1Posted by Scott Michalak on September 22, 2011 at 8:50 am
What does it take to lead?
Last night, Roy donned the “C” for a preseason skate against the Montreal Canadiens. While most eyes (who had access to video of the game) were watching Christian Ehrhoff’s strong debut, Roy was putting up a hell of a game.
Say what you want. It’s not like we know who says what in the locker room, or on the bench. As fans, we all have our opinions on who is a strong character on and off the ice. But we lack insight.
Here’s what we do know:
The Sabres’ last captain, Craig Rivet, was strong in the locker room – voted as captain by his teammates – but he couldn’t follow through on the ice as a healthy scratch. We knew that Chris Drury was a strident and powerful leader, because that information was made very public. He lead in the locker room. He lead on the ice.
Last night, Roy lead on the ice.
After the first period with the “C” on his sweater, Roy had 1 assist, was a +1, had a .667 faceoff percentage (one of the talking points of the Montreal RDS broadcast team during that intermission), and his 5:45 time on ice trailed only Pominville’s 5:55 for forwards.
Maybe it's time to " #BroneItDown," as Roy said on his Twitter recently, and let the man lead after all.
After the second period, his faceoff percentage dropped to .538 and his points remained the same – though he should have had two more assists as Thomas Vanek and Jason Pominville whiffed on gimme chances. (Those two, ironically, are his likely competition for the captaincy.)
At the final buzzer, he had 1 assist, was a +2, .556 on faceoffs, and enjoyed 17:35 of ice time (second in forwards behind Stafford).
His skating was strong. He was in midseason form. It looked like he’d been doing this for ages – well, he has. He’s a part of the core that has been here for years. He knows the system, the coaches, the players, the fans. He knows it all – how the team has lost in recent years, and what it took to win.
Yes, he's been around this long.
He may not be your favorite Sabre, and he may not be as gritty as Rivet or Drury – but hs motor doesn’t stop. He’s the #1 center on a team looking to win it all, and if last year’s point-per-game pace tells us anything, he’s matured on the ice enough to take this team to grand places.
He has what it takes to lead, folks – he puts it all out there on the ice. He’s not the diving rookie that we shook our heads at anymore. He’s grown up into a leader, an example, and a big piece of a Stanley Cup puzzle.
The captaincy has not been guaranteed by Lindy Ruff, yet. But last night, Derek Roy made a strong, strong case for it.
0Posted by Scott Michalak on September 20, 2011 at 9:23 pm
Georgia is on the minds of Hockey Heaven.
Based in Duluth, Georgia, the “Gwinnett Gladiators” have been named the new ECHL affilate of the Buffalo Sabres. Interestingly enough, the Gladiators became affiliated with the Phoenix Coyotes on August 17, whose AHL team is the Sabres’ recently orphaned Portland Pirates. Buffalo and Phoenix will now embark on a shared affiliation.
“We’re very excited to share in an affiliation with Gwinnett,” Buffalo Sabres Director of Amateur Scouting Kevin Devine said. “We take pride in building our team with competitive players from our minor league affiliates and Gwinnett will provide us with even more opportunity to succeed in developing young talent.”
The Gladiators have fielded 156 call-ups that have involved 112 players over the first eight seasons the team has been based in Gwinnett. The Gladiators have had at least 22 player call-ups to the American Hockey League in each of the past four seasons. During the 2009-10 season, Gwinnett saw a record 28 call-ups to the AHL, while the 23 call-ups last season were the second most in team history.
“Buffalo is an appealing affiliate to us for many reasons,” said (Gladiators President Steve) Chapman. “They have always been an organization that builds within their own system. The new ownership in Buffalo supports the philosophy of building from within. In addition, Wrobo’s (John Wroblewski) relationship with Ron Rolston, the head Coach in Rochester, cemented the connection. We’re looking forward to beginning a strong relationship with the Sabres of developing talented players and upstanding individuals.”
The Gladiators are members of the 20-team ECHL, America’s Premier “AA” Hockey League and play all home games at the 11,355-seat Arena at Gwinnett Center, located just off I-85 on Sugarloaf Parkway in Duluth, GA.
The franchise originated as the Mobile Mysticks in 1995. The team suspended operations in 2002 and moved to Duluth in 2003.They have qualified for the Kelly Cup playoffs for six out of their eight seasons of play as the Gladiators. They were the South Division and Eastern Conference champions in 2006, falling one game to four to the Alaska Aces in the finals.
Looks like we’re not the only team in Hockey Heaven now hungry as Hell for a championship (for them, it’s the “Kelly Cup,” named after Patrick J. Kelly, the league’s first commissioner).
Go get it, boys.
Follow them on the Twitter at @gwtgladiators, and on the Facebook, here. UPDATE: on the Twitter, you can also find Head Coach John Wroblewski at @CoachWrobo and broadcaster/media guy Dustin Bixby at @dustinbixby.
0Posted by Scott Michalak on September 19, 2011 at 8:38 am
Yes, I know, I said that in the title already – but it’s worth typing twice, especially on such a big day.
I'm putting all slugs on notice.
Today is the Sabres first preseason game (against the hated Hurricanes). If you have tickets, meet me somewhere around the corridors near the 312 section and buy me a beer. If you don’t have tickets, well you can still buy me a beer using the “tips jar” on the side bar over there.
Remember it’s also “Slug Appreciation Day” (otherwise known as “Slug Whacking Day” in my house).
Sorry for the poor quality on that video, but you get the point. My hockey stick is polished, and as soon as I hit the publish button, I’m going outside for some mid-September slug hunting. Oh yeah, there’s also that Sabres Store discount thing going on:
Fans are encouraged to wear their old Sabres merchandise featuring the ‘Slug’ logo to Monday’s game to receive a 41% discount – to honor the team’s 41st season – on a matching item featuring the Sabres’ current logo.
Doors to the Sabres Store will open at 10 a.m. and will remain open until the conclusion of Monday night’s game. Fans are cautioned, however, that they will need a ticket to enter the building after 7 p.m. The sale is not a ‘trade-in’ sale, fans will be keeping the old ‘Slug’ items. This is a one-day sale and cannot be combined with any other offers or discounts. Previous sales are excluded and products are available on a first-come, first-serve basis. Rain checks will be issued for sold out items.
Fans wearing their ‘Slug’ attire will also be eligible for several contests running throughout the night. For a chance to win current Sabres jerseys, fans can follow the team on Facebook (www.facebook.com/bufsabres) and Twitter (@SabresDotCom).
0Posted by Scott Michalak on September 18, 2011 at 10:10 pm
Hockey, that is. Oh, and Sabres BINGO! too. If you missed hockey as much as me, then you’ll be all over this game tonight against the hated Carolina frickin’ Hurricanes.
I mean seriously, screw these guys. Get your Twitter feed and your sharpies ready, because the winner of tonight’s BINGO! receives a free tooth from Eric Staal. Lemme’ at him! (Or not – that dude and his murderous eyes are scary.)
See? There's criminal intent in those eyes. And by criminal I mean MURDER.
2Posted by Scott Michalak on September 16, 2011 at 3:10 pm
Look mom, I’m taking on City Hall!
Remember when Terrell Owens came to town, and was awarded the key to the city? He was supposed to catch 10 touchdown passes in return. Well, he caught 55 passes before his one year contract was up, and off he went.
That wasn’t the best decision regarding keys to cities, but since that debacle, someone has arrived in the Queen City who actually deserves the honor – Terry Pegula. I brought this up during the Ted Black chat on Twitter today, and while Ted didn’t respond to the idea (a wise choice to keep his words away from politics) many others did. Seems like folks want to get this done, so let’s give it a try.
There are those that see a key to the city as an empty gesture (especially after the Owens mistake), but I disagree. It’s quite meaningful, especially if it is awarded to Pegula by a legion of fans. From wiki:
The Key to the City is a similar award that is descended from Freedom of the City.It is used in several countries, but is especially popular in the United States.
An ornamental key is presented to esteemed visitors, residents, or others the city wishes to honor. Evoking medieval walled cities whose gates were guarded during the day and locked at night, the key symbolises the freedom of the recipient to enter and leave the city at will as a trusted friend of city residents.
I can’t think of a better way to say “thank you, Terry” than that.
Or at least buy him a six pack of Blue.
And we have a lot to be thankful for. Here’s a list of things he did for us fans that I compiled back in April. In yesterday’s Buffalo News, Bucky Gleason wrote a piece reviewing all that Terry has done for us, for this team, and for this city since then. He was gushing.
He’s a wealthy man who carries himself as if he didn’t have a dime in his pocket, a great fit in outposts like Buffalo. He’s doing deeds that don’t cost a penny but make him a rich man. He has surrounded himself with sharp, creative minds such as team president Ted Black. They’re covering the details, right down to televisions in the bathrooms and cup holders on urinals.
The Sabres for years had problems with soft ice, so he paid for a dehumidifying system that they believe will give them the best surface in the NHL.
He thought the Sabres’ dressing room was outdated, so he committed $6 million toward a new one. Then it was $8 million. Some say it’s nearing $10 million. It will have everything you can imagine, including a fireplace. If this keeps up, it might have a separate fire department.
Ten months have passed since Pegula’s name surfaced as a potential owner, but I still haven’t heard one cross word about the guy. You would think somebody would have pointed out a flaw — any flaw by now. So far, nothing. If anything, more people gush about him as they come to know him.
In an interview yesterday, Pegula was asked how much money he’s poured into this project to build Hockey Heaven and win Lord Stanley. “We’re investing our hearts,” he said.