Archive for February, 2012:

Possible New Jerseys for the Sabres; Ralph Nader Takes on NHL; Jousting to Compete for NHL’s Ratings Dominance of the Lowest Common Denominator

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Sabres/Bruins tonight.

Lucic is the star of hundreds of headlines out there, so I decided to spare you one and instead throw Nader in ours. “Buckle your seat belt,” Ralph has thrown himself head first into the NHL’s concussion debate.

The former presidential candidate and long time champion of Consumer Reports posted an open letter to Gary Bettman, challenging the NHL Commissioner to ban fighting and all head shots from the game.

Your league has created a department of player safety.  That’s well and good.   But a quick question:  How can you continue to allow fighting, in which the primary target is the head of your opponent, and seriously make the argument that you’re doing all you can to make player safety a priority?

You don’t have to be a pioneer in this area Mr. Bettman.  The International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) already bans fighting and all blows to the head.  So does the Ontario Hockey League (OHL), the NCAA, and other hockey organizations.  The Mayo Clinic Sports Medicine Center Ice Hockey Summit recommended prohibiting fighting and all contact to the head at every level of the game, including theNHL, a little more than a year ago.

…According to an analysis of hockey-related concussions written by Dr. Syd Johnson of Dalhousie University, and published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal last year, one study found that up to 25% of all players in junior hockey leagues sustain concussions in any given season.

Nader’s message is of a very serious nature – but it remains to be seen how seriously the NHL will take it. They’ve never shown a desire to become the last of the Big Four US pro sports leagues to ban fighting, but public attention continues to grow and Nader’s letter will only bring more eyes and ears to the discussion.

Meanwhile, the History Channel, not to be out-done by the NHL’s gains through the promotion of blunt force head trauma, has launched a new series – “Full Metal Jousting.” A link to a video describing the “dangers of jousting” can be seen here. In short, some guys are “unconscious in the saddle” before they hit the ground. Worst reality television idea of the year? Yes, especially considering the fact that the UK’s version of this show left one man dead – from his use of “an unsuitable helmet.”

We can be pretty sure that the show is going to be a bloody mess, but is it unfair to compare this show to the NHL? It’s not like anyone ever went “unconscious before hitting the ice,” right? Oh. Wait

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This may be why we left jousting behind in the Middle Ages.

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Blood does sell tickets.

Eventually, it won’t be up to Nader if the NHL dumps fighting or not. It’s up to what fans are willing to pay money to see. The same thing applies to the History Channel’s new jousting idiot-fest. If the ratings are good, the show will go on.

Just remind your kids to keep their gloves on. And to remove all long poles from the house. No matter how much we seem to enjoy watching ourselves brain each other, we never want the kids to grow up to brain each other.

Oh yea, the whole new jersey thing.

It seems the Sabres might be returning to the color black for a new alternate jersey. In a season full of head injuries, losses, and broken coaches, this at least gives us something fun to argue about.

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The Islanders current black 3rds. Truly awful.

Go Sabres.

 

 

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A Crucial Tilt Against The Bruins

Things are looking up, as the Sabres have gone 3-0-1 in their last 4 games, snagging 7 out of a possible 8 points – even without The Mighty Vanek. Now they’re “just” 10 points back in the Eastern Conference.

In other good news, Channel 2 even got to air an MSG game. Is this a harbinger that things have taken a change for the better?

As ScottyMCSS once said, “Healthy changes everything”. And now you’ll never see those Blue Cross/Blue Shield commercials without thinking of him and the rest of us here at BSN. Well, hopefully at least, if the subliminal code I’ve embedded in this website works as planned. </diabolical laughter>

The Sabres are pretty healthy (minus a few scratches) except for the big name of Thomas Vanek, but with the recent points the Sabres are earning, it’s hard not to be at least a little optimistic. Maybe Vanek was the problem?

When you quit chortling, I *was* being sarcastic.

Just like Madonna, The Sabres are making a comeback and looking pretty good doing it.

But hold your horses there, Charlie, as the Boston Bruins are rolling into town on Wednesday. Do I really need to recap our recent history with Boston? In short, The Lucic Incident? (It’s sort of like the String Cheese Incident.) The Sabres spiraled out of control after that game. Blame injuries if you want but that game was a turning point.

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Seems to me that string cheese would never be an "incident" but cause for jubilation and mirth. Tasty, binding mirth.

The recent good vibes we’ve been feeling as of late could come to a crashing halt if the Sabres get destroyed by the Bruins again. And yes, I know that the Sabres took the Bruins to overtime the last time they played, but this is a huge game.

With a win, we the fanbase keep smiling and should get our F8 finger ready to refresh the NHL.com standings page several times a day come late February/March.

With a loss, we’re left reeling and back to being the Bruins’ punching bags. Read: bitch.

With 4 more games left against Boston including the tilt on Wednesday, the Buffalo Sabres have a total of 8 points at stake against them. If we can’t beat a physical team like the Bruins, we may be up the creek without a paddle this year. All hope will be lost. Throw in the towel. Give up the ghost. Insert other euphemism here.

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Let's hope we don't have to wave the white flag. Nothing funny here, just had to toss one more euphemism out there.

I’m not saying the entire season hangs in the balance on Wednesday night but… well, I guess that really is what I’m trying to say.

But maybe I’m just hopped up on green tea and overly prone to worry. Agree/disagree? Is the season lost with a loss to the B’s?

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Phil Kessel: The Most Hated Man in Skates?

It’s Superbowl/Puppybowl Sunday!

Which means that no one is reading hockey posts today.

For that reason, we reach deep into the file cabinet today and present you with a re-post on Phil Kessel. Call me a Sabres traitor if you will, but with cancer survivors Mark Herzlich and Marcus Cannon lining up against each other in the Big Game today, this post fits the day perfectly.

Oh, also, we have breaking news! You likely already know the headline story about the Patriots’ merciless decision to cut Tiquan Underwood just hours before the Superbowl. Not to be outdone by the NFL, Animal Planet has gone an extra step – and has cut Lil’ Tiquan.

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I'm man enough to admit I openly wept when I saw his eyes. Poor lil' guy.

Aaaaaanyway…
From the file cabinet. (Originally Posted on February 7, 2011.)

Most NHL fans know of the trade that sent Phil Kessel from Boston to Toronto.

In Boston, fans already were publicly vilifying him on message boards and Bruins blogs before the trade – but the hate hasn’t stopped since.

 

Don%27t Hate the Game%2C Hate the Player Phil Kessel: The Most Hated Man in Skates?
Fair enough –  the Leafs sent the Bruins a 1st and 2nd round pick in the 2010 draft, plus a 1st round pick in the 2011 draft.  That’s a steep price for a pure goal scorer whose two way game is good enough, but not exactly overwhelming.  Plus, his personality is often described as clumsy, and awkward.

But the hate isn’t necessarily going on just in Toronto.  A Bruins blogger put forth quite an argument to put an end to the booing and hatred of their once prime scoring winger, noting how he was labeled in Bean Town as a “team cancer.

Ouch.

People must have a short memory.  It’s never fair to tell fans to give up their rights to boo and hiss in the direction of a player they feel may have wasted a portion of their season ticket money, but Phil Kessel beat cancer at the age of 19.  In his rookie season.

Those who want to question Kessel’s toughness need to remember how he stood strong and bested one of the most vicious, most terrifying of foes.  Cancer is a life-altering disease – the Big C – which feels like a death sentence when a doctor hands down the news.  It’s the loneliest of battles.  There are no teammates that can help drive it away.

Embryonal testicular cancer.  That is nothing to laugh at.

“My first year in the league I had cancer,” said Kessel. “I got through it pretty easily and I’m healthy now. Obviously, (it was) a tough time in my life but it made me stronger.”

In all, Kessel missed just one month of that rookie season.

With a rookie season like that, consider giving Kessel some credit.  From there, all those draft picks that Toronto gave up put him in a pressure cooker right off the bat – and Toronto is not the kind of town to be kind to its stars on a good day.  Kessel beat the Big C.  He agreed to head into that trade scenario.

How has he responded since?

He had a 30 goal campaign in his 1st year with the Leafs.  This season, year two, he has 19 goals in 52 games.  He was selected for the All Star game, and then was the last player selected in the All Star draft – much to the amusement of the hockey community.

The hockey world erupted with laughter.

He had to put up with a lot of Twitter snark because of that.  And that is already beside the horrific mis-use of the ”team cancer” label, and the other depths that folks will go to berate this man – just check out HF Boards’ thread entitled “Phil Kessel…Ugliest NHL Player?”

NHL fans like to believe their sport carries a certain weight of class with it, that the players and their fans are somehow more traditionally steadfast, and noble, than those from other sports.

Well, in a way, they’re right.  When Kessel was picked last at that fantasy All Star draft, he was awarded a surprise sum of $20,000 for his favorite charity.  The look on Hank Sedin’s face, his head on a swivel, (at the two minute mark) says it all: “we didn’t see this coming.”

Kessel has had a lot of circumstances thrown his way that he never saw coming.  Then again, that is part of what makes an athlete able to compete at such a high level – to be able to be knocked down and get up again, and again, and again and continue to face difficult challenges in the eyes of the public and of one’s peers.  What do you call it?  Oh yea, toughness.

And of that $20k?

The money is heading straight to cancer research, to aid in the goal of someday curing the disease.

Kessel?  He has never asked for anyone to lay off.  He just keeps grinning, at his awkward best, and focuses on scoring goals.

Go Sabres.

And go Puppy Airedale.

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Roger Kochman: The Buffalo Bills’ Worst Injury, Most Forgotten Player, and Ground Zero Hero

Worst injury and most forgotten?

A case can easily be made for it.

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Running with the Nittany Lions.

Roger Kochman exploded onto the AFL scene after a dominating collegiate career with Penn State.  With the Nittany Lions, he was named the “All-American halfback” by US coaches in 1962.  That year, he lead the Lions in yards rushing for the 2nd straight season with 652 yards.  He concluded his collegiate career with 1,485 rushing yards.

From “Penn State Nittany Lions,” by Ken Rappoport:

“Teams from both the NFL and the AFL hoped to sign Kochman.  He finally decided on Buffalo of the AFL.  His pro career came to a premature end, though, with a knee injury.”

“It turned out that Buffalo was a great organization,” said Kochman. “I got hurt and they took very good care of me.  I was really banged up, in the hospital for a very long time.  They stuck by me, they paid all the bills. I was fortunate to have a two year contract, and they honored it.”

It was a devastating blow to the Bills, too.  Kochman had compiled 232 yards in just 5 games as a rookie halfback for Buffalo, carrying the ball for an astonishing 4.9 yards per carry.  (Cookie Gilchrist, by comparison, had rushed for 4.2 yards per carry that year.) Meanwhile, his 46.4 yards per game was surprisingly close to Cookie’s 69.9 – especially considering Kochman’s average of 9.4 carries per game to Gilchrist’s 16.6.

By week 5 of the ’63 season, Buffalo was still looking for a win.  Kochman and Gilchrist split the carries, but the team still came up empty.  Then, in week 6, Kochman stole the spotlight.  His 13 carries garnered  86 yards against the Kansas City Chiefs that day, while Cookie’s 12 lead to just 14 yards.  Gilchrist was essentially relegated as a goal-line buster, as he scored 2 touchdowns in that game, but Kochman had emerged as a talent actually more elite at taking the ball downfield than Cookie himself.

Oh, and in the 3rd quarter of that game, Kochman caught a 3rd quarter 63 yard bomb from Jack Kemp for a 28-19 lead that would prove to be the game winning points.  He excelled at the catch – in his 5 games in the NFL he had 3 receptions for 80 yards, and a touchdown.

He was, indeed, blindingly fast, and appeared to be the Bills’ future, before nearly having his leg ripped off in a tackle by the Houston Oilers’ Cecil Dudley Meredith (who would later coincidentally play 6 seasons for the Bills).

Gilchrist would continue to run for two more years with the Bills, earning AFL all star awards for ’64 and ’65.  But in 1965, Gilchrist was 30 years old, and with the loss of the promising Kochman in ’63, the Bills had no one left to fill Gilchrist’s shoes.

Then, Gilchrist demanded a trade in 1965, and the Bills turned him over to Denver.

In 1966, the aging stalwart Bills roster faced the Kansas City Chiefs for the rights to face the Green Bay Packers in Superbowl I.  From wiki:

The Bills went into the 1966 AFL Championship having already won the game the previous two years. Though the game was to be played in Buffalo, the visiting Kansas City Chiefs were three-point favorites, mainly because of their explosive and innovative offense led by Head Coach Hank Stram. The Bills were a more conventional team with a solid defensive line and a running mindset on offense.

The Bills were without Cookie, but more importantly, they were without Kochman and his young legs for that running game.  With no real young legs for the ground game, in the era where the ground game meant so much, the Bills succumbed to the Chiefs 31-7.

We all know the history of the Bills since then.  But what of Kochman?

Again, from Rappoport’s book:

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Kochman. Verizon. From Bills' draftee, to American Hero.

“Kochman (eventually) became director of  security operations in charge of all the physical security for Verizon across the nation… he was responsible for security when contractors came in to restore communications following the World Trade Center disaster on September 11, 2001.  Kochman manned the perimeter chambers and West Street, the headquarters for emergency management for New York City.”

“‘It took thousands of people,’ said Kochman, ‘to get that building (the hub of communications) back in operation.  We did it, and that was an incredible feat.’”

Kochman concluded:

“I tell the guys on the track team,” (his son’s high school team that he coached), “there are probably a hundred guys who can run just as fast as they can, a hundred guys just as big as they are, just as strong as they are.  And one person is going to separate himself from the pack, because of what they have inside.”

“That’s the heart.  You can’t measure the heart.”

– Roger Kochman, hero of Ground Zero, and perhaps the most forgotten hero of Buffalo Bills history.

Lest we forget.

Go Bills.

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The Jig is Up.

(Another WTF post in honor of this “WTF Sabres?” season.)

No games on Time Warner cable.

And now no free streams on-line, which turned out to be illegal – shocking, I know.

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Don't feel too bad. Folks in China see this when they try to get to the Puppy Bowl.

What to do with our idle hands (the Devil’s workshop) now that we’ve been given the smack-down from TW/MSG, and now the Feds? This seriously has got to be the strangest season of Sabres hockey, ever.

As for me, well, I just saw an ad banner at the top of this website advertising World of Warcraft. It’s free up to level 20.

I got dibs on “Vanek the Destroyer.”

Also placing dibs on “Rayzor the Barbarian.”

I’m done supplicating to MSG, TW, the Sabres, and the Hockey gods to give us our hockey back. Screw dem guys. It’s time to find some Sens fans on the fields of Azgarth, or whatever is out there in WoW. Also prepping the bow for elitist Habs fans, and poisoning my arrows for those drunken orcish hoads of Leafs Nation.

They will all fall before us.

Go Sabres Legion.

 

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