorenko during those two games, "So I like what I saw," said the interim coach, "and we’ll continue to evaluate.”

"Since we put him with Girgensons and Adam, they seem to be age group where they feel comfortable with one another. So I like what I saw, and we’ll continue to evaluate.”

“He’s competing. He’s trying,” Nolan said. “As long as you compete and you try, you got to like it.”

From this layman's eyes, "Grigo" seems to be improving and his confidence is growing. Although his skating needs a lot of work, one cannot deny his skill-level.


Sabres prospects are doing quite well thus far

WGR is sporadic in it's coverage of the youngins, but Howard Simon came up with a pretty good article about a pretty good draft class--2013--that's off to a rukus start this season.

Rightfully so, Simon credits Kris Baker and when the GR jock goes "Inside the numbers" for a look into the 2013 draft class.

He points to JT Compher, a freshman at Michigan, as having a real good start to his college career:  2g, 6a in 10 games including a shorty.

Compher's compete-level is way up there and he has the skills to go along with it. He was taken 35th overall with the pick that Carolina gave up in the Andrej Sekera trade.

But there are two picks who are of to flying starts.

One of them, seventh rounder Eric Locke has eight goals and 22 points in 15 games. Locke was mentioned by Baker as someone to watch.

The other is Nicholas Baptise, picked 69th overall.

Baptiste is on a tear with 17 goals and 13 assists in 23 games.

Baker, who does a weekly prospect report for, just did a piece on Baptiste and his drive to make Canada's World Junior team, and put together a video of all Baptiste's shifts during a tilt with Russia in the Subway Super Series.

Both Locke and Baptiste lead all the Sabres prospects in points/game (for a full list of stats, visit Baker's prospect stat page.)


And finally...

The Sabres wore their third jersey's for the first time this season and they didn't look bad.

Brian Stubits of cbssportsline, uses "Turd" jersey to open his piece on the debut of the Sabres rather confusing jersey.

There's way too much going on with different colors on the front and back as well as an introduction of gray to the color scheme.

But one thing I did come away with was the Buffalo in the crest. With it being white, it glowed.

A little light in the midst of a pretty dark season thus far.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

The Buffalo Sabres (snicker, snicker) to unveil their third jerseys today

If their 5-18-1 record wasn't bad enough, the Sabres hit the ice today at 5pm in their new third jerseys: 

The general consensus?  Awful.

But, that goes with the general theme of the way things have gone for the team this season:
  • Their awful record has them at the bottom of the league with 11 points
  • Their coaching was awful, Ron Rolston was fired
  • Ryan Miller's record is awful, 4-13-0
  • They have no player above zero in the plus/minus column, which is awful
  • 19 yr. old forward Mikhail Grigorenko is in no man's land
  • Their farm team, the Rochester Americans, just dropped two to one of the worst teams in the league
  • They interviewed a GM candidate, Jim Benning, who had an awful drafting record as Sabres Head Amateur Scout
  • Having to write about this team and this season is awful, it's barely worth it save for posterity
And so it goes.

Can you imagine Steve Ott stepping on the ice whit that sweater, and having the "C" sewn on it, facing a Detroit team with a classic winged-wheel on theirs? Can you imagine the barbs that will be tossed the Sabres' way?

That's just plain cruel.

At some point in time, history will reveal a bottoming out point. I'm not sure if it will be anytime soon or even if it will come this season, but it will come.


Owner Terry Pegula and his new Director of Hockey Ops, Pat LaFontaine will see to it. They don't seem as if they'll stand around and fiddle while Rome burns. They both have a competitive fire in them. And so does interim head coach Ted Nolan.

Right now they're searching. Searching for a proper foundation of veterans with which to rebuild upon.

The Sabres have sent down an number of rookies, including a couple of teenagers, to get them some playing time and to keep them away from the blood-letting that's to come. Said Nolan, "We’ve got a lot of young talent here, and we’ve got to make sure they mature at the right pace.

It's all on the vets shoulders right now, no excuses, and the Sabres brass are of the mind-set that it's either sink or swim for the guys on the ice.

This evening's contest with the Detroit Red Wings provides a "golden" opportunity for a reprieve from the torment that is Buffalo Sabres hockey. Then again, Detroit is 10-1-1 in their last 12 vs. Buffalo.

Overall, the Red Wings are 10-7-7 this season but are on a slide having gone 2-3-5 in their last ten games, and according to Jon Vogl of the Buffalo News they will be without Pavel Datsyuk which doesn't help them (although it will be offset by the return of Sabre-killer Daniel Alfredsson.)

Also, according to Vogl, they will be without Todd "Big Bert" Bertuzzi while defenseman Danny DeKeyser is still out with a shoulder injury.

Detroit is 11th in the conference in goal differential (-9) and 22nd in the league in plus/minus (-8) which is very un-Redwing like.

Add it all up and the Sabres have an opportunity to pull one out this evening having to pull on those ugly sweaters.

But, then again...they may not have hit rock bottom yet.

Friday, November 22, 2013

The party's over in Buffalo

It only took interim head coach Ted Nolan four games to witness what most Sabres fans have been witnessing for four years:  There are too many veteran players who've had it too easy and have been taking things for granted.

The legacy of former GM Darcy Regier's "core" is that of mediocrity and a laissez-faire attitude. Former coach Lindy Ruff somehow managed to get the most out of a core group consisting of mostly prima donna's.

But Nolan has seen enough.

“The gloves are officially off,” he said after last night's 4-1 loss at Philadelphia. "We have to change some things, and the players are either going to do it or it’s going to be a very, very long year. And they might not be here.”

Bill Hoppe of the Olean Times Herald believes that Nolan just threw a shot across the bow of the SS Slacker saying that "Nolan's strong words mean the Sabres will start making moves."

"Bet on it," he concludes, "In the next week or so, the hapless Buffalo Sabres will trade or waive at least one underachieving veteran."

And it's about time.

Only one "core" player remains from the group team president Ted Black dubbed, "The Rochester Guys." And that's goalie Ryan Miller.

Miller is the only one left standing because he's the only one who brought, and still brings, compete every game.

Unfortunately, he'll probably be traded by the trade deadline. And he probably should be. For his own sake and for his willingness to ride this sinking ship until management throws him a lifeboat.

The group that followed "the core" has really picked up some bad habits and it would seem as if that's the group that Nolan is directing his consternation at.

That grouping is lead by Drew Stafford, one year short of a "Rochester Guy" and Ville Leino, a player who represents the perils of free agency.

Although Stafford is about as inconsistent as they come, he does show signs of life and has actually put up goals and points during his career in Buffalo. He will become an unrestricted free agent at the end of next season and could probably fetch something at the 2015 trade deadline.

Leino, on the other hand, just simply isn't doing it.

Hoppe points out that he has a mere two points in 11 games, has six shots all season and was dropped all the way down to the fourth line. "Leino," writes Hoppe, "is untradeable given his six-year, $27 million contract. He’s almost certainly getting bought out this offseason. Perhaps the Sabres will just cut their losses now."

Not only does Nolan have a problem with inconsistencies and slacking, he also has a problem with stupidity, as in dumb penalties.

Last night they had seven minor penalties and Nolan was none too thrilled with that, “Penalties are going to stop (or) people who are doing it are not going to be in the lineup. It’s plain and simple as that.”

Leino had a dumb slashing penalty last night. Myers was called for cross-checking a Flyer by the Sabres net (a weak call at best) and he was whistled for tripping Brayden Schenn.

Both Cody McCormick and Henrik Tallinder shot the puck over the glass in the first period, while Cody Hodgson and Mike Weber were called for holding and tripping, respectively.

Nolan should slap his own hand as well. While short-handed the Sabres were whistled for too many men on the ice.

All of this has been going on for years and it was quite the party whilst momma Regier was in charge.

But the party's over.

If Nolan is true to his words, chips will be flying as veterans who've had it too good for too long get the axe.

And that's a good thing.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Two possible GM candidates for Buffalo who haven't gotten much (if any) press

For obvious reasons, two assistant GM's with ties to Buffalo are at the forefront of the Sabres quest for a General Manager.

Jason Botterill is a 37 yr. old assistant GM in Pittsburgh and has his name on the Stanley Cup. Botterill is a former first-round pick (#20 overall, Dallas, 1994) and played in 88 NHL games including 36 games for the Sabres between 2002-2004.

His forte' is cap management and, according to Amy Moritz of the Buffalo News, player development.

Jim Benning was hired away from the Sabres by Boston in 2006 after spending 12 years in the Sabres amateur scouting department--the last eight as director of amateur scouting.

Benning was responsible for input into the drafting of former GM Darcy Regier's core from 1998-2006.

The suave' Rick Dudley
during his playing days.

Another GM candidate who's name has been thrown around left and right is Montreal AGM, Rick Dudley. "Duds" was drafted by the Sabres and played in 279 games in six seasons for Buffalo.

He also coached the Sabres from 1989-1991 compiling a 85-72-31 record in 168 games. His teams made the playoffs in both his full seasons, getting bounced in the first round each time.

Duds has an impressive resume' as an executive including helping a turnaround in Ottawa for the 1998-99 season. He was also the driving force behind the building of two Stanley Cup Champions:  Tampa Bay, 2003 and Chicago, 2010.

Two other names who may be on Director Pat LaFontaine's radar are Toronto AGM Claude Loiselle and Philadelphia AGM, Ron Hextall.

Loiselle started his career as a scout for Anaheim before taking an AGM position in 2010 with the Maple Leaves under former GM Brian Burke.

He was a pretty tough customer during his 13 years as an NHL player, including two-handing Philadelphia's Bobby Clarke. He's also said to be a tough contract negotiator.

For more on him, click here.

Ron Hextall was one of the toughest competitors in the NHL. He played 13 seasons in the league winning the Vezina in his rookie year (1986-87) and winning the Conn Smythe that same year for a Flyers team that lost in seven games to the Edmonton Oilers in the Finals.

Hextall was also the first goaltender to score a goal into an empty net and the first one to do so in the playoffs as well.

He was an sonofabitch in net as well collecting over 100 penalty minutes in each of his first three seasons.

In 2006 he was named Vice President and Assistant GM in Los Angeles. He has his name engraved on the Cup for the 2012 Los Angeles Kings.

Hextall is presently Assistant GM/Director of Hockey Ops in Philadelphia under GM Paul Holmgren.

Upon hearing the news that the Buffalo Sabres had cleaned house and were in the market for a GM, Hextall was approached by Rob Parent of the Delaware County Daily Times about the opening.

Hextall was quoted as saying that he's 'at peace right now with where he's at,' but also revealed that he still has a fire deep down to be a GM.

'I still want to be a general manager,' he said. 'I’ll say that until I either become one or I decide that the dream’s over.'

Parent brought up the open GM position in Buffalo saying "it might be the job of choice for an assistant GM with a championship resume'."

To which Hextall replied, 'I really haven’t given it any thought. I have no plans yet to go anywhere else. If anybody calls I’ll look at it and talk to Homer.'

Hextall has worked his way up the ranks since retiring from hockey in 1999. He started scouting for Philadelphia that same year and was named Director of Professional Player Personnel three years later before moving to Los Angeles in 2006.

Hextall, Loiselle and Dudley all played the game with a serious edge. And if the Sabres heirarchy truly want a team that is "tougher to play against," and if a team is said to be a mirror image of their GM, than one of these three is the answer.

And with interim coach Ted Nolan weilding the wrecking ball on Regier's 16 year experiment, one of those three will probably fit right in with the plan LaFontaine has.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Does Buffalo really want Jim Benning as GM?

Former Sabres Director of Amateur Scouting, Jim Benning, will be interviewing with Pat LaFontaine for the GM opening in Buffalo. He was granted permission by the Boston Bruins, his present employer.

Benning has been with the Bruins since the July 2006 when he was hired as director of player personnel. One year later he was named Assistant GM under Peter Chiarelli.

Before that, Benning was with the Sabres organization for 12 seasons. From 1994-1998 he was a scout for the club. The final eight seasons he was Buffalo's head scout under former GM Darcy Regier.

While Regier was busy dismantling "the hardest working team in hockey," Benning was the voice in Regier's ear concerning the drafting of the players that were to form "the core"--Regier's "vaunted" group of players that folded after the new-NHL went away.

From 1999-2006 Benning was responsible for some gems outside the first round and into the latter rounds like Ryan Miller (#138) in 1999, Derek Roy (#32) and Jason Pominville (#55) in 2001, Dennis Wideman (#241) in 2002 and Andrej Sekera (#72) in 2004.

All of those players, core players, save for Miller are gone. And Miller looks to be on the way out as well.

The Sabres are headed into the next two drafts with a bevy of first and second-rounders (trading Miller and/or Matt Moulson and/or any other player will probably add to that total.)

As head scout for Regier, Benning was responsible for guiding the Sabres draft. Here's a list of players selected in the first two rounds for Buffalo under Benning's stewardship:
  • 1999--Barret Heitsen (#20,) Milan Bartovic (#35,) Doug Janik (#55,) Mike Zigomanis (#64)
  • 2000--Artem Kryukov (#15,) Girard Dicaire (#48)
  • 2001--Jiri Novotny (#22,) Roy, Chris Thorburn (#50,) Pominville
  • 2002--Keith Ballard (#11,) Daniel Paille (#20)
  • 2003--Thomas Vanek (#5,) Branislav Fabry (#65)
  • 2004--Drew Stafford (#13,) Michael Funk (#43)
  • 2005--Marek Zagrapan (#13,) Phillip Gogula (#48)
  • 2006--Dennis Persson (#24,) Jonas Enroth (#46,) Mike Weber (#57)

Of that group only Stafford, Enroth and Weber remain.

If you were wondering why the Sabres are 5-17-1 right now and in full rebuild mode, take a look at that group.

The core that former GM Darcy Regier and his head amateur scout Jim Benning built is gone after years of vanilla, middling play.

So, just to get this straight, the departed GM Regier, brainchild of "the core," leaves the Sabres with a ton of draft picks for that failed group, and now they're interviewing the guy responsible for the amateur draft legwork to possibly rebuild the team?

I don't get it.

Tallinder and Weber should be thanking their lucky stars as the Sabres send four youngins down

With defenseman Mike Weber coming back from injury, the Buffalo Sabres needed to make a roster move.

Which they did. In fact they made four moves sending 18 yr. old defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen to Rochester along with 21 yr. old forward Johan Larsson.

Joining those two in Rochester will be 19 yr. old forward Mikhail Grigorenko, who is allowed to play in the minors on a 14-day conditioning stint. Afterwards he will either be with Buffalo or will be headed back to junior.

18 yr. old defenseman Nikita Zadorov was sent to his junior club, the London Knights, and it is assumed that he will be there for the rest of the season. London will be hosting the Memorial Cup this season and will be getting an automatic bid to the tournament.

New bench-boss Ted Nolan had mentioned that the team was alot younger than he thought and hinted that some changes would be made.

He also mentioned that there are some players in Rochester who's play has earned them a call-up. Although no names were mentioned, forward Luke Adam is tied for the AHL with 13 goals and defenseman Brayden McNabb has been playing a solid all-around game while rediscovering his grit.

The moves sure did make some vets happy.

Henrik Tallinder, who was benched in New Jersey last season before big-daddy Darcy Regier rescued him via tradel, thought that the youngsters had it a bit too easy making the Sabres, "It’s not about getting the spot; it’s about earning the spot,” he said.

Ole' Hank is a former 2nd round pick of the Buffalo Sabres (#48, 1997) who happened to be developing (1 yr. in Rochester) while Regier was dismantling "the hardest working team in hockey," a team that was coached at one time by Nolan.

His game has been in decline ever since the 2009/10 season, which happens to coincide with the decline of the hands-off, "new-NHL."

Tallinder is still a non-hitter (read:  wuss,) is slow and at times flops around like a rookie out there.

He's lucky he's a vet. Ristolainen has similar attributes as Tallinder, but also adds a serious edge to his game. Risto has played at least as well as Hank, and were they contemporaries, Tallinder would've been waived, given the choice.

Veteran defenseman Mike Weber has been nothing short of a train wreck this season. About the only thing that saved him from having a worse plus/minus rating than his present minus-12 (third-worst in the league) is the fact that he's been injured and has missed half of the Sabres 22 games.

"You got to develop in the minors," said Weber, "You got to play junior. You got to earn the right to be here."

Yeah, I guess if you're Mike Weber you needed to.

Yet, most Sabres fans can handle an 18 yr. old Zadorov, his one goal and minus-4 rating in seven games, learning the NHL game.

He likes to hit, just like Weber.

Tallinder and Weber are lucky they're on a crappy team with so much youth, otherwise their play would've gotten them waived by now.

Nolan, though, put it all in perspective. The Sabres have always been known as a team that will take their time developing players, and it would seem as if the new regime featuring Pat LaFontaine as Director of Hockey Ops wants to get back to that.

"Whether I saw them or not," said Nolan, "I don’t think it really made much of a difference. We look at where we are with this organization and where we have to go to, and proper development is so important.”

Tallinder and Weber should be thanking their lucky stars.

Thanks to Bill Hoppe for his article

Sunday, November 17, 2013

The Sabres should continue doing what they've been doing the past two games...

worry about competing and playing hockey.

The Toronto Maple Leaves have their pugnacity and truculence, as well as a number of pugilists who will drop the gloves. They also have a pack mentality and won't hesitate to jump an opposing player as a third man in.
Buffalo Sabres enforcer John Scott gets jumped from behind
by Leaves tough-guy Frazer McLaren. Scott was assessed
14 mins in penalties and was cofused as to why.
(photo from Associated Press)

Good for them. As thug-like as they may be, they're a bit of old-school, and it serves them well. Last season
that identity lead them to the playoffs for the first time in nine years.

The Buffalo Sabres are struggling and in the midst of an ugly transition period. They lack the overall skill to compete with the better clubs, but they do have some overall grit and character to at least hold their own in an alley brawl.

In fact they stand up to Toronto pretty well and only get into trouble when two or more Leaves jump them (see video below, 4:35-mark,) which has happened in two of the last three meetings between the fierce rivals. (click here for access to the September line brawl.)

As much as the Sabres are fighting for respect, both literally and figuratively, having a "Gangs of New York" brawl doesn't do much for a struggling Buffalo team. And as much as this Sabres fan would love to see one-on-one fisticuffs between the teams' pugilists, the Sabres have other pressing problems right now.

New head coach Ted Nolan had a message for his troops when he took over as interim coach. He wants them to focus upon competing and playing hockey. That's what he directed enforcer John Scott to do. That's why Patrick Kaleta is still in Rochester.

And as for Toronto and Buffalo engaging in a line brawl over the weekend? Nolan instructed Scott to back off from any staged confrontation, especially with the Leaves heavyweights Colton Orr or Frazer McLaren (or even if the Leaves "Princess Phaneuf" [snicker, snicker] tries to ignite a brawl.)

There will come a time when the Sabres will engage in a street brawl with the Leaves, but not right now. An individual bout here and there like Sabres captain Steve Ott landing a couple of haymakers to the face of David Clarkson or John "Gulliver" Scott getting jumped by a group of Lilliputians in blue and white sweaters will have to do.

(video from Fred Murtz)

The Sabres came away with a split in the home-and-home vs. the Leaves this weekend, playing some pretty good hockey in the process.

Their 3-1 victory at home was an inspiring game in Nolan's return to the bench in Buffalo for the first time in 16 years. And it should have been.

Last night the team fell into their usual rut to start the game and found themselves in a 3-0 hole headed into the third period. A valiant effort brought them to within a goal but a late penalty and late powerplay goal by Toronto's Mason Raymond with just over a minute to play sealed their fate.

The Buffalo Sabres have proven that they're willing to stand up to anybody as evidenced by their leading the league in fights.

But their 5-16-1 record, 11 total pts. and last place standing in the league indicate that they have much more pressing problems than worrying about getting jumped by the Leaves.

They'll be able to take care of that later.

Thanks to Maple Leafs Online for the above video

Friday, November 15, 2013

The Hockey News' Ken Campbell is misguided

Two days ago Sabres owner Terry Pegula dropped a bomb on the hockey world by firing long-time GM Darcy Regier and his head coach Ron Rolston. Pegula hired Sabre-legend Pat LaFontaine as Director of Hockey Operations and LaFontaine dropped his own bomb by hiring former Sabres coach, and 1997 Jack Adams Award winner, Ted Nolan to straighten things out on the ice.

Everyone has an opinion on the matter. Hell, even ESPN gave some airtime to the firing.

The troublesome part about everyone's opinion is that some of them can be asinine and/or seriously misguided.

The basic facts were in place:  Regier served as GM in Buffalo for over 16 years, the team was rebuilding, the team was a mess, etc.

Pegula, an owner with the financial wherewithal to spend money like the Toronto Maple Leaves, Philadelphia Flyers and NY Rangers, had freed Regier of the financial shackles from the previous regime and was rewarded with a $27m Ville Leino contract.

Those are the facts, and anyone from posters on rumor sites to the best hockey writers in North America have those facts out front of them. But it's the surrounding grey areas where the writer uses their knowledge to grasp the situation and consequently offer their opinion on it.

In the case of the Buffalo Sabres and their short history under Pegula, probably the most egregious misinterpretation of what's going on, and what has been going on in Buffalo, comes from The Hockey News' Ken Campbell.

Being Canada's "hockey publication," The Hockey News is required to opine on everything hockey related. The writers for the publication, of course, are looked upon for their "expert" analysis of every hockey situation, no matter how far removed from the matter they might be.

Toronto is only a stone's throw away from Buffalo, but Campbell may as well be in Edmonton when he says that Pegula has done more harm on the ice than good.

On the surface, Campbell has a point and his overall premise is sound:  Pegula took over a team that made the playoffs as a 7th seed and took the Flyers to seven games in the first round before bowing out. Since then, the team has taken a nose-dive to the bottom of the standings.

Those are simple facts.

He's also correct in pointing out that throwing money around doesn't necessarily equate to a Stanley Cup.

Pegula allowed Regier to waste a ton of money on the aforementioned contract of Leino as well as toss some serious cash to Christian Ehrhoff and Tyler Myers. Campbell would be correct to varying degrees concerning those contracts. But for Buffalo fans who were accustomed to tight spending ever since the Rigas' were busted for embezzlement, it was a lot of fun watching the Sabres trade for the rights to Ehrhoff then signing him long-term without financial worry.

It was also refreshing to see them sign Myers to a long-term contract early-on instead of wondering whether or not the former Calder-winner would be headed out the door as soon as he became unrestricted. It was unusual for Buffalo to target a player that early and dub him a core player.

Those were two clear-cut departures from the previous regime and regardless of outcome, both were seemed like pretty solid moves at the time. They just haven't worked out as planned. Yet.

As for the Leino contract? That was just plain bad.

But, for Campbell to say that "those moves have crippled the Sabres" to the point where they needed to trade Jason Pominville because of future cap problems is far removed from the truth.

Those contracts have nothing to do with the trading away of Pominville or (eventually) Thomas Vanek for that matter. Nor will they affect the future of impending UFA Ryan Miller.

Those moves have nothing to do with a "downward spiral that has resulted in the Sabres having to tear down and rebuild" either.

The tear-down and rebuild was already in motion prior to the Pominville trade. Piece by piece, Regier's core was being dismantled and a full-fledged rebuild was necessary not because of financial considerations, but because the core that Regier built was stuck in the middle--an average team that as constructed, was too good to finish at the bottom of the league but not good enough to even sniff the Stanley Cup.

They did have individual talent, but on the whole were a vanilla team that lacked an identity.

Regier's core did not have the talent to skate with the likes of Pittsburgh and Chicago, nor did they have the grit and toughness to overcome Philly and Boston, nor did they have the defensive prowess to be able to handle a puck-possession team like Detroit.

They lacked intestinal fortitude, clutch scoring and an internal fire and desire to compete on a regular basis.

It needed to be dismantled, not because they couldn't afford the key players, but because those key players just weren't getting the job done, nor did it look like they'd be able to get it done in the future.

Pegula's spending really didn't hurt the team on the ice, rather the Sabres were done in lagely by poor drafting for a big chunk of the years surrounding the 2004 lockout.

Take out the easy pick, Vanek, from one of the greatest draft classes of all time, 2003, and you have mostly bad to slightly above-average first round picks from 2000 to 2006--picks that would be in various stages of their prime right now had they worked out.

For a small market team, having that many misses in the first round was the kiss of death.

There has been plenty of talk at the foot of Washington St. concerning building through the draft. Pegula and his charges are now fully committed to building a foundation homegrown players.

All the free-spending, including the locker room, is merely cosmetic stuff.

What was lost in Pegula's first presser and his free-spending summer of 2011, was when he said that "there's no NHL salary cap on scouting budgets and player development budgets" and how he planned on increasing both.

Underneath the surface is a dedication to rebuilding their scouting staff and a commitment to player development. The years of the "Video-scout 3000" scouting department are gone. According to Sabres President Ted Black, they have over 25 scouts out there now including an increased presence overseas.

"Mr. Moneybags" has also allowed AGM/Director of Amateur Scouting Kevin Devine to hold their own Sabres Combine to get an up-close look at draft prospects. And he is also footing the bill for an annual trip to the Traverse City Tournament.

The buzzphrase at the LaFontaine/Nolan presser two days ago was "changing the culture."

LaFontaine will be heading a hockey department and building a team based upon another Pegula directive, "I want not only statistically good players, but winners, gritty players," he said. It's another nugget from Pegula's initial press conference got lost amidst the talk of drilling oil wells and "the reason for the existence of the Sabres," etc.

And for Sabres fans who have been watching Regier's core game-in, game-out, that statement meant "anti-core."

One must remember that Pegula's introduction to hockey was back in the mid-70's, first with the Broad Street Bullies, going as far to say that it was their style that got him into hockey in the first place. He then fell in love with "The French Connection."

The core that Regier built was neither, yet somehow he convinced Pegula that with a little tweaking and some free agents, the team he built could compete for the Stanley Cup.

Regier failed, and his team is being dismantled right down to the very foundations of the organization.

This is a true and complete rebuild that had very little to do with finances, Mr. Campbell, and more to do with culture, more specifically the changing of a culture that has been instilled for 16 yrs.

Once the Sabres have built a foundation through the draft it will be time to start spending Pegula's money on players again.

Can't wait.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

The Regier era ends and the LaFontaine era begins

In a back-to-the-future move, the Buffalo Sabres announced yesterday that long-time Sabres GM Darcy Regier has been fired and former Sabre-great Pat LaFontaine has been named Director of Hockey Operations.

In addition, Sabres head coach Ron Rolston has been fired and replaced by former Sabres coach, and 1997 Jack Adams Award winner, Ted Nolan.

Back to 1996.

It was a major shock to the collective system of Buffalo sports fans. The shocking part wasn't that Regier and Rolston were fired, considering the performance of the team and the overall toxic atmosphere permeating Washington St., the shocking part is that it actually happened.

Regier has had more lives in his 17 or so years than Felix the Cat, and has gotten away with countless faux pas'. But just when it looked as if he'd finally get shown the door, he'd either pull off a "hockey genius" type of move or ownership would change.

Unlike most franchises in major sports, Regier was a constant through four different owners. Instead of one owner going through four GM's over a 17 yr. period, Regier the GM lasted through four owners.

And so it goes.

The future is finally now and Sabres owner Pegula couldn't have done better with the hiring of LaFontaine, who is a legend in Buffalo.

During yesterday's presser, LaFontaine seemed confident and at ease with what was before him. He knew what was happening, and seems to have a firm grasp as to what needs to be done.

Whether it was a PR move or genuine hockey move--or a likely combination of both--the fan base stood on it's ear with the hiring.

And if that wasn't enough, LaFontaine's first move was to hire his former Sabres coach in Nolan.

Nolan had come full circle sitting at the press table, in effect taking the place of Regier who had sat there 17 years earlier announcing that Nolan had been relieved of his duties.

Ted Nolan and Pat LaFontaine--
Grit and skill.
It was all taken in stride as the former coach, clearly still somewhat embittered, bit his tongue and kept it positive even going as far to say that if what had preceded hadn't happened, he wouldn't be sitting there right now.

Nolan was also overtaken by emotions at times, seemingly overwhelmed with his place at the table, almost like a prodigal son. He was humbled and sincere and extremely grateful that he got the call from LaFontaine to become Buffalo's interim coach--"interim" being the operative word.

It was a good move for the new Director of Hockey Ops. Nolan will be in charge of weeding out the slackers while instilling discipline and a sense of compete. And maybe most important, as mentioned by former Sabres captain Michael Peca, his hiring energized the fan-base.

In addition to Nolan, LaFontaine laid out a few other organizational things at the presser.

First, he said flat-out that he's not a GM. The search for a new one is on, and until then he will be working with Assistant GM Kevin Devine with personnel in Buffalo, Rochester and next year's draft..

He also made it clear that Nolan is the interim coach of the Sabres and that a new GM will pick his coach.

The Buffalo Sabres
retired Pat LaFontaine's
number 16 in
March, 2006

Assistant coaches Joe Sacco, Teppo Numminen and Jerry Forton will be retained as well as goalie coach, Jim Corsi.

The most pressing issue right now is Nolan and his coaching staff getting getting "the ship righted."
LaFontaine hired Nolan to change the culture of the team. Right now it's in disarray and one of the biggest problems is vets packing it in and having an adverse impact on the youngins.

It's a bad environment and the new regime is placing a heavy emphasis on compete with Nolan saying you either skate hard or hit the road.

Having LaFontaine and Nolan center stage was a strange sight not only for the flashback effect but also for the divergence in styles and what each bring to the organization.

LaFontaine was an immensely skilled player and a prolific scorer who could score or set up. He was a part of that early 90's fast skating/high-scoring Sabres team that saw his linemate, Alexander Mogilny, score 76 goals in a season. LaFontaine's a hockey Hall of Famer, and has his number 16 in the rafters at the F'N Center.

Nolan, on the other hand, is the champion of hard workers, the grunts so to speak. He coached in the NHL's "trap era" and oversaw a Sabres team known as "the hardest working team in hockey." It should be noted that Regier had dismantled that team beginning with the firing of Nolan.

If this harmonic convergence takes hold and grows, it could be a home run for Buffalo. When putting those two styles together I think of Mark Messier, Brendan Shanahan, Owen Nolan and John LeClair, very talented yet extremely hard-working players who could make a difference in a number of ways.

While talking about his previous tenure and the timbre of his players, Nolan pointed out that players like LaFontaine, Matthew Barnaby, Rob Ray and Brad May had "a certain element, a certain mystique" about them. As he learns more about the players that he inherited, he'll be looking for those qualities in them to build a championship team.

It's a mind-blowingly fresh start for the Buffalo Sabres, even with the team going back to the future.

Let the LaFontaine era begin.|BUF|home

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Edmonton Oil and Water. The Yakupov saga

During the 2011-12 season, fans of teams stuck at the bottom of the league during the stretch-run had a great slogan for the drive to the #1 overall draft pick:  "Fail For Nail."

That "Nail" would be Nail Yakupov, consensus #1 overall pick in the 2012 draft.

The Edmonton Oilers kept their streak alive by winning the rights to the first pick in the draft for the third consecutive year. They picked Yakupov.

Yakupov was a good pick. In his rookie season he had 17 goals and 31 points in 48 games. Unfortunately, it hasn't carried over to this season.

Head coach Ralph Krueger was replaced in the off season by former Toronto Marlies bench boss, Dallas Eakins and apparently, it hasn't worked out too well for Yakupov.

This season, in 17 games, Yakupov has a mere two goals and two assists. But the alarming part, especially in Eakins "two-way" oriented system, is his minus-14 plus/minus rating. That was enough for him to get a couple of games as a healthy scratch, diminished powerplay time and a demotion to the bottom-six with some time on the fourth line.

Yakupov should never be confused with Henrik Zetterberg because a two-way game is not his forte'. He's a gamebreaker, a quicker, yet smaller version of Alexander Ovechkin.

Ovechkin, by the way, was stymied in Washington when head coach Dale Hunter, another two-way oriented coach, took over the reigns of the Capitals in November of 2011. Hunter would step down at the end of the season giving way to present coach Adam Oates. Ovechkin was a perennial top-five scorer before Hunter. That season he finished 37th in the league in scoring.

Last year under Oates "The Great 8" took his rightful spot near the top of the league finishing third in scoring. Presently Ovechkin sits sixth in the league with 14 goals and 21 points in 17 games. The Capitals are second in the Metropolitan Division.

With that as a backdrop, it's no wonder that Yakupov's agent, Igor Larionov, is reportedly headed to Edmonton.

According to Craig Custance, via the Edmonton Journal, Larionov wants to discuss how Yakupov is being used.  And, if Edmonton is unhappy with Yakupov, Custance quotes Larionov as saying "We’re willing to make a move. Any team. That happens and that’s part of life.”

Rumors of a disconnect have been swirling around ever since Yakupov was scratched early in the season on October 12. In the four games prior, he was pointless and was a minus-3. Said Eakins of Yakupov's play before he scratched him, "He hasn’t been up to speed. I think he’ll tell you the same thing."

Well, not quite.

Two days later, a frustrated, defiant Yakupov had this to say, "I wasn’t happy about [the scratch] last night. You can say a million words about getting better but coach says I’m not playing, so I’m not playing."

And why was he not playing? Said Eakins, “The kids’ passion is to score and he was just going to take it all on himself to do that. I don’t care how good you are, you can’t produce by yourself in this league. You have to use your linemates."

“He’s young and he has so much to learn about the proper way to play the game," continued Eakins, "once he grasps that, he is going to be dangerous when he steps on the ice. The thing about these guys who have that special gift of being able to put the puck in the net, is that once it starts not going in for them in the first couple of games, it can snowball quickly the other way where they maybe start cheating for offence then maybe looking away from the defensive part of the game."

Apparently Yakupov isn't very happy with Eakins' approach, “I’m going to play my game,” he said. “I’m not going to change but maybe play better without the puck, or forecheck more, but I love playing with the puck. I really don’t like skating all the time, and forechecking, and hitting somebody every shift. I don’t think it’s my game.”

It's no wonder Larionov is headed to Edmonton and Oilers GM Craig MacTavish left the GM meetings in Toronto a little early yesterday. It's oil and water right now.

MacTavish tried to settle things down while in Toronto saying, "I don’t know what the big deal is. It’s a bit of a distraction for us to have to answer to these comments."

And he made the hockey world know that they still liked Yakupov and his future, "“Our feelings about Yak are we like him. I like Yak a lot. I don’t feel any different today than the day that we drafted him. I feel like he’s going to be a great, dynamic scorer in this league.”

Yakupov, for his part, addressed the issue after practice yesterday.

Although he said that he wasn't asking for a trade nor was he bad-mouthing the team and/or city, he remains frustrated with his playing time, ""I know that (Larionov is) coming and we've got to do something because I don't see any trust in me now," said Yakupov. "I'm playing lower and lower minutes.

I just want to play. I don't want to play nine or five minutes. I think I can play more and I can help my teammates to do something to get some points. We need points. I'm 20 years-old and I think that's a pretty important year for me to learn how to play hockey."

Something isn't right in Edmonton with Yakupov, and it would seem as if there's a high probability that he will be moved.

What does it all mean for the Sabres? Probably not too much. Buffalo is presently dealing with their own problems including their 2012 first round pick (12th overall) Mikhail Grigorenko who has struggled to adapt to the NHL.
In a season where the Sabres are in full rebuild mode and dead last in the league, and with pressure mounting on the entire management staff, would they consider Yakupov?

I don't think there's a team in the league who shouldn't inquire about a "great, dynamic scorer."

And if the price was right, why not?

Monday, November 4, 2013

Jeremy White's "auto-pick" leaves much to be desired

The WGR sports jocks are there to entertain, and with the backdrop of a really poor professional sports scene in Buffalo right now, they need to come up with ideas to keep people interested. Even if the only real interest in their ideas is from themselves.

The latest came from WGR's morning guy, Jeremy White, last week.

White is the same guy who, after watching years of futility at under center for the Bills, believed that the team should select a quarterback in every round of the NFL Draft this past year. That's how bad he wanted his "franchise" quarterback.

Just take the best quarterback available in every round and the odds are one of them will work out was his basic philosophy (no real mention of the offensive co-ordinator, or head coach, and how they fit into the development and success of an NFL qb.)

Extreme? Yes. Practical? No. Fodder for the airwaves? Absolutely--for hours, days and weeks on-end.

Now he's bringing that same co-host draft ingenuity to the NHL.

White's premise is that anyone can draft players, therefore, instead of the GM and his amateur scouts watching and deliberating, they will simply use his "auto-draft" formula.

Auto-draft would simply have the team draft whomever is slotted in a particluar spot as determined by the Central Scouting or ISS lists or whatever list that's available. For instance, if Joe Hockey is rated #2, then you simply pick him at #2.

Simple and easy. accountability either. Perfect for a talk show co-host.

He does qualify it somewhat by directing his theory to the top half of the draft or so, but somehow I think he would take it further.

I guess he's forgotten that the Sabres used the "Video-scout 3000" for their drafting needs under former owner Tom Golisano. Golisano's directive was to cut the scouting staff to a bare minumum and use video to save money. Couldn't hurt, could it?

White's theory is convienient, albeit flawed, but he does have a point, especially when you're at the top of the draft. It doesn't take a "hockey genius" to figure out that Nathan MacKinnon and Seth Jones, or Taylor Hall and Tyler Seguin are top players that will be picked #1 or #2.

Even at #3 there's a good chance that a monkey could pick the right player.

But it's assessing talent in the top-15 to 20 and also what surrounds the year or years of the top pick(s) that can make a difference in the fortunes of a franchise. Not to mention assessing team needs at the time of the draft.

Case in point would be the Edmonton Oilers.

Not that anyone can blame them for the choices they've made the past few years, nor have they been bad draft picks, but with three consecutive #1 overall picks (2010-2012) they should be better than 29th in the league this year, three points ahead of the Sabres.

White calls them an aberration. Or you could just say that they're still too young. Or, considering that the Chicago Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup with one of the youngest teams in recent memory, you could say that something just isn't right.

Prior to Edmonton picking Hall (#1, 2010,) Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (#1, 2011) and Nail Yakupov (#1, 2012,) the Oilers were in a similar situation as Buffalo--a middling team on the down-side who had tasted recent success.

In the five years prior to Hall, Edmonton never had a pick higher than 6th-overall (Sam Gagner, 2007.) They had, the 25th pick in 2005, the 22nd in 2008 and the 10th in 2009. In 2006 they did not have a first round pick.

They also had multiple first rounders during their rebuild as well:  three in 2007, and two in 2011.

Yet, with all of those first-rounders and three #1 overall picks, they're still near the bottom of the league.

From 2005 to 2012, they mostly "Jeremy White auto-picked" and followed the scouting bureaus by drafting the best player available.

An auto-draft pick from the 2007 season would have had Gagner right in that #6 overall range. Not that he's a bad pick, but Logan Couture who was rated in the low-teens was picked 9th San Jose' and is considered one of the top up and coming centers in the league.

An auto pick at 3rd-overall from that same year would have had Phoenix taking Alex Cherepanov. He went #17 to the NY Rangers, played in the KHL, and suffered an untimely death while on the bench during a game.

In fact, 2007 is a definitive case-study against an "auto-draft."

Had the previously mentioned 2010 Cup Champion Chicago Blackhawks followed Central Scouting's draft list and auto-picked, they would have passed on Patrick Kane in favor of Kyle Turris. Kane scored the 'Hawks Cup-winning goal in 2010. Turris spent that season in the AHL with the San Antonio Rampage.

TSN's Bob McKenzie, who's pretty good when it comes to rankings, nailed the first three picks of the draft, but after that everything was scatter-shot.

Then there's the 2009 draft where the top-10 were pretty close to projections, including the Oilers pick at #10.

In that draft McKenzie had Magnus Paajarvi-Svensson going 10th, and that's who the Oilers drafted.

Two spots later the Nashville Predators selected defenseman, Ryan Ellis.

Auto-pick would have had Paajarvi-Svensson or any number of forwards going at #10, yet it would have failed to take into consideration that the Oilers had not selected a defenseman in the first round since 1996.

The ramifications of neglecting defensemen in the upper portion of the draft is starting to bite Edmonton. And they had the opportunity to address it three years later.

After picking forwards for years in the first round, as well as using the previous two #1 overall picks on forwards, the Oilers auto-picked Nail Yakupov in 2012. Which isn't a bad thing as the RW was considered the consensus top overall pick.

Sitting right behind him, though, was highly touted defenseman Ryan Murray, who was picked by the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Had the Oilers selected Ellis and Murray instead of Paajarvi-Svensson (who's no longer with the team) and Yakupov (who was in the doghouse this season) one would think that they would be climbing up instead of being stuck in neutral or regressing.

Edmonton and Buffalo have many parallels as hockey cities right now. Both are small markets, both cannot attract elite-level free agents and both are relying on the draft to change the fortunes of their franchises.

This season, the Sabres are heading down to the level of where the Oilers were at the close of 2010 and they're looking at a top pick in the upcoming draft.

Buffalo began accumulating draft picks two years ago trading veterans for picks.

Beginning with the 2012 draft, here's what the auto-picks would have been for Buffalo: 
  • 2012, 12th pick--D, Derrick Pouliot, (CSS) C, Mikhail Grigorenko TSN (rated #3 by CSS)
  • 2012, 14th pick--C, Colton Sissons (CSS) D, Cody Ceci (TSN)
  • 2013, 8th pick--C, Fredrick Gauthier, (CSS) D, Rasmus Ristolainen (TSN)
  • 2013, 16th pick--RW, Ryan Hartman (CSS) D, Mirco Mueller (TSN)
The Sabres picked Grigorenko and C, Zemgus Girgensons in 2012 then selected Ristolainen and D, Nikita Zadarov in 2013.

As young as they are, both Girgensons and Zadorov are the types of players that the Sabres have been lacking during "the core years," and they're fast becoming fan-favorites as well.

Within the next few years, Buffalo will be looking for them to be part of a foundation for the top picks they look to be getting over the next couple of years.

How they pan out will be another story, but I'd rather have their scouting staff assess need and worth as opposed to Jeremy White's "auto-draft."

Would "auto-draft" have asked Owner Terry Pegula and GM Darcy Regier if they wanted to get "tougher to play against" before picking Zadorov like AGM Kevin Devine did?

Friday, November 1, 2013

Quick hit on the John Scott ruling

The NHL's Department of Player Safety really showed John Scott and the Buffalo Sabres who's boss.

Scott who has never been suspended by the league, nor has he ever been fined, went before Brendan Shanahan for his hit to the head on Loui Eriksson.

Seven games was the verdict.


Scott's past doesn't matter. Nor do the other (lesser) suspensions matter. It just doesn't matter.

The Sabres are at the bottom of the league, so no one really cares. It's like hauling someone off from the ghetto as opposed to someon from the suburbs. Dude from the ghetto will get a much stiffer sentence for a lesser crime.

So it goes.

BTW, Georges Laraque is said to be entertaining the notion of coming back. Would love to see the look on Gary Bettman's face if the Sabres announced signing the former NHL pugilist.