Archive for August, 2011:

Pominville for Iginla Rumors Must Die

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I get it.

It’s still August – the hockey wasteland. A time when every and any tidbit of information, no matter how credible (or not) is worked over on the interwebs and message boards by fans desperate for any kind of puck buzz.

I’ve had a few fans ask me if this “Pominville for Iginla” rumor has any truth behind it. Yikes. We’ve gone from desperate to crazy.

iginla 300x217 Pominville for Iginla Rumors Must Die

Ain't no way Ales Kotalik is giving up his #12 for THIS guy (again).

Admittedly, I’ve been saying for years that Iginla embodies the perfect player for the Blue and Gold: he’s fast, talented, gritty, a force on the ice and in the locker room. He’s the kind of player that can change everything – in our dreams.

First off, there’s that nagging salary cap problem. Darcy Regier has already spent somewhere upwards of 30 billion dollars over the salary cap. Iggy has a cap hit of $7mil until the end of the 2012-13 season. Pommers’ cap hit isn’t exactly low, but at $5.3mil, well you do the math.

The only way this trade goes down is if Calgary takes on a ton of salary (say, Ales Kotalik – hey that would solve the #12 issue [and yes I know AlKo has a NMC]). This deal is not just implausible, it’s impossible. You can all go ahead and add a third team to the mix to try and fix the money issues. I certainly am not wasting my time.

Let’s also not forget:

  • Pominville is one of our more consistent scorers.
  • Iginla has that whole age thing working against him.
  • Iginla doesn’t play center.
  • The Sabres need to re-sign Tyler Myers and Tyler Ennis at the end of this season. They’ll need some serious cash money for that.

Of course, if the Sabres do somehow land Iginla, I’ll be the first in line to pony up for his jersey. Ya – I’ll see all of you other Iggy fans in that line, in some alternate universe somewhere.

September can’t come soon enough. One more day.

Go Sabres.

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Hockey Heaven: Big Things in the Works, including a Sabres Ticket Contest

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As if the 2011-12 NHL season can’t start soon enough already…

We recently had a chance to catch up with one of our wonderful sponsors, “Hockey Heaven,” (store716), to see how their offseason has been going. It turns out they’ve been up to a lot – including a ticket giveaway (more on that later). Settle into your old Aud seat and enjoy our little Q&A – it looks like we’re in for quite a ride on and off the ice this year.

BSN:  Ted Black said he wants Buffalo to be known as “Hockey Heaven” to the 800 players in the NHL. What’s your vision for Hockey Heaven?

Ultimately, we want the world to recognize Buffalo as Hockey Heaven. We want to hear Doc Emrick open up the NBC telecast from Buffalo with “Welcome to Hockey Heaven.”  Heck, we want to hear a Bills game telecast open with “Welcome to Hockey Heaven.” We want to wake up some day and hear Al Roker doing his Today Show weather report mentioning that “there’ll be a little bit of snow over there in Hockey Heaven for our friends in Buffalo.” And we want the whole town to bring Hockey Heaven to life in their own way… and have fun with it.

Wouldn’t it be awesome to see people dressed up as Hockey Heaven inspired biblical characters at the F’N Center?  Can’t you see a guy dressed as Moses carrying a replica Stanley Cup and a sign with the 10 Commandments of Hockey? Or better yet, a group of Buffalo Hockey Angels complete with halos and wings?

mosescup 300x180 Hockey Heaven: Big Things in the Works, including a Sabres Ticket Contest

Yes, it would be awesome. What a playoff beard.

BSN: How have your charitable efforts been going over the summer?

Well we knew right away that if we were going to be bold enough to assume any type of stewardship for Buffalo’s “Hockey Heaven” moniker, acting “Heavenly” had to be a major focus long the way.

We’ve been lucky enough to make a little money selling Hockey Heaven t-shirts and we’ve been able to turn that around and help out a few great organizations and causes. We’ve been able to donate shirts to a bunch of local family fundraisers as such.

We made a nice donation to Buffalo Hearing & Speech from participating at their BrewFest event and we’ll be supporting the Huntington’s Disease Society next month. We’re also supporting youth hockey in Buffalo.  We’ll be sponsoring the Backyard Classic hockey tournament (backyardclassic.weebly.com/sponsors.html) which supports Hasek’s Heroes and The Assist Foundation (facebook.com/pages/The-Assist-Foundation/111412372249952) which helps underprivileged kids with hockey expenses.

On top of that… we absolutely LOVE giving back to the Hockey Heaven Faithful!  Last year we gave away a bunch of shirts, 3 pairs of Sabres tickets… and even had a few $50 cash prizes for photo contests.

BSN: Wow. What’s next?

We just released the Pegula “Like” tee that’s gotten a pretty great response already. We’ve already got verses and designs lined up for RJ, Myers, Ennis and Regher that we’ll be releasing in the coming weeks.

We’ll be adding some kids sizes, sweatshirts, winter hats and maybe even a few other things. (and we’re always up for more ideas).

As for contests, We may make the #FreeTeeFriday a tradition and we’ll have a pretty sweet ticket contest to announce soon. (Anyone need 200 Level seats to the opener?)

As if all of that wasn’t enough, Hockey Heaven let us know about a couple choice events that they’ve also got in the works:

We’re looking into organizing fun “marathon skating” fundraiser event this winter. We’re also in discussions with a major corporate sponsor to organize “Hockey Heaven Night” viewing parties for every Sabres away game this season.

Yep. Like I said at the top – can we start the season already or what?

We’ll keep you updated on Hockey Heaven’s efforts here on BSN. With all that Pegula has done, and with all that local businesses such as Hockey Heaven are now doing, this coming season looks to be one hell cloud 9 of a time.

Go Sabres.

 

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Sabres: Who will score 20 in 2011-12, and Don Cherry’s Record

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Don Cherry is loud.

And his suits are louder.

Most hockey fans these days think of “Grapes” for his brash commentary in “Coach’s Corner” between periods during “Hockey Night in Canada,” and for his unique… style.

DonCCat 300x225 Sabres: Who will score 20 in 2011 12, and Don Cherrys Record
Don Cherry appears dressed normally, on an analog TV, in front of a cat. (Photo from some strange alternate universe somewhere, also known as Icanhascheezburger.com)

Many young fans do not know that Cherry was once a coach in Boston, and holds onto a very precious coaching record – one that may never be broken. In the 1977–78 season, Cherry got 11 of his Bruins players to net 20 goals or more.

Talk about rolling the lines.

Rolling the lines is something Lindy Ruff loves to do, and the emergence of players such as Tyler Ennis and Nathan Gerbe, along with the addition of Ville Leino, should give him plenty of scoring lines to juggle. How many players of the Blue and Gold could score 20 or more this season? Is it possible for the 2011-12 Sabres to challenge Cherry’s record, 34 years after it was set in stone?

GerbeMyersSameSize 246x300 Sabres: Who will score 20 in 2011 12, and Don Cherrys Record

Myers had a very close look at Gerbe's emergence last season.

For the record, the answer to this question, every season, is “no,” but it is always fun to count how many of our boys that could reach Number Twenty. Remember, despite only posting four 20 goal scorers last season, the Sabres scored an Eastern Conference 4th-best 245 goals (only 1 behind Boston’s 246, 2 behind Tampa’s 247, a big ol’ 14 behind Philly). This season Buffalo’s young guns and depth of scoring should only improve.

Let’s see if we can put “Grapes” on notice. Here’s our candidates for 20 goals in 2011-12:

1. Thomas Vanek – TV has never scored less than 25 goals in a season in his entire career. Moving on.

2. Drew Stafford – after a breakout campaign that saw him terrorize the NHL (actually, mainly the Bruins) with 31 goals in only 62 games, it would be shocking if Stafford failed to reach at least 20 this season.

3. Jason Pominville – While he hasn’t hit 30 goals since the 2006-07 season, he also hasn’t failed to hit 20 in a season since. A lingering tendon injury may slow him down in the pre-season, but don’t expect one of the Sabres’ most consistent scorers to fail to reach the 20 goal plateau for his 6th consecutive season.

4. Tyler Ennis – Besides Vanek, Stafford, and Pommers, this offensive dynamo was the 4th member of the 20 goal club last season – his rookie season the NHL. The 2009-10 AHL rookie of the year, Ennis made his transition to the NHL seamlessly. Defenses and statisticians will be watching out for this guy for years to come.

5. Nathan Gerbe – After a slow start, the former AHL rookie of the year of 2008-09  finally managed to break out of a transitionary slump to the NHL, registering 16 goals in 64 contests this past season.

6. Derek Roy – With only 10 goals to his name last year in a season cut very short by injury (35 games), Roy only needs to stay healthy to hit 20. He hadn’t otherwise failed the marker since the 2005-06 campaign.

7. Brad Boyes – a lack of depth at center could spell doom for our 7th selection on this list, as his goal scoring for the Blue and Gold plummeted after he was shifted from wing to center in the 2011 playoffs. If Lindy Ruff can keep him on the wing, 20 goals is certainly achieveable with enough ice time and time on the power play.

8. Ville Leino – the ultimate wildcard, Leino enters the 2011-12 lineup as not only a guy who can score 20 goals, but can help every other player before him on this list reach the same. The Sabres have a lot riding on this guy.

It’s time to be frank. Those are the only real candidates currently on the roster that should hit 20 this season, but there are a few more darkhorses:

1. Luke Adam – The AHL rookie of the year for the 2010-11 season scored 3 times in 19 games with the big club last year. Adam must first earn a roster spot with the Sabres in training camp and the pre-season, but if he makes it, he’ll be throwing a lot of pucks at the net. From there, he’ll have to storm out of the gate more like Ennis and less like Gerbe did as rookies – otherwise it’s unlikely he’ll earn enough ice time to hit the back of the net 20 times.

2. Jochen Hecht – the center/left winger from Mannheim, West Germany, has hovered around the 20 goal mark for most of his career. Hecht has only hit 20 goals twice – albeit recently – in the 2007-08 (22 goals) and 2009-10 (21 goals) seasons. He was able to put in 12 goals in 67 games last season. Anything from 10-20 is possible with this guy.

3. Tyler Myers – 11 goals as a rookie, and then 10 as a sophomore – the sky is the limit for Myers. The addition of veteran blueliners Robyn Regehr and Christian Ehrhoff will only make him better, but reaching 20 goals is still a reach.

4. Christian Ehrhoff – the Buffalo power play is going to live and die on the heels of its new quarterback. Ehrhoff should help the Sabres’ special teams flourish, a point that made it tempting to keep him out of the “darkhorse” category. However, with 14 goals in 2009-10 and 2010-11 – with a very strong Vancouver team – it’s hard to see him scoring any more than that in Buffalo.

It looks like Grapes won’t be sweating over Buffalo taking his precious record this season.

FingerGuns Sabres: Who will score 20 in 2011 12, and Don Cherrys Record

"DAMN STRAIGHT!"

Still, we’ve just listed 12 players here that are going to be serious scoring threats in the upcoming season – and we didn’t even consider a re-emergence of Patrick Kaleta, or an unlikely full NHL season for Zack Kassian. What this fun little list really shows us is the dangerous scoring depth that the Sabres have for the upcoming year.

4th in scoring in the East last year, and oh-so-close to 2nd? It’s not so dumb to imagine the Sabres challenging for the top scoring spot in the East this time around.

Stay healthy, boys. We’re in for a wild time.

Go Sabres.

 

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For Tim Connolly, the Pressure is Greater than Ever in Toronto

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Pressure.

Tim Connolly was always under heavy pressure here in Buffalo, be it from the fans who expected more from him and his big contract, the media that constantly clubbed his concussed conscience with “overpaid, underperforming” wallops, or be it from having to constantly prove to himself and everyone else that he wouldn’t break coming off his latest injury.

Sadly, but fittingly, his long tenure in Buffalo ended with all three. He exited the playoffs, injured, after only registering 2 helpers in 6 games. He went without a goal in the playoffs since the 2005-2006 season. The media that criticized him for this was smugly rewarded. While teammate Ryan Miller was left behind in Buffalo to staunchly defend Connolly from all the criticism - calling at least the media part of it a “vendetta,” Tim slipped out of town.

timmypassthemike 300x223 For Tim Connolly, the Pressure is Greater than Ever in Toronto

In Toronto, Tim Connolly can expect to see a few (dozen) more microphones in the locker room after games.

But is the pressure over for him now? Not a chance. Now in Toronto, one of the biggest pressure-cookers in the league, he’s really going to be surrounded by strident voices and public opinion for every mistake he makes, and each injury he takes.

At least his steady diet of smack from the fans and media in Buffalo gave him a little crash course for it.

For Connolly, the pressure in a Leafs uniform – one that he still has yet to wear in a game – is already on, and it’s on big time. That article I just sourced (from the Globe and Mail) above citing Miller’s defense of Connolly lasted all but two short paragraphs before it started listing the Toronto Sun’s key words to describe Connolly’s play:

 The latest criticism of Connolly, the NHL club’s only major free-agent signing this year, was published in the Toronto Sun this week, suggesting his reputation amongst “hockey people” consists of being “difficult,” a “loner,” a “spoiled brat” and “not a team player.”

Reputation aside, here’s a run-down on what Tim is expected to accomplish in his new home up the Queen Elizabeth Way. A fresh look, from Fox Sports:

Connolly is most likely the next first-line center under the microscope in Toronto, courtesy of a two-year, $9.5 million contract he signed in July. His game will be dissected like his body has been examined. Which, considering how often virtually every inch of his 6-foot-1 frame has been broken, torn or smashed, is a lot.

“I’m just looking forward to my time in Toronto, getting ready for that,” he said about shaking his injury jinx. “That’s what I’m thinking about now. I think the fan support there, it’s just a hockey town. I think it will be just an exciting experience for me.”

For a player whose game is so flashy, Connolly hopes to color Toronto in more subtle hues like penalty killing and fundamentals.

A brief report from the Sporting News also (and mainly) cites that injury history:

Tim Connolly, signed to center the team’s first line in the offseason, says he’s ready to face the challenge of playing in Toronto — and hopes to stay healthy, something that hasn’t been easy for him during his eight seasons with the Buffalo Sabres, in the process.

“I’m just looking forward to my time in Toronto, getting ready for that,” Connolly, 30, and known for his skilled play, told NHL.com. “That’s what I’m thinking about now. I think the fan support there, it’s just a hockey town. I think it will be just an exciting experience for me.”

Last season, Connolly had 42 points in 68 games; two seasons ago, he put up 17 goals and 65 points in 73 contests.

In the three seasons that came before that, though, Connolly played 98 games total and developed his injury-prone reputation. Ultimately, that played a role in his exit from Buffalo; the team opted not to re-sign him.

Even the caption under the photo the Sporting News used read “Tim Connolly has been relatively healthy for two seasons.” There is relatively no escape from this history in these articles.

From the Toronto Sun, a newer article noted that some other responsibilities were now on Tim’s shoulders with the Leafs:

Tim Connolly knows he will have to take on a more veteran role this season. Connolly is 30 years old, a more experienced player on the young Leafs squad. “I can bring my experience” he said in an interview. It appears he has changed his attitude since being much criticized by the Buffalo media. He will still need to improve his faceoffs, which hovered at 48% last season.

Once more from the Toronto Sun:

The Maple Leafs signed Tim Connolly and acquired John-Michael Liles this summer for a number of reasons, and there’s the hope that each will provide some punch to the Toronto power play.

In Connolly and Liles, the Leafs have the potential to improve when they’re up a man or two. But the players have to make it happen.

Here’s a list of what Toronto is concerned about so far:

  1. His age
  2. Face-offs
  3. Making the powerplay work
  4. “Fundamentals”
  5. Bolstering the penalty kill
  6. Providing veteran leadership
  7. Staying healthy

Did I miss anything? Oh yea, the whoe “spoiled brat/not a team player” thing.

This upcoming season is a huge one for Connolly, and I think most fans in WNY wish him well (except, of course, during Sabres/Leafs match-ups).

Still, if the Toronto media has told him anything already, it’s that he better provide a boost to every area of the Leafs organization, or he’ll have a lot of microphones to answer questions into.

Pressure? Wow.

Good luck, Timmy.

Go Sabres.

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Hockey Heaven: “One Inch” (Video)

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Today’s feature presentation:

“One Inch” is the latest installment in a series of videos produced by “Hockey Heaven,” (one of our sponsors) who has done an outstanding job in keeping Sabres fans entertained over the summer.

300 Hockey Heaven: One Inch (Video)

And they have this sweet banner for sale.

Click play and enjoy.

 

You can check out more of their videos by checking our their Youtube channel here. Also, you can check out their store to see the new Bills tees that they’ve released (many of which have already sold out).

Good stuff.

Good times.

Go Sabres.

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