High Projections for the 2011-12 Sabres Have Begun, but Don’t get too Excited yet, Billy

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Always the bridesmaid.

4 Superbowls, 2 appearances in the Stanley Cup Final – and 6 second best ribbons.

Prognosticators and the media haven’t been kind to Buffalo for quite a while, and who can blame them? Having an “internal cap” and “spending budget” never did scream “Cup or bust” here for the Sabres.

Still, now that Pegula and Regier have busted through the Cap ceiling – leading all NHL teams in salary – the hockey world has no choice but to at least raise an eyebrow. Bookies are salivating, ready for the bets to start pouring in from over-excited Buffalonians.

Um, it’s Billy Brown calling. l’d like to bet on the Super Bowl. On Buffalo. To win. Right.

-(Billy Brown on the phone with his bookie. From the script of “Buffalo 66.”)

Take a breath, folks. And please, take your bookies off speed-dial. Yea, the offseason has been a thrilling ride, but we haven’t ever won a dang thing when it mattered most, and we haven’t won a single game in the 2011-12 season.

High projections have started to come to print for the 2011-12 Sabres. The core of our Blue and Gold roster that barely squeaked into the playoffs last year is still here, but with the additions of Robyn Regehr, Christian Ehrhoff, and Ville Leino, expectations have vastly risen for next season.

Excited? You should be. We’re in uncharted ice, here.

SabresBanners 300x199 High Projections for the 2011 12 Sabres Have Begun, but Dont get too Excited yet, Billy

Those banners look awfully lonely up in the rafters - but there are some who are saying the HSBC might be adding another banner or two by the time the 2011-12 season is finished.

“The Hockey News” published their list of the “Top 10 Offseason Winners” recently. Though the offseason is not yet over (and certainly not over for the Sabres, who are already over the cap with Marc-Andre Gragnani and Jhonas Enroth yet to sign), Adam Proteau had this to say about how things have changed at the HSBC:

The Sabres received enough of a boost this past season when new team owner Terry Pegula assumed control of the organization. And Pegula put a lot of his money where his Sabres-loving mouth is this summer, ponying up for D-man Christian Ehrhoff, outbidding numerous teams for left winger Ville Leino and adding rugged blueliner Robyn Regehr from Calgary. If the Sabres don’t challenge Boston for the Northeast Division title, it won’t be because they don’t have the players.

Challenge the Bruins? The team that just won the Stanley Cup? Yep. Those Bruins.

The NE Division crown and the Stanley Cup are a long, long way off, and there is a lot of hockey to play before we can back up our bold new hopes, but at least we can enjoy some realistic dreams for once.

Then again…

Buffalo66 300x168 High Projections for the 2011 12 Sabres Have Begun, but Dont get too Excited yet, Billy

"Oh, and, Billy. lf Buffalo ever makes it back to the Super Bowl, bet against them."

We’re still Buffalo – that snake-bitten town that has never won a thing (apologies to the Bills of the AFL and our beloved Bandits). We’re all pretty excited to be bringing players in – very good players – but hopes are still tempered around the Queen City.

This past season, the Sabres went on a remarkable run to make the playoffs after Pegula took over on February 22nd. They posted a 16-4-4 record down the stretch, before running out of gas and Pegula magic in a hard fought first round series against the Flyers. It remains to be seen how much gas these new additions will bring to the squad, and if that Pegula magic still holds any lionizing power over the locker room.  This time, it’s a stretch of 82 games instead of just 24.

It’s still about surviving that long regular season, it’s still about making the playoffs – and then winning 16 of those extra and bloodiest games before anyone else does.

That’s a tall order.

That is a lot to hope for, and we’re all a little rusty on hope here in the Rust Belt.

But at least, for once, we can have some realistic hope. Even if we do keep our hopes a little quiet.

Go Sabres.

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The Pominville Injury: Update

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Pominville is on schedule.

Thanks again to Abby Corsun Sims (MS, PT) of “AthletiSense.com for her advice on what poor Pommers has been going through during the summer and what to expect throughout his recovery. In case you missed it, we had a conversation with her here on Buffalo Sabres Nation a little while ago.

Pommers1 300x217 The Pominville Injury: Update

It's been a long road of recovery for Jason, but things are looking up for him now.

We concluded that post by reminding folks that with this type of slow-rehab injury, the best news is no news. Well, he’s progressed to a point where we’re now getting updates on his recovery. During a press conference addressing the signings of Matt Ellis and Andrej Sekera, Darcy Regier had this to add about Pominville (compliments to Black and Blue and Gold for wrapping up the presser on their site):

Probably the most important comment of the night came when the general manager was asked about Pominville’s progress rehabilitating from his horrific injury. Asked if he expected the forward would be ready to go at the beginning of training camp, Darcy said, “We do. Everything is on course and we expect him ready to go.”

For more on the Sekera and Ellis signings, bang on that link to BBG.

Go Sabres.

See also: “The Pominville Injury,” Regier Chats about Contracts, Coaches, and Pominville’s Rehabilitation (from Black and Blue and Gold)” (more…)

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When Sports Fans Go Bad

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Ever get so pissed off at a game at a fan cheering or doing things that you want to take a swing at them? I have.

Buffalo sports fans can be loud. We take a great amount of pride in this. Our boisterousness can also be taken as rudeness in other teams arenas.

I’ve seen it, and it happens in our barn too (damn Leafs fans jump to mind). You have a couple beers, you want to root for your team and sometimes it gets taken a little bit too far. It happens, it’s sports. And it’s alcohol. Mix the two and people can easily get carried away.

thursdays dar 281 202x300 When Sports Fans Go Bad

Sports energy and cheering gone wrong. Way wrong.

I’ve written before that I’ve attended lots of Bluejackets games in Columbus. I’ve been to every regular season Sabres game at Nationwide Arena and each time it seems like Sabres fans own the place. Of course we’re louder than the home team and it makes sense: the more “determined” fans are the ones who will travel to away games. The hardcore if you will.

Plus those hardcore fans feel like they have to represent and make noise in the opposing arena. I get it, and I actually like it. I love making noise myself. As a Buffalo sports fan, I’ve made a science out of being able to produce as much noise as I possibly can. (A good shout comes from the diaphragm.)

But some fans take it too far. Case in point was the last game of the 2010-2011 season, Buffalo at Columbus. During the national anthem there was a guy several rows behind us who was making fireworks sounds … during the entire anthem. (more…)

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Have the Sabres Become the new New York Rangers?

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I’ll give you a moment to wipe the spit-take off of your face.

Now that the Buffalo Sabres have become big time spenders in order to become big time contenders, the perception of this team and its management is going to change. Sure, it’s not like anyone ever has anything nice to say about the Queen City anyway, but get yourselves ready to hear “You guys are trying to buy a Cup, so laaaame” all over the internet.

new york rangers and buffalo sabres new era hats1 300x227 Have the Sabres Become the new New York Rangers?

This image is just plain creepy.

Frankly, the teams now bear a lot of similarities. Both now have a young core that was weaned from the draft, and both have over-spent to hopefully bolster their lineups on July 1st.

In order to assess how Sabres fans feel about this troubling comparison, I did some very scientific research: I consulted the Twitter. Here’s a few gems from the Sabres Nation Twit Poll:

  • @Sabrefreakydeak: Yes & No> Yes: TPegs flexing financial muscle. No: Nobody can make idiotic decision quite like the tandem of Dolan & Sather.
  • @MintyP69:  no, because the talent we bought into isn’t here because of our name & they are still in their prime
  • @MusingMaryAnn: Think of it as trying to catch up with the rest of the League who had a jump on us in the past. Spending money is new!

(more…)

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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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