It took about 4 years and 364 days for the Bills executives to catch up with the feelings of the Buffalo fan base with regard to the Toronto series. Publicly, at least.
With Russ Brandon noting that there appears to be a distinct competitive disadvantage to the Bills playing a late-season home game in the domed Rogers Centre each season, perhaps a change is coming for the recently renewed series. While fans are hoping for the best, I doubt the Bills are willing to turn away from the massive check that Rogers has cut them in order to get those regular season games.
There’s probably a good chance that there is a massive penalty that would need to be paid by either party if they decided to walk away, so I’d quell any thoughts of the remaining games being cancelled at this point.
But that doesn’t mean the Bills won’t be working to find a better working relationship with what has become little more than a joke of a cash grab for the organization. There are a few different ways that the Bills and Rogers could work to adjust and fix what has quickly deteriorated into a poorly attended, non-partisan yearly event that typically serves as the cherry on top of Buffalo’s annual playoff elimination.
The most preferable option would be to come to an amicable split, allow Rogers to take back any remaining funds that would be attached to the games that were still set to be played and allow the Bills to take their home games back. This is obviously a long shot as the legal eagles on both sides of the table most certainly wrote in some sort of cancellation clause which would prevent either side from terminating the deal. Read more…
A funny thing has happened in the past month-and-a-half. Since sacrificing three major pieces to obtain Thomas Vanek from the Sabres, the Islanders have been in a veritable tail spin; a tail spin that has taken them to just a handful of points away from the Sabres home in the NHL’s basement.
New York’s descent to the bottom of the Metro Division and NHL standings have left the organization, Garth Snow specifically, in a precarious situation as the rest of this season unfolds. Despite the massive shortcomings in the Metro Division, it would appear that the Islanders are dead in the water with regard to the Eastern Conference playoff picture. That leaves them just a few points from the basement and the potential to land a top-five pick based on their spot in the lottery. But with the Islanders due to fork over a first round pick to Buffalo in exchange for Vanek, Snow and his staff will need to determine if they want to lose a potential first round pick this year or miss out on what could be a very valuable chip in the Connor McDavid sweepstakes.
When the Vanek trade went through, determining which pick would turn Snow from saving to sacrificing his 2015 pick was a hot topic of conversation. However, talking about what Snow’s train of thought would be with a pick in the five-to-eight range is much different than if the Islanders are picking in the top three. The former being the more popular train of thought as a late slide out of playoff contention seemed like it could be the most likely scenario the Sabres would find themselves in terms of snagging a second first round pick this year.
With the Islanders struggling as badly as they have, a few more factors come into play with regard to their next two first round picks. Read more…
Earlier in the summer I took the time to project who I felt would be donning the red, white and blue for the United States in the 2014 Olympic Games. With a quarter of the NHL season in the books there is a potential for a number of players to have cemented their spots or even opened the eyes of the USA Hockey executive team.
Considering the US doesn’t have the mountain of talent that is touted by the Canadians to pull from, there are more than a few assumed locks for the team. Patrick Kane and Phil Kessel are both enjoying strong starts to the season and will certainly be counted upon to continue their elite scoring ways in Sochi. The story remains the same for many of the forwards I assumed would be making the squad.
What it will likely come down to is who has the strongest resume as the games near. While the orientation camp and preseason rosters were based on career resumes and the assumed growth of players, others have shot out of the gates and bear watching as the season progresses. Due to that, there is likely to be some shuffling amongst the names who already were considered favorites.
Max Pacioretty has only played 15 games and has accounted for nine points (7+2) in that span. His absence from the lineup and the slower start could bump him off the roster as could be the case for James Van Riemsdyk. He has 16 points (9+7) in 22 games and has a natural chemistry with Kessel, but he could also be supplanted by a new face should the executive staff go with who is playing best.
JVR is probably more of a longshot to be left off the roster than to make it at this point and Ryan Callahan’s injury issues to start the year and Dustin Brown’s unimpressive offensive output won’t win them many favorites. However, Brown and Callahan both serve incredibly well in a checking and leadership role, which will likely cement their spot on the roster.
My original roster only accounted for 13 forwards and seven defensemen as I didn’t account for the two extra roster spots made available for this year’s games. Given that my original roster now has two gift openings, there isn’t nearly as much trouble trying to narrow down who should and shouldn’t be packing up for Russia.
The players who have motivated me to revisit my picks include; Jason Pominville (13 goals already), TJ Oshie (21 points) along with a few others who I originally considered little more than darkhorse candidates (Alex Galchenyuk, Brandon Dubinsky and Cam Fowler).
I truly believe that most of the American roster was decided early on as players like David Backes, Kane, Kessel, Zach Parise and Ryan Suter were all but decided the minute the orientation camp roster came out. Others would certainly be favorites but would need a solid first half of the year to cement their spot, this is where I see some opportunity for turnover. Here’s my new roster with new names highlighted in blue: Read more…
Yet another clunker befell the Sabres on their first trip to Philadelphia during the Suck For Sam campaign. For the second-straight game the Sabres drew first blood only to see their opponent run away with a regulation victory.
It should be noted that if you’re a fan who, at any point, clamored for the team to tear it down and get the first pick, regulation losses are a primary part of the blueprint.
Thursday’s loss was highlighted more by undisciplined play than plain and simple bad play. Buffalo’s steady stream to the penalty box allowed the Flyers to rack up 31 shots through 40 minutes and 46 shots for the entire game.
Both goaltenders played quite well and the possession and shot totals ultimately favored the victors in a 4-1 victory. Read more…
Pat LaFontaine’s search for the Sabres’ next General Manager has likely hit high gear now that he’s had time to get settled, take a look at his team an begin contacting candidates.
The moment news broke that LaFontaine wouldn’t just be coming in as Buffalo’s new President of Hockey Operations, but that he’d be conducting the search for a new GM, speculation began to run rampant over who hey may interview, and which candidate would serve the Sabres best.
The name many fans turned to first was Rick Dudley. He’s the guy that Bucky Gleason has floated a number of times in hopes of seeing him installed in the GM chair for the Sabres. Considering Bucky had also previously suggested the thought of LaFontaine in his new role, certainly some connected the dots to his train of thought.
That isn’t to say that Sabres management is consistently scouring The Buffalo News, WGR Whiner Line or other outlets for hockey theories for hiring and trade ideas – at least I hope they aren’t – but it shows that Gleason does indeed understand the direction that the NHL hiring practices can follow.
Dudley wouldn’t be a bad hire by any stretch. He has a solid resume that saw him begin to shape some of the stronger parts of the current Winnipeg Jets core (his time was spent in Atlanta). He also spent a season with Toronto before catching on as Montreal’s Assistant GM in a role providing guidance to the Canadiens’ new General Manager, Marc Bergevin. Considering Bergevin’s relative inexperience, Dudley could be considered a guiding force in many ways.
Dudley also happens to have strong connections to the Sabres organization. Given the wave of nostalgia that has swept through the team offices, there wouldn’t be much surprise if yet another individual with ties to the team was brought in. Dudley has hopped around a bit in recent seasons which may be motivated by a desire to hold a significant role with an organization.
He doesn’t slot in as my preferred candidate, however. Sure, he has a nice resume and certainly has shown a penchant for strong talent evaluation. For this hire I wouldn’t mind seeing the Sabres go with more of an up-and-coming hire. While the associated risks are obvious, and it should be noted that Dudley isn’t in any way a re-tread or tired candidate, it seems that allowing a rising star in the executive ranks to take over would serve the team well.
One other thing to consider would be someone who has spent a significant portion of his time with a team that has not only had success, but built themselves to that level of success. Here’s a handful of other rumored candidates and some information on where they may fall into place during this search: Read more…
Merely mention John Scott’s name amongst Sabres fans and you’re sure to get a divisive response. The hulking enforcer has managed to win over or alienate his fair share of Sabres fans over the past 44 games.
He enters tonight’s contest with Philly with 44 games played in Buffalo, 102 PIMs, zero points and one significant suspension as a result of a check to the head. Oh, and he’s a -6. Scott’s effectiveness on the ice has never really been in question. He is a big huge dude who is paid to keep the peace, not score goals.
Scott was deemed a necessary addition after the lack of response surrounding the Miller/Lucic incident signified a need for more toughness in the Buffalo locker room. So Darcy Regier went out and found the one guy who was capable of fighting anyone. A 6’8” behemoth who had fought 22 times (according to HockeyFights.com) in four previous NHL seasons.
He was to be Buffalo’s great nuclear deterrent. The man who could stand up for his teammates, handle himself against each and every NHL heavyweight and the one player who would best instill a notion of confidence in his teammates.
The one problem is that the nuclear deterrent doesn’t seem to carry the clout that he was expected. The limited ice time that Scott receives means that he’s rarely available when duty calls and when he is dropping the gloves, it’s typically with another fighter who fits in the ICBM category.
The issue with Scott isn’t all that complicated. First, he isn’t the greatest hockey player out there, which limits his ice time. Because he doesn’t get much ice time he’s rarely available to fight. Because he’s rarely available to fight would indicate that he’s not much use to the Sabres. Read more…
It would appear that two games behind the bench is all that Ted Nolan needed to make some concrete decisions on the Sabres roster. A number of changes in the forward lines accompanied Nolan tipping his hand regarding the goaltenders after last weekend’s home-and-home with Toronto.
After Ryan Miller turned aside 33 shots in a 3-1 victory, Jhonas Enroth was victimized by screens and deflections in a 4-2 loss that saw the young Swede only make 22 saves. The decision to run with Miller was likely made not only due to his strong performance on Friday, but the play he has exhibited over his last five starts. Read more…