Archive for June, 2011:

BSN Contest: Name That Sabre!


How’s about a little game-show style history?

Today, we’ve got a special little challenge for you readers out there.  In the picture below, there is a former Buffalo Sabre slightly obscured being pulverized by Peter Zezel and Rick Tocchet.

Not the picture. Keep reading.


Your challenge is to analyze the photo, consult your deep Sabres fanaticism, and figure out who is inside that Broad Street Bully Bludgeon sandwich.

Leave your answers in the comments section below.

The first correct response receives “future considerations!”  In other words, the prize might be something great, or it might be nothing at all – it all depends on several determining factors my mood.

And now, contestants, here is your mystery Sabre: 199w" sizes="(max-width: 300px) 100vw, 300px" />

At least one sock looks unscathed.

We’ll give you one hint: this hit occurred during the ’87-’88 season.  Now, go scour that old roster and give us your best shot!

Go Sabres.

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Brad Richards Update: Toronto, Rangers Still in Play

Dallas is saying goodbye to their star center.

Brad Richards’ agent, Pat Morris, gave the New York Daily News some details on Monday night:

“The Stars have not asked Brad to waive his no-trade clause, and at this point in time, he has no intention of doing so,” agent Pat Morris told the Daily News Monday night when informed that a source had said a move to the Toronto Maple Leafs could be completed by the end of this week. “We’re still pointing toward July 1.”

The Daily News goes on to say that the Leafs remain the team to beat in the Richards derby:

A source told The News Monday night that the Maple Leafs felt close enough to making such a deal that they already have plans in place for subsequent moves to clear salary-cap room for Richards, who made $7.8 million this season.

“It’s legit,” the source said. “Toronto is desperate for a star like this.”

The Rangers remain linked to Richards through their head coach, John Tortorella, who coached Richards in Tampa.  The Lightning, whom Richards won a Stanley Cup and Conn Smythe trophy with back in 2004, are also in the speculative market. 340w" sizes="(max-width: 281px) 100vw, 281px" />

Next stop: Toronto?

Meanwhile, Mark Stepneski of ESPN reports that while the Stars are out of the running to retain their star center, GM Joe Nieuwendyk has a plan B already in place:

One of the priorities for 2011-12 is a top six forward with it becoming clear now that Richards will hit the free agent market and will not be back with the team. Nieuwendyk said that top six forward might come through a trade rather than overspending on one in free agency.

“I think we need a top 6 forward with Brad obviously moving on,” Nieuwendyk said. “Jamie [Benn] shifting to center is a very likely scenario. It’s not 100 percent set in stone yet. If you’ve Benner and Loui [Eriksson] and you’ve got [Mike Ribeiro] and Brenden [Morrow], there’s your top two (lines)and you fill in around them.”

While adding Alex Goligoski at last season’s trade deadline was a major boost to the defense, Nieuwendyk said adding a top defenseman is a focus as well.

“We’d like to improve our defense for sure,” he said. “Again, it may be through trade.”

Depth is another priority. It’s an area that hurt the Stars last season and something that has paid dividends for teams that have gone deep in the playoffs.

That might seem like a lot of work for the Stars, but it shows what kind of impact a big contract like Richards’ can have on a team. With his $7.8 million off the books, Nieuwendyk suddenly has the ability to change the complexion and depth of his entire roster.  Any team that takes on Richards is going to lose much of their wiggle-room for a long time, a problem that Buffalo Sabres Nation has touched on before.

Still, some team out there will think Richards is worth the riches.

Go Sabres.

See also: “Target: Brad Richards.


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Tim Horton: an Intra-League Draft, a Tragedy, and a Banner

It’s June 5th.

Back on June 5 of 1972, the Sabres selected Tim Horton in the intra-league draft, off the Pittsburgh Penguins roster.  The rugged defender would go on to become the heart and soul of Buffalo.

But as the story goes, Horton was hesitant to sign for his last, tragic year in Buffalo.

His donut empire was growing, and at 43, he was the second oldest player in the league, (just months younger than netminder Gump Worsley). But Punch Imlach realized he needed Horton on the blueline, and offered him another one-year contract.

The deal was sealed when Imlach offered Horton a 1973 De Tomaso Pantera sports car as a bonus.


On February 20, 1974, Buffalo was visiting Toronto, hoping to steal two points and help gain enough momentum to propel the team towards a playoff spot. Horton played his typical game, despite playing with a broken jaw (the result of a deflected slapshot during the previous day’s practice).  The Sabres lost 4-2, but Tim was still named the game’s third star.

“He was hurting too bad to play a regular shift in the third period,” recalled Imlach. “We faded without him and lost the game to the Leafs. After the game, he and I took a little walk up Church Street and had what was our last talk.”

“He was down in the dumps because he didn’t like to miss a shift and he felt he had cost us the game. I got on the bus with the team. Tim drove the ‘cursed’ car back to Buffalo. He didn’t make it.”

In the early morning hours of February 21st, a report came over the Ontario Provincial Police radio of a sports car moving at high speed through the Burlington area along the QEW. An officer near Vineland saw the car fly past him and tried to follow it, but he couldn’t keep up. He estimated the car was going at least 160 kmh (100 mph). 644w" sizes="(max-width: 300px) 100vw, 300px" />

Now THAT is a hockey mug.

Some time around 4:30 the morning of February 21, 1974, Horton’s Pantera hit an elevated sewer grate and flipped several times, throwing him from the vehicle onto the highway near St. Catharines.

Horton was killed instantly.

After the loss, his business parter, Ron Joyce, created theTim Horton Children’s Foundation.  The foundation reflects Horton’s love for children and his desire to help those less fortunate.  This year the Foundation will serve close to 14,000 children from economically disadvantaged homes.

Tragedy can be ironic, confusing, and devastating.  37 years later, however, Tim Horton is still doing one of the things he always cherished – helping folks out.  Next time you are at the HSBC arena, take a peek up at his #2 hanging from the rafters, and whisper a thank you.

Go Sabres.

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Serious Sabres Superstitions: A Story behind the Sign-off

Go Sabres.

That’s my sign-off here on Buffalo Sabres Nation, having taken it with me from my old blog, “buffalo74.”  It wasn’t there on my first post, and I don’t remember exactly when it became a part of my posts or even why – but along the way it became something much bigger than a simple sign-off.

“Go Sabres” became the latest addition to my long list of Sabres fan superstitions – a new superstition that was confirmed, eventually, by one tragic event.  More on that at the end of the post. For now, let me introduce you to a few of the things I put myself (and my lovely, supportive wife) through on game day.  It’s going to be a weird ride, so settle in with your Sunday cup-o-joe and be ready to admit to yourself that you do this kind of loopy stuff too.

The Wing-Stained Jersey 400w" sizes="(max-width: 300px) 100vw, 300px" />

Artist's interpretation: don't ask how it got into the armpit. Things got pretty nuts at the ol' BWW's.

During the 2006-07 playoff run, I purchased a rookie Drew Stafford “slug” jersey.  I wore that ugly slug with great embarrassment pride at the Jacksonville, FL “Buffalo Wild Wings” for every one of those insane playoff games.  Like all the other displaced Sabres fans in Jacksonville that chose that venue for that year’s wild ride, I was not willing to wear anything else on game day.  It didn’t matter how many wing/beer stains it soaked up – in fact, the more wing sauce that dripped on his jersey the more empowered I felt.  Stafford had a pretty solid showing in that playoff run, and I believed that the spice from that hot sauce was somehow adding some fire to his step. And for a fan, belief is fact.

We all know how that playoff year ended.  Washing the ol’ jersey was a painful thing to do (but at least the neighborhood pit bulls stopped following me to the corner store on my game day beer runs).

The Aud Seat 768w" sizes="(max-width: 225px) 100vw, 225px" />

The Captain's Chair!

It’s orange, with a #6 plate.  It’s beat up as if someone valiantly climbed fell over the fence during the demolition of the old Aud and snagged it from a pile of debris.

My lawyer would like to assure you all that not I, nor anyone else, came across the seat in that fashion, nor would we advise anyone reading this to climb a fence of any variety, (unless maybe to escape the pursuit of a bunch of neighborhood pit bulls while on a game-day beer run).

The seat was my throne of power throughout the mighty playoff push this season, a push which saw the Sabres pull off the best record in the Eastern Conference that was powered, as far as I was concerned, by the sheer willpower of my comfy butt.

When Round One came up against Philly, I had a hard choice to make.  I had already put everything colored orange into storage in preparation for the fight against the hated Flyers.  Conflicted, I set it down in the closet.

Of course, the Sabres would lose in seven games, and I can only wonder over how things may have been if I had not ditched my lucky seat.  But the fact is, it wasn’t the seat.

It was something else entirely.  Again, we’ll get to that later.

The Mini Stanley

I have an old plastic Stanley Cup – the last remaining artifact from my old Coleco table hockey game.

My precious.

Back in the 90’s, my friends and I at Buffalo State College would hold tourneys over this trinket, but the main events at that Coleco table were the match-ups on Sabres game days during the playoffs.  These match-ups, we were all convinced, directly influenced the outcome of the games.

The proof: I was skating with an old-school version of the Vancouver Canucks – one that included Don Lever, who was an assistant coach with the Sabres in ’93 when Buffalo swept Boston to move on to Round Two against the Canadiens.  Folks have often wondered how Brad May was able to make that move to beat Borque, and then the next move to freeze Andy Moog and score that iconic goal. Well, anyone living in Neumann Hall at that time knows what happened a few hours before RJ screamed out “MAY DAY, MAY DAY!”  My little plastic Don Lever dude had a hat trick.

Fast forward to Game Three against the Habs: Mogilny breaks his leg and LaFontaine hurts his knee.  The Sabres would go on to be swept by Montreal.  Earlier that day, little plastic Don Lever and his 2-D Vancouver boys were shut out.

These days, I position the Cup on the top right corner of my TV.  No one touches it.  If it accidentally moves a little, no one touches it. If it falls, bad things are to be expected on the ice. It’s not totally accurate, obviously, but I believe it still carries some of that power from the good ol’ days at the dorm.

And like I said, as a fan, belief is fact.

Over the years, I’ve piled up enough half-witted superstition items to make a voodoo shrine at the foot of the TV for playoff games. There’s an old, autographed Rob Ray card that I used to carry with me in my back pocket to games at the Aud.  That thing motivates the fluff players on the Sabres roster to put in that 110%.  I have a puck from each era of Buffalo hockey (including one from the “pepsi-cap” Bisons).  Each one of these is lined up, in chronological order, along the front of the TV.

I even have a Sam Elliott bobble-head (“The Stranger,” from the Big Lebowski) that  I set down near the pucks.  When I get antsy, I whap him upside the head and try to remember his opening narrative:

I can’t say I seen London, and I never been to France, and I ain’t never seen no queen in her damn undies as the fella says. But I’ll tell you what, after seeing Los Angeles and thisahere story I’m about to unfold – wal, I guess I seen somethin’ ever’ bit as stupefying as ya’d see in any a those other places, and in English too, so I can die with a smile on my face without feelin’ like the good lord gypped me.

It’s all a little stupefying and silly, isn’t it?  But it all puts a smile on my face, and I feel – I believe – these trinkets and superstitions do keep me connected to the team in a way no other thing can.

And as a fan, belief, my friends, is fact.

Oh, about that sign-off thing.  I promised I’d get back to that one.  Well, here goes – forgive me if it comes across as sounding a little like a confession.  (Because it is.)

The morning of Game Seven, I wrote up a nice little post, proof-read it with a smile, and hit the publish button.  When I read over the post on my blog a little later, all the years of building up these superstitions welled up inside of me like one perfect volcano of absolute terror: I had forgotten to sign-off.  “Go Sabres” was no where to be seen.  I hastily corrected the mistake, but seeing “Go Sabres” added to the already published product felt even worse.  I put the computer aside and waited for the game.

The Sabres were crushed.

And that’s a fact.

I’m sure all of you out there have your own odd and wonderful things that you do on game day – and I’d love to hear about them.  Feel free to share below in the comments section.  As for me, well, you better believe I will never again forget to close off a post without typing:

Go Sabres.

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Top Ten 2010-2011 Sabres GIFs


A picture says a thousand words.  A GIF says a thousand words, over, and over, and over again.

A GIF file, for those of you who are unfamiliar with them, is used to display small animations and low-resolution film clips. 350w" sizes="(max-width: 300px) 100vw, 300px" />

Not a GIF.

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