Originally written in February of 2012. Revisit this with us: scroll (or read) to the bottom for today’s (7-25-12) update on this post.
In all things we become acclimated; this is our strength in wartime, and also our weakness. What is a principle, if it alter with circumstance? But what is a man, if he cannot change to meet changed times? And if he can change to meet changed times, is he a man, or several in succession?
Change is an easy out, sometimes. But it can also turn you in the wrong direction.
Much has been said and read about what Darcy Regier should/could do leading up to and at the deadline. The thing is, is it change for change’s sake? Do we want trades for trades’ sake? Are our players truly mediocre? Should we blow up the “Core?”
Remember: Darcy has built up two “Cores.”
The first, and most wildly disputed, is the offensive core – Gaustad, Roy, etc – you know them all quite well by now. His second core is the one we tend to ignore- the defense.
What are those sayings? “You can never have enough defenseman.” “Defense wins championships.” Regier has built up a solid core of prominent and youthful d-man to aid us over the cusp – should we deal any of them now in a panic? Did we learn nothing of defensive depth in 2005-06?
In “Stanley Cup 101,” I
boldly obviously pointed out what it takes to make a championship team in this NHL. You want to trade Miller? Leopold? Regehr? C’mon folks, lost season or not, we’ve got the offensive firepower*, and when healthy, we have the Big D.
Gaustad is currently the hot name on the “rumor charts.” Whatevs. If the Sabres deal, it should be prospects and picks for big, mean bodies. Funny thing is, that is what Goose is: a big, mean, defensive forward who controls the ice. He embodies our system, and backing him up is a Legion of defensemen.
Tell me I’m wrong. Or, call for the gutting of our core – which, as Gaustad shows us, is not centered around a #1 center. It’s all about the D.
Sometimes the gutsiest call at the deadline storm is holding fast.
Or we can adopt change for change’s sake, and become an isolate team, inconsistent, that misses the playoffs year after year, drafts high(er), and fails again. Season after season, and several in succession. Is that what we want?
We all want some modicum of success – but ask yourself – what’s your price, and what will it cost Us?
A lot of people get impatient with the pace of change.
-James Levine (American Musician).
*Goals for: 5th overall in the NHL in 05-06, 1st (of course) in 06-07, 4th in 07-08, 12th in 08-09, 10th in 09-10, 9th in 10-11, 25th! in 11-12. Do you make a deal now to fix this hiccup of the “Core?” Or is patience going to be the best reward? I say, stay. Stay the cause, the “System,” and conquer. Even from where we stand in the standings, we can do this now, and next year.
(All that being said, get Roy out of town. The #Roydazzler ain’t never gonna win anybody a Cup. (Or we can keep him, and he can prove me wrong.)
You wanted change, you got it.
Feels good, doesn’t it?
Maybe it was not so surprising that Gaustad was dealt at the deadline. Beyond any “trade rumors” that had surfaced, he had played to his ceiling here in Buffalo. Goose: great guy, and a faceoff wizard. What was surprising was Darcy Regier getting a 1st round pick in return for a faceoff specialist. Darcy: sneaky guy, trade wizard.
I wrote in the original post here that losing Goose’s toughness would be a mistake – he was a “big, mean, defensive forward who controlas the ice.” Moving him would seem to be counterintuitive to the Sabres direction of becoming bigger and meaner, only Regier was able to use the 1st rounder return to snag Zemgus Girgensons in the draft. Girgensons is big, mean(er), and is going to bring a great defensive game to the FNC. Meanwhile, he will also score goals.
The Sabres added plenty of other big bodies through the UFA process this summer, but the upgrade of Girgensons over Gaustad is change I can live with – a long term upgrade to a position of need.
As for Roy, well, he’s out. Steve Ott is in. What the Sabres lost in Roy’s offensive production will not be matched by Ott, but he will put up enough points while he tandems with Pat Kaleta to be a part of what has suddenly become one of the scarier 3rd lines in the Northeast. I’m looking forward to seeing how many powerplays these two guys earn the blue and gold this coming season. That will help balance out some of that lost Roy offense, but frankly, a healthy Ennis will do the same. Add in the talents of Grigorenko at the draft, and we’ve got another long term upgrade to a position of need. The Sabres are tougher with Ott, and more talented with Grigorenko and Ennis (and let’s not forget Hodgson).
So what’s next?
The Sabres certainly stuck to my hopeful approach by keeping their locker rooms in Buffalo and Rochester overflowing with defensemen. Hell, they added even more in UFA.
This is not to say that all of our guys on the blueline are going to still be here for game 1 of 82. This depth gives Regier two major advantages:
- Depth of defense, as detailed above, is so very important along the long 82 game schedule and into the playoffs.
- Increased clout in the trade market.
The Sabres did not land a blockbuster UFA, but that might be by design – the best leverage Regier has is in the trade market. Besides not having to overpay (and convince) an UFA to come to Buffalo, the Sabres can move assets for assets. Buffalo has 10 (John Scott can play defense) bodies competing for spots on the roster. Add in just two prospects – Pysyk and McNabb, and that’s enough bodies for two NHL rosters.
There are some great players, both at the veteran and prospect stages of their careers, that give the Sabres a lot of power in the trade market. It would make a lot of sense to use some pieces of this stockpile to improve the team elsewhere.
And there’s no rush. October is a long way away.
Meanwhile, our change so far is no change away from the Sabres’ short and long term plans. They’re becoming bigger, meaner, and increasing the talent level at both ends of the rink. Credit where credit is due: nothing has happened simply for the sake of change. No one has panicked at the FNC. The Sabres have continued to build patiently, as promised.
We’ll see what the rest of the offseason delivers, if anything.
So far, this is change I can live with.
It’s a pretty great feeling when your favorite sports teams seem to be making all the right moves. As Buffalo sports fans we’ve certainly dealt with a lot of stomach-roiling management over the years and it’s nice to feel like things are finally going well for both the Sabres and the Bills management-wise.
As for the Bills we had to put up with some horrible coaching ever since the Marv Levy days. Wade Phillips, Gregg Williams, Mike Mularkey, Dick Jauron and a brief look at Perry Fewell. Fewell didn’t have enough tenure for us to know much about him but the rest … ugh.
The “Dick Jauron Face”. Passion-inspiring it is not. We had to put up with THREE YEARS of this.
Chan Gailey is such a breath of fresh air form those guys – especially from Dick Jauron. It’s ridiculous to think back on the fact that he fired his offensive coordinator and had Alex Van Pelt install a no-huddle offense mere weeks from the start of the regular season. “Hey build me an awesome offense quickly. It’s easy, right? Hey, you’ve got Trent Edwards so don’t complain.” Er, yeah.
Mismanagement. We’d dealt with it for over a decade.
Now the Sabres have fans thinking that it’s possible they could pick up any player in the NHL. Rick Nash? Certainly possible. One source said they had $100 million offers in on both Parise and Suter. They’re willing to spend money and do anything – absolutely ANYTHING – that is necessary to make the team better.
The Bills got Mario freaking Williams to come to Buffalo. They’re signing great talent at every position and appear to be on the cusp of better-than-average-ness (I won’t say greatness because it’s been too damn long since we could say that and I don’t want to jinx it.)
There’s a disturbance in the force. Great players are being attracted to Western New York. Maybe it’s the prevalence of chicken wings across the country. Perhaps it’s a decades-long plot finally coming to fruition where scientists figured out a way to inject hot sauce with a mind-controlling substance that calls atheletes home to the wing mecca that is Buffalo.
Whatever the reason for it, it’s awesome. The Bills and Sabres may not reach their expectations this season but it’s still a great feeling to know that the organizations are willing to do the right things. That they’re willing to spend money and be aggressive. That they don’t just follow someone else’s script, but instead blaze trails with their own gameplans.
Another thought is that I used to give bad coaches the benefit of the doubt. After a year of guys like Williams/Mularkey/Jauron I’m usually like, “chill people, let’s give them a couple of years and see what they can do when they’ve established their system”. I used to think that 3 years was what it took for a new coaching regime to get their things going.
That’s bull. A new coach’s presence should be felt immediately. The team might not start winning right away, but you should be able to see their affect on the team. We saw that early on with Chan Gailey. He was willing to switch from Trent Edwards to Fitzpatrick within weeks of the regular season starting. He recognized that Edwards’ brain didn’t work at the game speed required at the NFL level while Fitzy’s did. Chan pulled the trigger and reversed his decision while other coaches (*couch*Jauron*cough*) just stay stuck in the mire of the decision they made in the past.
Thank goodness for Chan, Nix, Lindy, Darcy and perhaps most of all the Pegula clan. They may not make ALL the right moves, but you can’t be perfect. At least they’re sticking to their blueprint for success and being unabashedly aggressive about it. I love it. And it bodes well for an exciting 2012-2013 for both franchises.
Not the best weekend to be a Buffalo sports fan.
Buffalonians were dealt the following TKO in less than 24 hours:
The Gut Punch
The Bills decided that 1950’s economics still make sense when building or maintaining a brand in the 21st century, as they retained the right to blackout television coverage if the fans fail to fill every seat in Ralph Wilson Stadium.
Here’s a study by leading economists on why this is stupid.
Here’s what Forbes Magazine had to say on why this is stupid.
Meanwhile, a WGR poll shows that 29% of Bills fans say “it (the Bills’ stance) doesn’t bother me either way.” Here’s a run-down on what Stockholm syndrome is, which is stupid.
So, what is the difference between a 100% sellout and an 85% sellout at Ralph Wilson Stadium? $90 grand. That’s about 4 Hyundai Elantras. Yea, that loss would really sink the Bills’ ship. Stupid.
You may have noticed that I just had to type “Ralph Wilson Stadium.” We’re arguing over $90k/game while Ralph Wilson refuses to sell naming rights to the stadium. Here’s a link to what other team owners are making based on naming rights. Stupid.
And here’s Steve Ott showing you how I feel about Ralph Wilson right now.
The Glancing Blow
Sergei Fedorov, GM of CSKA Moscow (the crap-assed KHL team which I will not waste my time linking to) has made an enormous offer to Mikhail Grigorenko. I’d be surprised if Grigs abandoned all of his work and progress towards a very successful and very lucrative NHL life in Pegulaville. Plus, the new rookie class of Sabres SEALs would kick his ass.
Then again, he hasn’t signed yet. From “Sports.ru” (translated via Google Translate):
Sergei Fedorov: “Grigorenko guaranteed a place in the team of CSKA with very good financial condition”
The general manager of CSKA Sergei Fedorov said that CSKA are going to rely on young players, adding that it would very much like to see in the striker Mikhail Grigorenko.
– What are your plans for the young players? How can they prove themselves in the company of such masters as Alexander Radulov?
– According to the regulations in this part of four hockey player gaming. But we have to produce on the ice at least two. If we have two worthy candidates, of course, they will play. We would very much like to have, for example, Mikhail Grigorenko. You can even bring a few names, places to eat. And without them, the application will be very difficult to apply the match. In general, the famous CSKA and will be famous for talented youth.
– And you have a decent selection of this year.
– It is. Of course, it is necessary to make tough decisions, competition is very high – we tried this. I gave the example of Grigorenko, because he really guaranteed a place in the team of CSKA with some very good financial condition. But our young people want to try overseas. Therefore, with such players as Grigorenko, it is difficult to negotiate. But we still try – quoted Fyodorov Sportbox.ru.
Recall that Grigorenko was selected “Buffalo” in 2012 NHL Entry Draft by the 12th number.
This afternoon, the old Sega Genesis is coming out of the attic. Line changes will be set to off. Buffalo versus Detroit. Line of Ray-Sweeney-May, Donnelly and Sutton will be dressed for the Sabres. Fedorov goin’ DOWN.
Fedorov’s offer to Grigorenko might actually garner a little more leverage if the NHL CBA talks endanger the NHL season. Right now, it’s at least in danger of being postponed. Link.
Screw the smelling salts. This is a beer breakfast kind of day in the B-lo.
Well, we did get news of the Girgensons signing, which is great news for the short and long term future of the Amerks and Sabres. We also were awarded the news of the French Connection Statue that will be built at the FNC – in the newly named “Alumni Plaza.” Fans can buy a brick for a hundred bucks, and get their name inscribed to join the legacy.
Hell, that’s where some Buffalo sports fans might find relief from all the bad news. Anyone who just cancelled plans to buy a ticket to a Bills game this season can redirect that money towards a Sabres brick.
Buffalo Sabres Nation does not, in any way, condone throwing bricks through Ralph Wilson’s windows. This is just a stupid metaphor. For a stupid day.
Enjoy the rest of the weekend, everybody.
And god bless the fans.
OK, technically this is a Stars or Oilers GIF.
But Steve Ott is blue and gold now, so it’s time to start digging into his colorful NHL background.
Today’s Sabres GIF features Sam Gagner trying to climb his way up into the stands to avoid being hit by Otter. Bad decision. It doesn’t start well and it ends worse. Unless there is room for “downward facing dog*” in hockey. And there isn’t.
Glorious. Who’s up for a Kaleta-Gerbe-Ott line? Kaleta-McCormick-Ott? Kaleta-Ott-and John freakin’ 6′ 8″ Scott? Throw in Myers and Regehr on the blueline for a faceoff.
To coin a phrase: the “Annihilation Line.”
Welcome to “Hockey Heaven,” Kevin Porter.
Or perhaps more fittingly, welcome to the Sabres’ self-proclaimed “Hockey University” of Rochester. Indeed, Porter has struggled mightily to find success at the NHL level. Here’s a blow-by-blow account of how Adrian Dater of the Denver Post summed up his 2011-12 performance:
It’s not the fun part of my job, ripping on a guy. Kevin Porter was/is a nice guy.
Ouch. That was his lede for this analysis. Moving on:
But he was a D player for the Avs this year. (BSN Note: some of you haven’t gotten it. The “D” in the title up there comes into play now. It’s never funny when I have to explain it. Got it? OK, resume reading.) His stats: 35 games played, three goals, four assists, -2.
The Avs have to stop believing that players like Porter are going to do anything for them. He’s the kind of player who scores goals in meaningless games, and can fool you. In a game that counts in the NHL, if he’s a regular player for you, you’re going to lose.
He scored 14 goals for the Avs in 2010-11, but it was somewhat of a mirage. A really bad team with a guy who scored 14 goals – that and $3.50 will get you a grande non-fat latte at Starbucks.
GM Greg Sherman can’t keep making mistakes like this. He signed Porter to a new deal, when everyone who saw him play knew he wasn’t a guy you’re going to win with at the NHL level. He was a good college player (a Hobey Baker winner in fact), but that didn’t translate to the NHL in his case. And everybody who knows the game knew that last year.
It’s just a fact of life: sometimes you’re just not good enough for the next level. It’s not an indictment of Porter’s character that he’s one of those guys. It’s just a fact.
EVERYONE BACK OFF AND GIVE THE KID SOME ROOM TO BREATHE. Dang, Dater, you really brutalized this poor guy. Honestly, it’s pretty surprising that this is what has become of a prospect who once carried a very impressive resume on Wiki:
In his 2004–05 freshman season with the Wolverines, Porter scored 11 goals in 39 games to finish with 24 points, second among Wolverine rookies to fellow USNTDP product and Coyotes draft pick, Chad Kolarik. Establishing his scoring touch as a sophomore with 38 points in 39 games, Kevin returned as a junior to lead the Wolverines with 24 goals and place second among points with 58 to earn player of the Month award (November) and nomination to the CCHA Second All-Star Team.
With the departure of prolific Michigan scorer T.J. Hensick, Porter returned to captain the Wolverines for his senior year in 2007–08. For the fourth consecutive season Porter improved his season totals posting 33 goals and 63 points in 43 games to lead the U of M and place second only to Nathan Gerbe in the NCAA. He set a NCAA Tournament record with four goals in the East Regional Semi-Final against Niagara, as he captained the Wolverines to the Frozen four for the first time since 2003. Named as the University of Michigan Male sports person of the Year, Porter’s standout season was also awarded with selection to the CCHA First All-Star Team, CCHA Player of the Year and the NCAA West First All-American Team to culminate in winning the Hobey Baker Award as the top collegiate player in the NCAA.
It’s not for me to say what happened to Porter since he beat out the Sabres’ own Nathan Gerbe and Ryan Jones (who now skates with the Edmonton Oilers) to win the Hobey Baker. There’s gotta’ be some good hockey left in this now 26-year old. It will likely be under the tutelage of Rochester Americans Coach Ron Rolston to figure that all out.
If he earned himself a D, I suppose “Hockey University” is the best place for him. In the end, who knows, maybe he’ll be able to bring his A game to the NHL level.
This is your 2nd chance, Kevin. Study hard. We’re all rooting for you.
And nuts to you, Adrian Dater. You don’t have Kevin Porter to kick around anymore.
And go Porter.
UPDATE: Let’s return to one of Dater’s “insights” for a moment.
He’s the kind of player who scores goals in meaningless games, and can fool you. …He scored 14 goals for the Avs in 2010-11, but it was somewhat of a mirage. A really bad team with a guy who scored 14 goals – that and $3.50 will get you a grande non-fat latte at Starbucks.
Interesting. I wonder which regular season games Dater designates as “meaningless.” Most hockey minds would be quick to rebuke anyone who would claim that any of those 82 regular season games are meaningless. And about that whole “mirage” thing – did his 14 goals merit any value at all?
Well, it turns out that of those 14 goals that he netted in the 2010-11 season, 3 of them were game winners, and one of those was in overtime. 21% of his goals – game winners.
Meaningless? I’d like to hear Drater’s definition of that word. Last I checked, that definition doesn’t include the word “clutch.”
Again: nuts to you, Dater.