Sunday, August 30, 2015

Fans backing up belief in the Sabres future with season ticket sales.

Reprinted with permission from

Buffalo Sabres fans have backed up their strong beliefs in the future of the Blue and Gold by, once again, flocking to the gate. The Sabres announced today that season ticket sales for the 2015-16  season has been capped at 16,000.

"The fact that we had such a high rate of renewal from our season ticket holders is really a testament to the direction our organization is headed, " Sabres president Russ Brandon said via a press release. There's a tremendous amount of excitement surrounding our team and we cant' wait to get on the ice."

This year represents a definitive departure from the annual off-season ratcheting up of hope not only for the Buffalo Sabres, but for football's Buffalo Bills as well. The Bills, who like the Sabres are under the umbrella of Pegula Sports and entertainment, have sold a franchise record 60,000 season tickets.

What both teams have in common, other than a loyal, passionate fanbase, is that they've made significant strides upgrading the team behind the billionaire wealth of the Pegula family. Both teams have made moves normally reserved for big-market, big-money teams and in doing so they've restored the faith of the fans that there is a commintment to winning and that it starts at the top.

With 16,000 season tickets, only 3070 seats are now available for Buffalo's home dates and the Sabres are encouraging fans to "order mini packs." Those that held mini packs last season can renew them starting 12pm tomorrow (August 27th.) with mini packs available to the general public beginning 10am, September 3rd.

Individual game tickets will go on sale to all fans Saturday, September 19th at 10am.

The Sabres announced that 96% of season ticket holders have renewed their tickets. It's the 10th consecutive year that renewal rates have topped 90%.

And for those on the season ticket waiting list, there are over 2,000 names presently on the season ticket list.


Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Getting to know Jason Kasdorf Part II

Reprinted with permission from

This is the second in a two-part series about Sabres goalie prospect, Jason Kasdorf.

Ewald Kasdorf was born and raised on a farm in Brazil then emigrated with the rest of his family--all 15 of them--to Winnipeg to start a new life. Ewald's parents had relatives in Winnipeg and they'd told them of an opportunity for a better life in Canada so they decided to pack up the clan and move.

"From a young age my dad was always working, always had lots of responsibility," said Jason Kasdorf. "and when they came to Canada, they really didn't have much. Basically every bit of money my dad made he gave to his parents to help them and the family out."

As things stabilized, Ewald started a plumbing business and eventually his own family, Jason, the only son of three, would spend his summers working beside his father, watching, listening, and learning. They developed a pretty tight relationship. "I worked with my dad since the summer of grade six," Kasdorf told me. "since then I'd worked for him every summer. It was great. I got to spend time with my dad every day. Now I only see him a couple times a year throughout the season, so being able to do that with him growing up was pretty special."

The strong work ethic wrought from of Ewald's time on the farm and the responsibility of helping his family start a new life in a new country with practically nothing would rub off on Jason. "I think my dad's passed on some of those traits to me just hearing about what he did growing up."

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Getting to know Jason Kasdorf.

Reprinted with permission from

This in the first of a two-part series on Sabres goalie prospect, Jason Kasdorf

He was a goalie prospect considered by many to be the proverbial "thrown-in" part of the February 11, 2015 blockbuster trade between the Winnipeg Jets and Buffalo, although it's hard to believe that a meticulous GM like the Sabres Tim Murray would simply point to a name on a roster and say, "Meh, throw him in as well."

The Jets/Sabres deal, had the big names--Evander Kane and Tyler Myers--and included vets Drew Stafford and Zach Bogosian, plus there were Buffalo prospects Joel Armia and Brendan Lemieux, as well as a first round pick sent to Winnipeg in the trade. And then there was unsigned goalie Jason Kasdorf who's low draft position and uneven college career at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, NY left analysts scratching their head asking, "Who?"

TSN's Scott Cullen described Kasdorf as "a curious inclusion in the deal," while others simply didn't think much of, and/or know much about him. Central Scouting Services had Kasdorf as the 10th-ranked US goalie heading into the 2011 NHL Draft and he ended up going in the sixth round (157th) to his hometown Jets. He was the first of seven goalies taken in that round. Even then the Kasdorf pick was considered somewhat sentimental as this was the first draft for the latest incarnation of the Winnipeg Jets. Having a hometown boy in their inaugural draft, many thought, adds to the feel-good story of the Jets return to Winnipeg.

The pick, however, shouldn't be construed as purely sentimental.

Friday, August 21, 2015

More changes for the Sabres front office

Reprinted with permission from

According to reports Buffalo Sabres head amateur scout Dave Torrie, is headed to Los Angeles to join the Kings scouting department. Torrie was offered a new contract by GM Tim Murray and the Sabres, but turned it down to head to Los Angeles as a pro scout.

Buffalo assistant general manager Kevin Devine hired the former Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds general manager in September, 2011 as a regional amateur scout covering Ontario and Michigan. Very soon after, Torrie found himself in an expanded role, covering more territory with Devine and head amateur scout, Al MacAdam.

Last season, according to the Buffalo Sabres media guide, Torrie was just under the director of amateur scouting, Greg Royce. Royce was hired by Murray last August in a front office shift that saw Devine move to his new position as director of player personnel. Torrie sat atop a large amateur scouting staff of 17 scouts.

The Sabres have had quite a bit of success drafting since Torrie was hired and the scouting department expanded under owner Terry Pegula. Since a rough start in 2011, the Sabres catapulted to the top of the team prospects world last year before a number of moves by Murray depleted the ranks. Amongst the players looking to make healthy contributions to the future of the Blue and Gold are Zemgus Girgensons (2012, 14th overall,) Jake McCabe (2012, 44th,) Rasmus Ristolainen, (2013, 8th,) Nick Baptiste, (2013, 69th) and Sam Reinhart (2014, 2nd.)

Torrie heads to Los Angeles as a pro scout for a Kings team that has won two Stanley Cups over the last four years and is loaded for bear once again after missing the playoffs last season.

According to Mark Malone of the Chatham Daily News (Ontario,) Torrie felt his time with the Sabres had run it's course. “I don't know if there was any one reason (for leaving),” he told Malone. “I've been with Buffalo for four years on the amateur side of the scouting. Over the four years, there have been some changes in the organization. My contract was coming up and they made me a contract offer, but I felt maybe it was time to look at something different. After four years, it was time for a change.

"It seemed like a good time to make a change and try something different.

“It'll be more for trades and free agents and tracking and rating pro players,” he said. “I think it'll cut down a little bit on my travel. At worst, I won't be going over to Europe six, seven times a year like when I was in Buffalo.”

The difference between Buffalo and Los Angeles, like Torries new role, is night and day. While the Kings were busy as perennial Stanley Cup contenders, winning twice in the last four years, Buffalo was tearing down, something not lost on Torrie.

“It was a frustrating four years in Buffalo; we never made the playoffs. ... Buffalo's at a point where they're about to become more competitive … and have a chance down the road to be an elite team and contend for the Stanley Cup.”

There have been huge changes in the Sabres front office this summer. Team President Ted Black, who was a part of Pegula's initial team, was released and replaced by Russ Brandon who was and is President of the Buffalo Bills, also owned by the Pegulas. Vice President of Hockey Related Business Joe Batista, who was a part of Pegula's inner circle, stepped down, supposedly to spend more time with his family.

Joining Torrie on his way out the door is long-time strength and conditioning coach, Doug McKenney.

According to WIVB in Buffalo, McKenney, who had been with the team since 1995, is no longer with the team. The report states that the Sabres and McKenney have "parted ways" with his destination "unknown."

From a player personnel perspective, it's been a quiet summer on the Sabres front, but there've been some bombs coming out of the front office.

Special thanks to Malone for his article on Torrie.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

A toast with the new "One Buffalo" beer from Southern Tier Brewery

Reprinted with permission from

The Buffalo Sabres and Buffalo Bills are owned by the Pegula Family and are under the umbrella of Pegula Sports and Entertainment. Last October PSE President and CEO Kim Pegula launched the "One Buffalo":

"One Buffalo provides a link between Bills fans, Sabres fans, and the city of Buffalo," said Kim Pegula. "We are all moving in the same direction: One Team; One Goal; One Community; One Family; One Buffalo. It is our goal to continue to contribute to the resurgence of Western New York, and we are very optimistic about the future. We are proud to be able to play a role in our city's redevelopment at a time when our community has never been closer together."

And now, thanks to Southern Tier Brewery, they now have a Beer to celebrate with. According to Will Cleveland of the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, "What started as a brewery tour and sampling seven months ago has bloomed into a new collaborative beer to celebrate the spirit of Western New York."

The craft brew from Southern Tier is a year-round "session-able and refreshing American Pale Ale at 4.8 percent alcohol," according to the Cleveland Article with the label featuring the name 'One Buffalo,' a PSE trademark, the familiar colors of the Bills and Sabres."

"One Buffalo, Our Beer" will be available next month and will be on tap at both Ralph Wilson Stadium and the First Niagara Center.

In honor of that, we raise a glass and toast to:

Prime years: 2009, Where's the beef? Sabres bulk up at draft

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Worse than finishing outside the playoffs for the second year running was the reputation that the Buffalo Sabres had around the league. And it wasn't a good one. They were considered a soft team that had good amount of talent, but when the heat was turned up and they wilted. It was the season where head coach Lindy Ruff started urging his charges to "play out of character" as the new-NHL had given way to a tougher game and the European style of play was beginning to fade away.

Buffalo finished 10th in the conference once again, only two points behind Montreal in the Eastern Conference. The Sabres also ranked 13th-overall in goals-for, but in the category of scoring goals at a crucial time, they just couldn't get it done. They were a very weak group, unfamiliar with, and/or unwilling to, get to the "bloody nose" areas of the ice where goal-scoring was becoming more and more predominant.

Their leader that season was defenseman Craig Rivet who was acquired from the San Jose Sharks over the summer and was an alternate captain for the Montreal Canadiens. Rivet added size and backbone to this soft but skilled group, but it wasn't enough to endure the rigors of the way the NHL was trending and the team would fall short in their quest for the playoffs.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Prime years: 2008, A seismec shift, poor season, solid draft

Reprinted with permission from

The 2008 NHL Draft for Buffalo was marked by and important draft-day trade that would finally net the Buffalo Sabres a bonafide top-level player. It was a move that involved tenacity on the part of their head amateur scout, a willing trade partner in the Los Angeles Kings and a little luck in that the Kings, holders of the 12th overall pick and the Sabres, who were one slot behind, were not after the same player.

Buffalo went into that draft after enduring a tumultuous 2007 off season that began with the departures of their top two centers and team leaders in Chris Drury and Daniel Briere. And in a kick to the groin while they were lying on the street beat up and bloody, 43-goal scorer Thomas Vanek signed an offer sheet from the Edmonton Oilers. The Sabres would match the 7 yr./$50M sheet with GM Darcy Regier proclaiming, "We aren't going to become a farm team for the other NHL teams."

That bold proclamation wouldn't last as they farmed out one more player--defenseman Brian Campbell. Campbell had blossomed into a offensive force and two-time All-star since being selected in the 6th round (156th overall) of the 1997 draft, Regier's first draft as Sabres GM. He was also a casualty of the success of the previous two seasons.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Prime years: 2007, another draft class with nothing to show for it

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If the 2005 and 2006 drafts left much to be desired, then the Buffalo Sabres were in for more trouble heading into the 2007 draft as they were without a first round pick. Not that it would matter all that much. As shown previously, the Sabres ended up squandering their 2005 first-rounder, Marek Zagrapan as well as their 2006 first-rounder, Dennis Persson, as neither ever played in an NHL game. In addition, because of the Presidents Trophy-winning success the team had as well as another Eastern Conference Finals appearance, the team was set to pick way down in the first round (28th overall.)

At the 2007 trade deadline Buffalo was looking to bolster their lineup for the playoffs. GM Darcy Regier traded former first round pick Jiri Novotny (2001, 22nd overall) and their 2007 first round pick for Danius Zubrus (1996, 15th, PHI) and Timo Helbling (1999, 162nd, NSH.) Regier would also hedge that loss of their first rounder with the trade of back-up goalie Martin Biron to Philadelphia for the Flyers 2007 second round pick, 31st overall. All-in-all Buffalo dropped three slots in the draft but would bolster their smallish forward ranks with the 6'5" 225 lb. Zubrus.

Friday, August 7, 2015

Prime years: The void grows bigger as the 2006 draft flops

Reprinted with permission from

The Buffalo Sabres had a real strong 2005-06 NHL season, making it to within one game of the Stanley Cup Finals. It was wide open first NHL season after the lockout in both the style of play and in the standings. Through tight officiating the league took the clutching, grabbing and hooking out of the game on the ice while off it they also created a competitive balance through the salary cap. The "final four" that year included three "small-market" teams--Buffalo and Carolina in the east and Edmonton in the west--with Carolina defeating Edmonton in the Stanley Cup Finals.

The Sabres surprisingly successful campaign (complete with a bitter end) can be directly related to using the 2004-05 lockout as a way to get their young players playing the type of game they'd be playing on the big club once the lockout was over. The future "core" of the Sabres spent that entire season in Rochester playing for the Amerks and developing a chemistry that would lead the big club to a 52-win, 2005-06 NHL campaign (the first time ever they eclipsed the 50-win mark) and the fifth best record in the league.

The success of the 2005-06 season can be traced in part to player development mostly in the forward ranks as rookies Thomas Vanek and Derek Roy along with Jason Pominville made significant contributions to the big club that season in secondary scoring roles.

The defense was a bit different, however, as the Sabres d-corps was composed of vets who would spend the lockout playing overseas. Three d-men who were in Rochester the entire year--Nathan Paetsch, Doug Janik and Rory Fitzpatrick--are dubiously linked to the Sabres bitter end in the Eastern Conference Finals that season (along with Jeff Jillson) as they were forced into service due to an inordinate number of injuries on the blueline.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Prime years. A look at past Sabres drafts of players who'd be in their primes today.

Reprinted with permission from

The NHL continued it's annual "30 Teams in 30 Days" series yesterday with their take on the Buffalo Sabres. The Sabres, who once again drafted second in the 2015 NHL Draft, were second on their list behind the Edmonton Oilers, who had the first overall pick at the draft.

It's a good read for hockey fans outside of Sabreland, but there's really not much there that we Sabres fans don't already know, like the top two prospects being second-overall picks C, Jack Eichel (2015) and C, Sam Reinhart (2014) both of whom were the "rewards" of Buffalo finishing last in the league (while losing both lotteries.). What is supremely evident in the articles that compose Buffalo's portion of the NHL series, is the tremendous positivity surrounding a club moving forward. The Sabres have a young and talented new core rising and a once-battered team looks to be on the fast track to respectability and beyond.

With the dog days of summer upon us and long stretches of hockey inactivity being the norm, we have the opportunity to further explore how a team that had gone to consecutive Eastern Conference Finals some 10 years ago would enter a dismantling phase five years later and completely blow it to pieces over the course of the last two seasons.

Monday, August 3, 2015

On Randy Cunneyworth's hiring as coach of the Rochester Americans

Reprinted with permission from

The 2005-06 NHL heralded in great change for the NHL. After owners locked out the players for the entirety of the 2004-05 season, something that had never been done before in any of the four major North American sports, the league was coming back with a new financial structure to satisfy owners and a new, more wide open product on the ice for fans.

Cost-certainty was the key word for owners as players salaries were now tied to revenue via the salary cap. Prior to the cap, 76% of revenue went towards players salaries, a situation that caused owners to collectively lose $273 million during the 2003-04 season. With the cap in place the players share of hockey related revenue dropped down to 54% the first year of the new Collective Bargaining Agreement. With this in place, the Buffalo Sabres, who for many years were operating in the red, found themselves on an even level with the rest of the teams.

On the ice, hockey fans were introduced to "The New NHL." After a decade of "clutching and grabbing," where star players were continually impeded (mugged) by the not so gifted, the NHL cracked down on any impedance to skill and created a European-style "no-touch" league where speed and talent would once again dominate the sport.

These changes lead to a rebalancing in the NHL where teams like the mighty Boston Bruins and the free-spending Toronto Maple Leafs in the Eastern Conference would be replaced by the small-market Carolina Hurricanes and Buffalo Sabres coming out of the lockout, the latter two teams playing in the Eastern Conference Finals.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Development Camp favorite Josh Chapman signs with the Amerks

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While the 2015 Buffalo Sabres Development Camp centered around the team's tow center's of the future in 2nd overall picks Jack Eichel (2015) and Sam Reinhart (2014) there was an unheralded d-prospect who came into camp with little notice, save for his size, but left leaving an indelible mark on the organization.

Josh Chapman, a 6'3" 210 lb. defenseman, was an invite who came into camp having played in 164 Ontario Hockey League games throughout his junior career. To say that he's a defensive-defenseman may be an understatement as he was able to light the lamp a mere two times in those 164 games. But that's not what he's all about.