World Cup Weekend!

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We apologize for the lack of posts this weekend.

But there is something huge going on here.

The United States Women’s National Team is going to battle Japan for the World Cup today. This is a big deal, whether you like soccer or not.

HopeFreakinSolo 300x199 World Cup Weekend!

We have Hope on our side.

That’s Hope Solo – our all-world keeper. The nation is falling in love with her, as well as with her mates on the field. A quick Twitter guide:

Check ‘em out, folks. You’ll be pleased with their WNY connections.

And don’t forget, we have our own mighty pitch here in Buffalo – FC Buffalo, to be precise.

Support the girls. Support your local team. This is a big thing – most of our kids play this sport, and most of us grew up playing it, too. It’s about time we all clamored around the TV for a taste of the beautiful game.

And a shot at Glory.

Go USWNT.

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The Pominville Injury

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Folks are worried about the population of Pominville.

At least, my Twitter account says so. I keep getting a messages inquiring on the status on Pominville since he left the ice, and the 2010-11 season, on this play.

Terrible. I prefer to remember Jason’s 2010-11 campaign with this play. Smart. Nose for the net.

PommersInBetterDays 300x199 The Pominville Injury

Game 5: before the injury.

Trust me, folks, I would love to know exactly how he is doing right now. But hey – I don’t have the credentials to access him on his Barcalounger.

barcalounger 220x300 The Pominville Injury

Thank god for instructions.

Still, due to the inquiries on his status, I did my best to find out what is going on with Pommers. I can’t get in the training/Barcalounging room, but Abby Corsun Sims (MS, PT) of “AthletiSense.com” filled me in on what to expect regarding his recovery.

Her Hockey Credentials:

I took care of Ron Duguay, (then of the NYRangers) when he suffered (a similar) injury in the very early 80’s. His was only partially cut through, but the injury was significant. Unbelievable as it sounds, they just sewed Ron up in the locker-room!

What to expect:

Recovery from surgery to repair takes the timeframe you mentioned for a variety of reasons.  The initial 6-8 weeks is solely to allow for a healing response.

And the minutia you might like to know:

The tissue has to mend and the repair must be protected. The patient is casted in a position that puts the tendon on a mild stretch with the ankle essentially in a neutral position.  Crutches are used to ambulate, and the limb is non-weightbearing.  Once the cast comes off, a walking boot (CAM walker) is used and weightbearing is gradually restored. Of course, there is significant muscle atrophy & weakness in the lower leg to address with a strengthening program. Patients should have been performing some non- weightbearing exercises for muscles of the hip/thigh from the outset to prevent unnecessary reconditioning.

Another major goal of rehab is to restore the range of motion in the foot and ankle. The presence of swelling and prolonged positioning in the cast and boot causes loss of mobility that must be addressed.

The surgery that was performed to repair the tendon, along with the protracted period when it was kept from stretching,  also causes it to shorten. Another focus of treatment is to restore flexibility. Additionally, balance will be affected and requires attention.

If a tendon is severely frayed or retracted (it kind of shrinks from both sides after being completely ruptured), approximating the ends during a repair can cause it to be even shorter.  The clean cut likely with Pominville’s injury probably makes this less of an issue , especially if his surgery was performed promptly.

Lastly, movement must be incorporated into the rehab program. Agility and power must be addressed.

Complications can occur if the repair is improperly done, if it is stressed too soon , if the rehab  program progresses too quickly or if the integrity of the tissue is an issue.  If ankle mobility is not sufficiently restored it will limit flexibility of the calf/Achilles.

Most Achilles repairs do very well, and hopefully, Pominville will be good to go for next season.

Every injury of this nature, of course, is different, and offers doctors, patients, and fans scores of reasons to be frustrated and impatient regarding recovery time. Still, all we can do is give it time, and send Pommers some good vibes.

In the meantime, the best news is no news. So far so good.

Go Jason.

Go Sabres.

 

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The “Hockey Heaven” Contest: Introducing Kelly

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Time to wrap things up.

Again, we had a lot of great entries here, folks. Thanks to all who participated in our “What ‘Hockey Heaven’ Means to Me” contest. Our second winner (no particular order) is Kelly Heft, a die-hard Sabres fan from the day she was born. Take it away, Kelly!

I was born during the game that put the Sabres in their first Stanley Cup Final. Legend has it my dad had the game playing in the delivery room, and when I came home from the hospital he would rock me while watching the games on TV. I’ve been a Sabres fan since I was born, and Feb 22nd felt like a new beginning. For me Hockey Heaven is a rebirth, with the team and fans coming together as a hockey family. Seeing the Pegula family handing out programs, alumni welcomed back with open arms, and fans being truly listened to all reminded me of what brings me back to the Sabres year after year. It’s that sense of belonging to a community all dreaming of and working towards one common goal. Now we’re ALL united as a family, working towards the same vision: bringing the Stanley Cup to Buffalo.

KellyHeft1 300x225 The Hockey Heaven Contest: Introducing Kelly

Kelly and Sis at the Winter Classic - one of few tastes of "Hockey Heaven" under the Golisano Era.

If you recognize her sister, that’s because she is  “Her Heiny Granger” of the Queen City Roller Girls’ Devil Dollies. Outstanding. The next time I go to an away game, I want these girls on my bus.

Kelly writes a  Sabres blog, entitled “Rooting For Laundry.” She can also be found on Twitter, at @KHeft.

Once more – thanks to all that participated. If there is one thing this contest taught me, it is that the idea of “Hockey Heaven” is deeply embedded in our hockey hearts already.

Go Sabres.

Be sure to visit “Hockey Heaven,” our sponsor of this contest.

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The Offseason: Ain’t it Funny how the Night Moves

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This was a fun night to be a Sabres fan.

“How,” you ask? Well, I’ll tell you. While hockey players hit the links, fun and informative (and some disappointing) stuff continues to filter through the summer sports abyss. (Sorry “Home Run Derby,” but the only thing worse than “Home Run Derby” is highlights of “Home Run Derby.”)

We’re deep into the offseason now, and hockey news is hard to come by (save the delirious rants of HF Boards rumor-supposers. Schenn for Stamkos? Put out the “cigar,” sir).

Still, it’s been a fun day here in the B-lo. Here’s our mentions (which I am sure won’t make the ESPY’s, but more on that later):

Maxim Afinogenov is getting married!

TheEnigmafinogenovs 300x221 The Offseason: Aint it Funny how the Night Moves

Hey Lindy - someone finally cracked the "enigma code!"

For those who care, that’s tennis star (now retired) Elena Dementieva who is the beautiful bride-to-be for the (now NHL-retired) Afinogenov. As for what they are drinking, well, with Max comes always some measure of mystery. Odds are that vodka is involved.

Meanwhile, over at the “ESPY’s,” which apparently happened, a lot of hockey folk got left out. Tim Thomas was not even an afterthought for whatever “American Athlete of the Year Award” they have these days, and Rick Martin was left out of their eulogy sequence. I don’t know if ESPN is trying to make a statement and pick a fight with the NHL here, but I do know that you never, ever, pick a fight with a hockey player.

God speed Rico – we still miss you. (more…)

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The Leino Signing: Analysis from Philadelphia

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By now, the UFA buzz in your brains should have cleared up.

It’s officially Summer for hockey fans.  Time to sit back, re-set our rosters on NHL ’11, and hunker down for what should be a quiet offseason from here on out (barring a sudden trade, of course).

It’s also a good time to re-visit the signing of UFA Ville Leino. Sabres fans are not convinced that we landed the true #1 center that we all wanted in Brad Richards, but the Sabres did manage to sign the second-highest scoring UFA on the market. He can play center, and should provide a good one-two punch at center with Derek Roy. He’s a player that we’re to feel very excited about, so at least we’ve been told:

”We felt very strongly about Ville, and we felt that it was important to make sure we didn’t allow a quality player like him to slip by us,” (Darcy) Regier said. ”He was someone we identified early and moved him to the top of the list.”

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It's Blue and Gold for Ville for the next 6 years.

Well then, what about our counterparts in Philadelphia? What do they think about the Leino signing? I dropped in on a few Philadelphia blogs to find that out, and once I survived that journey into that Heart of Darkness, the intel I brought back with me was both good and bad.

From “Broad Street Hockey:”

Ville Leino was a freakin’ deal the last two years. The Flyers resurrected his career, he turned into quite the offensive power in the 2010 playoffs, and then had a decent 2011 season in which we learned that he’s as one-dimensional as one-dimensional players get in the NHL.

We knew he was going to get a raise, and the Flyers were apparently willing to pay him a four year, $12 million contract (as reported by Frank Seravalli). They weren’t going over that, and damn, we should be thankful for that.

The Buffalo Sabres signed him to an unbelievably obscene six year, $27 million contract today. The deal was announced by the team and the details were reported by TSN. It’s overpayment in every sense of the word, and it’s $1.5 million more per year than the Flyers were willing to dish out. Can’t blame him for going after the money at all… but holy crap, Ville Leino is not worth that much money.

We loved the guy during his time here and it was fun while it lasted. Not upset about losing him when all is said and done, though. Everybody is overpaying this year, but think of it this way: Jaromir Jagr for one year at $3.3 million, or Ville Leino at $4.5 million for the next six?

Uh-oh. I think we all knew we overpaid for this guy, but when I see the phrase “he’s as one-dimensional as one-dimensional players get in the NHL,” I start to feel that nagging anxiety of “buyer’s remorse.”

From Nick Derence of “The Bleacher Report:”

There is only so much cap space to go around. So when the Buffalo Sabres offered Ville Leino a six-year, $27mil contract, the Flyers were forced to say farewell to the dependable two-way forward. The Sabres hope that Leino will take up the same clutch goal scoring role for them that he did playing against them during these past playoffs.

Oh, he’s a “dependable two-way forward.” Good. I feel better about that now.

From Travis Hughes, of “SB Nation:

Leino, the 27-year old native of Finland, was toiling away in obscurity back in the 2009-10 season with the Detroit Red Wings. A late season trade brought him to the Philadelphia Flyers, and on a line with Danny Briere and Scott Hartnell, Leino turned into a hero in Philly’s run to the Stanley Cup Final.

The same chemistry with those two linemates wasn’t really there in the 2010-11 season, but Leino still managed to put up 19 goals and 34 assists in 81 games with the Flyers this past regular season. Flyers fans learned that he’s quite the one-dimensional player, as he started over 60 percent of his shifts in the offensive end of the ice, unable to be trusted with defensive zone minutes.

That’s why the money seems so high. Leino can score and has some of the best hands in the game, but that’s all he can do. Will it be worth it to the Sabres? It seems like any price is worth it to new owner Terry Pegula.

What? Which is it, Philly, good two-way or bad two-way? Stop jerkin’ us around! “One dimensional… 60%…unable…to be…trusted…” there’s that anxiety again.

buyersremorsepills 150x150 The Leino Signing: Analysis from Philadelphia

I need an rx. Is there a doctor in the house?

In order for Leino to be successful in Buffalo, he must produce – and not just in the offensive zone. The Sabres play a dogged “System” of hockey under Lindy Ruff, one that is focused on control of all three zones. While Leino has shown in the past that he can do this, he’s apparently shown more recently that he can be a liability in at least 40% of the ice surface. It won’t take long for this style of play to earn him a place in Ruff’s doghouse.

And then there goes that one-two punch.

If there is one stat that I have focused on since this surprise signing, however, it has been his playoff stats. 28 points in 37 career playoff games makes me feel much more confident and relaxed (even if one of those points was that goal he scored in the overtime of Game Six this past season, which pretty much ended our playoff hopes).

Another reassuring statistical pill is the fact that Leino put up a +14 over the regular season, despite the fact or opinion that he lost his two-way game somewhere in that stretch. That +14 would have been good enough for 2nd best on the Sabres, under the recently-departed Steve Montador’s +16. Drew Stafford was the forward closest in this category, at +13 (it’s pretty downhill from there).

It also helps to remember that bolstering the defense was one of the top priorities of Lindy Ruff in this offseason, and that was done in a huge way with the additions of Robyn Regehr and Christian Ehrhoff. Adding Leino (and subtracting Tim Connolly) feels more like a little bonus on top of that upgrade on the blueline.

We have to wait until October 7th until we find out which Leino emerges for Buffalo. There will be no excuses for him: he is just entering his physical prime and will have a larger role here than he did with the Flyers, who were overflowing with offensive talent last season.

Ville, here’s my advice for you:

  • Learn “The System.” Quickly.
  • Stay out of Lindy’s doghouse.
  • Help us get to the playoffs.
  • Go statistically crazy in the playoffs.
  • Help us win the Stanley Cup.
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