I was invited to, and will be attending, the third Buffalo Sabres ‘New Media Summit’. They used to just say ‘Blogger’ there, but New Media sounds all professional-like. If you have any questions, feel free to pass them on, and I will do my best to hide behind Phil from B&B&G and wait for someone else to ask them. Seriously, I will ask what I can. Time to dust off my dress pants! The life of a blogger that works from home, I tell ya.
Who else decided to go?
My worlds, they have collided. I read GeekDad (via Wired) fairly often, as there’s often great gaming and science content there, and that’s of interest to me and my son/daughters. I was quite surprised to see an article there about hockey, combining my two blog-lives in one place. Unfortunately, it’s not a positive thing – it’s about the insane level of violence that marred the beginning of the Stanley Cup playoffs.
Look, we’ve all talked it to death over the past week, and I’m not going to re-hash it. Shanny got some of these suspensions wrong. The jumping elbow-to-the-head isn’t a ‘hockey play’ and needs to be handled with severe penalties. If you don’t like fighting, that’s fine, not everyone does, and there are plenty of folks who would like to see it reduced or eliminated from the game.
Where I take issue, though, is this:
There is a large group of people who attend games just to watch people fight and get hurt.
No no NO. This is exactly the same as saying “oh, those rednecks only go to the NASCAR races for the crashes!”, and it’s just as untrue. Way to set yourself up on the high road. Hockey, like football and even basketball to a lesser extent, is a contact sport. Guys moving that fast, there’s going to be collisions and injuries. As a long-time fan, I find a clean thundering hit just as entertaining as a breakaway goal snipe by a skill guy. The same way I enjoy a receiver getting blasted over the middle but holding on to the ball, or a player driving the lane and delivering a powerful dunk while defenders go flying. I do not like the staged fights, but I admit I enjoy some good fisticuffs when there’s a reason for them.
Look, I’m all for removing the stupid hits from the game, the head-hunting, heck, toss in the slewfooting while you’re at it. It’s a great thing to advocate for. I watch the game with my kids sometimes, though in general my son has ignored the fights when they happen (even if I stand up to get a look at who’s dropped the gloves). But your words lose some of their effectiveness with me when you want to me and every other hockey fan I know into a ‘large group’ that loves seeing people get hurt. Just not true.
Gotta get a few things out there. First, I don’t care if your coach is an asshole. He shouldn’t have to hold your hand or give you a pat on the back for your effort. You left that behind when your mom was no longer waiting off the field or ice surface with orange slices and a bottle of water. Second, he might be yelling because you are MAKING THE SAME MISTAKE OVER AND OVER AGAIN. If we as fans are throwing our hands up in the air and shouting obscenities at you as you weakly pass across in front of your own net YET AGAIN, I can only imagine what Ruff is thinking.
Look, I realize that emotions and personality play a part in all aspects of life, and for a hockey player, that includes hockey. I’ve had bosses I didn’t like, but I kept working hard because I prided myself on it. Didn’t mean I was happy with it, but I like working and money. The stakes are a lot higher for these guys, but so is the compensation (and it’s guaranteed money). Should you look for another job? Okay, I can see that. Don’t want to re-sign here? Sure, maybe that’s the case. But I think Mike Grier showed that the grass isn’t always greener on the other side of the hill.
I am a generally positive guy. I like this team, and most of the players and coaches. When I say I want to see the Sabres win the Cup, it’s these guys I’m talking about. I realize that players and coaches come and go (some cities have that a lot more than others) but on the whole, I’d like success for the home-grown talent and not free agent mercenaries. With all that said, if Terry Pegula/Ted Black/Darcy (or a new GM) decide these guys need to go, let’s do it. Now is the time, while the long term contract guys are still young.
Okay, NOW you won’t hear from me much more after this.
The Sabres can no longer make the playoffs, and have one more meaningless game. In the short term, I was ticked about it last night, but today, not so much. It was a very difficult season in many ways, with injuries, underachievement, and media sniping. The highs were really high, and the lows were rock-bottom. We saw veterans and prospects leave (Gaustad, Gragnani, Kassian) and got a few new contributors (Hodgson, Sulzer).
How do I feel about this season? I’m disappointed that it won’t be going on to the playoffs, for sure. There is talent here – and I think the deadline improved that overall – but injuries and some questionable play overrode that. Next year’s roster won’t be that different, barring trades, as there are already 20 players under contract. Hecht, Boyes, and the surprising Sulzer are UFAs, with TJ Brennan, Tyler Ennis and Patrick Kaleta as RFAs. I can’t imagine either Hecht or Boyes being back. Sulzer is interesting, though. I’d love to keep him, as he showed some decent skills and kind of took that 6/7 D spot from Weber. Ennis is a no-brainer, and I imagine Kaleta gets a deal. That’s 13 forwards, including Marcus Foligno and Corey Tropp. If Brennan and McNabb start with Rochester, that leaves Regehr, Ehrhoff, Myers, Leopold, Sekera, and Weber as the D pending something with Sulzer. Of course, Miller/Enroth in the net.
Do I think that’s where we end up? I do not. The Pegula era Sabres have already shown they are willing to deal guys to get guys, and we have parts and pieces other teams would covet. July 1 is going to be interesting. Buffalo will be a player again, a destination for players who hopefully see the improvements and potential here.
I might post about the draft, and July 1, but expect this space to be fairly quiet in the offseason. I’m planning on blog maintenance, such as trying different themes, stuff like that. Might post up about the playoffs if the mood strikes, too. I’ll still be on Twitter, and please check out my non-hockey gadget/movie/TV/book talk at Honk if you Love Justice.
I didn’t see the comeback. The last one, I mean. When it went 5-3, I let my wife turn the game off. In my defense, my daughter was up sick with a horrible stuffy/snotty head so snuggling her was a bigger priority. So imagine my surprise when Jen switched the game back on for a minute and we saw it was tied! One of the goals was a smidge controversial, but whatever – they completed the comeback with a dynamite snipe from Derek Roy in OT.
After the trade deadline, I was sparring on Twitter with Jimmy Murphy, ESPNBoston.com’s Bruins wonk. He was perplexed as to why Buffalo would trade away our ‘answer to Lucic’. Seeing as how no one currently on the team had ever really ‘answered’ Lucic, I was perplexed. He said that came from a ‘Bruins source’. Ha. I replied that Marcus Foligno already played a ‘bigger’ game than Kassian had done in his time as a Sabre, so trading BZK was a non-issue. Murphy went on to show his ignorance when he assumed I meant Nick Foligno. I hope that after the past month, he’s figured out there’s another Foligno brother he might have to account for. 6G 7A +8, only 3 games in that stretch without a point. And then there’s this:
A “Hornet’s Nest”, indeed.
It’s easy to forget Jason Pominville. He doesn’t run guys over, he’s polite and non-controversial in his interviews, and doesn’t make waves off the ice. We can’t even make fun of his haircut anymore. Before this year, how many players on the team would you go through before you got to Pominville, if a new fan asked “Who are the Sabres’ best players?” Remember even Bryan Murray, asked about Pominville’s magical short-handed OT series winning goal, asked about how a player got behind the D like that, answered “It’s Jason Pominville”. We as fans have called him overrated, overpaid, and have hoped he’d be traded for someone, anyone else. Eyebrows were raised when he was given the C, for sure.
It’s pretty clear that maybe Lindy and Darcy knew more than we did about the room and Jason. 68 points in 77 games, 5 game winning goals, while facing the tough minutes each night. That strip of Ovechkin last night, and the comments after the game about the team wanting to impose their will on Washington, speak volumes to his leadership by example. He works hard every time you see him. We need to do a better job of remembering Pominville. I bet Ovechkin doesn’t forget him for a while. Just like Bryan Murray.
Tonight’s game is the biggest game of the Sabres’ season, since the last one. And until the next one. I actually started writing this last week, but never finished it, yet it still can be considered correct. One new positive is that the Sabres can now narrow their focus down to two teams, as they are 6+ points clear of every club below them. It’s all about Washington (tonight’s opponent) and Ottawa (4 points ahead, Buffalo with a game in hand).
Nathan Gerbe and Patrick Kaleta are both cleared to play tonight, though it remains to be seen if either gets back in tonight. I think it’s pretty safe to assume Marcus Foligno is going nowhere, so some combo of Tropp, Turnbull or McCormick would be sitting or sent back to Rochester. Barring any oddities like sitting Boyes or whatever.
7pm tonight, appointment television. Recording it, kicking the wife off the big TV, the whole nine yards. I’m finally feeling some excitement. Let’s do this.
We all know what’s at stake for the Buffalo Sabres right now. Every point is important, being 2 back of Washington (also playing tonight). The improbable run Buffalo’s on (slightly more improbable than last year) is coming to a close, with only 8 more games left after tonight. The Sabres have gotten a lot of help – the other contenders for the 8th spot have been doing a LOT of losing, so that even when Buffalo only picked up 1 point in a few games recently, it didn’t hurt. They weathered Tyler Myers being out, and get him back tonight.
So why isn’t there more buzz about this team? Well, for me, I’m just enjoying the ride. Trying not to get too wound up in case they falter. Even if they make the playoffs, there are some juggernauts they might end up facing (Penguins look deadly right now). Much like Gerbe’s second-half last year, I’ve loved watching Tyler Ennis develop. I want to see more of this rough and tumble Tyler Myers. I’m very much enjoying the success of the young guns on their call-ups, with Foligno in particular showing why we were okay with trading away Zack Kassian.
I might just get to watch tonight, and while I’m not jumping-up-and-down excited like some people seem to be expecting, I’m happy. Take it or leave it.
I went to the Sabres/Canadiens game on Monday, and I thought I’d comment about the issue everyone is talking about (while they distract themselves from a stressful playoff run). I had zero problems with the crowd or the noise they made. Did it get quiet during play? Yeah, but *I* get quiet during play – I’m watching! I know I made a joke about it, but it’s true. Let me turn this around: those of you who think we should make noise the whole game, what exactly are we doing? Random cheering? Constantly trying to chant (even if no one is joining in)? I’m serious, what do you want to hear? I thought we were plenty loud at the right times.
The other aspect of it was whether or not we were cheering Gomez’s injury. I saw Myers hit him, and it didn’t look like a clean hit to me from the start, though the size difference can make that hard to judge at full speed. I’m not surprised he got dinged though three games is a bit much for a non-repeat offender to me. The Sabres have a history with Scott Gomez (the Miller injury – and another ‘lack of response’, painful memory there) so it’s not surprising that fans would be less than sympathetic with him being injured, but it’s not like it was being greatly cheered or anything. Montreal media needs to remember that a few bad apples on Twitter don’t make a fanbase. Just like a few Habs fans who flip over and burn cop cars after a playoff win don’t make up theirs.
We have to hope at this point that the Sabres can rally without Myers (who has been more and more productive lately, including the game-winner against the Habs) and keep rattling off wins to try and get ahead of Washington or Florida. Sekera is still out, and Sulzer has been playing well in his stead, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Brayden McNabb is back in. See you at 7:30pm for Colorado.
Hey, you guys. Yes, you, with the sign and the face paint. Keep it down tomorrow night, my son and I are attending a hockey game, and I want to watch what happens. Feel the wrath of my disapproving stare when you yell “SHOOOOOOT” seven seconds into a power play. Quiver in your seats as I berate you (on Twitter, of course) for your random “WOOOOOO” when you got your twelfth beer, or an awesome nacho platter, or whatever the hell it was for. Don’t even THINK of standing up if there’s a breakaway. By the way, it’s “Let’s Go Buff-a-lo”, not “Let’s Go Sabres”, so don’t let me hear you say that, even if it’s your six year old who really wants to start a chant who starts it. Boo ONLY the players on the approved villains list for the opponent at each game. Don’t laugh at the Kiss Cam or the crotch-shot videos, that will only encourage them to keep showing them. A round of polite applause is required when a correct call is made by the on-ice officials against an opposing player.
Or, just go the game and do whatever makes you happy. It IS a game, after all. Everybody else can jump in a fucking lake if they don’t like it. Conveniently, there’s one right outside the FNC.