An Open Letter to the Buffalo Sabres (Part IV)


Hey guys.

This is my fourth letter to you regarding this subject. I’m assuming you never received the previous three.

Honestly, it was just a joke the first time (well, mostly). But c’mon guys, you’ve only netted 13 goals in 10 games, while allowing 28. Your -15 goal differential is 2nd worst in the league – but don’t let that high ranking fool you. You should be dead last.

Anyway, like I said before (and before, and that other time before):

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Sabres GIFs: “Mikhail YOU doin’?!?”


…is just one of the many, many better ways Rick Jeanneret could have called Mikhail Grigorenko’s first career goal in the NHL (and ours involves a horrendous “Friends” reference). Instead, we got this:

Shoveled into the net from behind, and the Buffalo Sabres have managed to come back and tie this game, and they wanted the guy to get it, and the guy who got it was the fellow who was just signed into the NHL for a season early in the day confirmed, Mikhail Grigorenko!


We’ll absolutely give the Poet of the Pressbox the benefit of the doubt on his mouth-diarrhea, given his recent illness and general awesomeness. He’ll make up for it, folks.

And frankly, it kinda fits. I think all our brains went a little fizzy when our latest Buffalo Sports Savior notched his first goal. I think we all went a little giddy and goofy, and that’s a good thing.

Oh and speaking of giddy and goofy, this happened, too:


Generated image from gifs generated with the Imgflip Animated GIF Generator




Good thing Mike Weber got in there to spray them with snow and cool them off before things got serious.

Put it all together, and here’s how it all went down after Grig’s first goal:

  1. Awkward, yet somehow fitting call
  2. Awesome hockey hug/dry hump
  3. Spray the rookie down hells yea!

Let’s not forget the goal earned the Sabres a critical point. And again, we give RJ all of the benefits of all of the doubts here. We advise you do the same. Otherwise, you have to go through:

This guy gets an A+ in my 310w" sizes="(max-width: 264px) 100vw, 264px" />

This guy.

Rob 440w" sizes="(max-width: 300px) 100vw, 300px" />

THIS guy.

Rick Jeanneret 650w" sizes="(max-width: 300px) 100vw, 300px" />

And then this guy and his blade.

Next up: the Boston Bruins. And things get serious. Don’t forget to enjoy the great moments like this one along the way.

Go Sabres.

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SEASON PREVIEW, PART 2: The Smart Tweets, and a Prediction

Remember hockey? It’s back.

This is what it used to feel like:



Then we were dragged through hockey hell…




Fan reaction happened. This was the smartest, in my opinion:



And now hockey is back, and in a wonderful new way:



Obviously, you can add Ennis to that old tweet.

A new era of Sabres hockey begins this weekend. A few big pieces of the old core (Pominville, Vanek, Roy, Stafford and Hecht) remain in the Blue and Gold, but the culture has vastly changed. Gone are Roy and Connolly, whose games brought plenty of flair but never struck any fear against the opposition.

Yes, the Sabres haven’t played a single game yet. But they look fearsome on paper. And don’t think for a minute other teams haven’t been reading up.


Remember the “Hardest Working Team in Hockey?” By far, that Ted Nolan led squad was not the most talented group of guys in the league, but they were fun as hell to watch. And they were a hell of a team to play against.

This year’s squad is an intriguing mix of – dare I say it – elite talent AND fear inducing grinders. Obviously, Vanek, Pominville, Ennis (possibly even Grigorenko) et al will put up the points. This team has never really been at a lack for goal scoring in recent years. The trade of Roy for Ott might seem like a swap of points for punches, but that is far too simple. That trade might be the centerpiece around what is really an entire culture change for the Sabres.

A return to a “Hardest working team in Hockey” mentality.

A return to a team that opponents fear to play against.

Yes, the Sabres haven’t played a single game yet. But they look fearsome on paper. And don’t think for a minute other teams haven’t been reading up.

  • Foligno
  • Gerbe
  • Kaleta
  • McCormick
  • Ott
  • Scott
  • Regehr
  • Weber

Darcy Regier has been slowly, quietly writing his roster on sandpaper. Ott is just the latest piece. The best part about this new “grit,” really, is that most of these guys can score. Foligno, Gerbe, and Ott can chirp, hit, and chip in their share of points. McCormick can score. Kaleta’s got offense.

These are the types of guys that make a team a nightmare to play against – they keep the opposition’s head on a swivel and help to keep the red light active all at once. It sure doesn’t hurt that they make it far easier for guys like Vanek and Pominville to play their game.

Hockey Heaven has some Hell on ice in store for the NHL for this go around.

hell on 284w" sizes="(max-width: 349px) 100vw, 349px" />

This is going to be a fun ride.


FEARSOME Prediction:

The Sabres will take the NE Division. They’ve got veteran scoring up front, and dynamic young studs like Ennis and Hodgson that are ready to come out and party. They are deep and seasoned corps at defense. They have a roster infused with former and current team captains. They have a (former) Vezina winning goaltender and a very capable backup. They’ve got two checking lines that can control the puck and the boards (or put it the puck in the net and the bodies into the dashers).

Most importantly, this is a team to fear. Last year’s late-season mantra of “We’ve got to take their will away from them” is going to be a lot easier this time around.


I’m hoping that’s the word that sticks to Buffalo this year. That, and playoffs.

Give ’em hell, boys.

Go Sabres.


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Bad News, Bad News, and More Bad News


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. 499w" sizes="(max-width: 300px) 100vw, 300px" />

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 “” (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

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.

 The Uppercut

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. 400w" sizes="(max-width: 300px) 100vw, 300px" />

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. 400w" sizes="(max-width: 300px) 100vw, 300px" />

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.

Go Sabres.

Go Bills.

And god bless the fans.


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Xenophobia: Grigorenko, Buffalo, and the Motherland

The Russian Factor.

Lazy Russians.

Enigmatic Russians.

Mikhail Grigorenko slipped to the Sabres all the way down the draft board to #12 for all of the above. It didn’t matter that he was out there trying to play hockey with mononucleosis – concerns over his work ethic remained even after that news tidbit came out. It should be odd that we’d slap a “Lazy Russian” tag on him. As Jeremy White pointed out in a podcast with Brad Riter over at Trending Buffalo, if he was American or Canadian, we’d likely instead be talking about his effort to play while “stricken with disease.”

In such a way, Grigorenko is already an “enigma” in the NHL. He still has to prove his work ethic. Still has to prove he’s not another “lazy Russian.” He still will need years to prove to us that he won’t bolt to the KHL.

So far, none of this is making fans in Buffalo all that nervous, but it is in the back of our minds. It is in the media conversations. 519w" sizes="(max-width: 300px) 100vw, 300px" />

He looks happy. Right? Then again, why the heck am I analyzing his expression at all?

We’re all going to have to get over our own xenophobia – but the weird thing is, it seems to be up to Grigorenko to do it for us. Hell, all I want is for the kid to succeed, score goals, and help the Sabres make the playoffs. But again – what if he doesn’t stick with the team this year? Will he eventually get frustrated enough playing in the QMJHL and “bolt to the KHL,” where the competition is against men, and the rinks are paved with gold?

Crap – what if there is a NHL lockout this season?

I’d like to call it doubt, or put the blame for all these questions simply the natural dubious instincts of the human mind. But it’s not.

It’s xenophobia:

Xenophobia can manifest itself in many ways involving the relations and perceptions of an ingroup towards an outgroup, including a fear of losing identity, suspicion of its activities, aggression, and desire to eliminate its presence to secure a presumed purity. Xenophobia can also be exhibited in the form of an “uncritical exaltation of another culture” in which a culture is ascribed “an unreal, stereotyped and exotic quality.”

And I just typed “…where the rinks are paved with gold.” Is that enough “exotic quality” or what?

Mind, the anxiety is playing out in much the same way in Russia as it is here.

Congratulations, we (the KHL) are afraid! Now this is no longer any doubt. If a small number of selected Russians in the last few draft choices, many explained by the fact that, say, and to choose something special there was no one, now it differently as xenophobia and can not be called.Moreover, xenophobic, bordering on panic madness.

Painting League (the mis-perception of the KHL) for North Americans look like this – the mysterious League with very poor infrastructure, but where all the clubs in polls in the presence of a lot of money bags, which they gladly would give young players, and those only happy to take them in his arms.

Realistic looks, really. Of course, Nail Yakupov goes to “Neftekhimik” earning $ 10 million a month if he suddenly did not have to court the “Oilers”. Of course, for the same money back in CSKA for Mikhail Grigorenko.

…Grigorenko was eventually selected as the 12th number of “Buffalo”, and it’s a surprise. Not even because he was chosen relatively late, but because it is “Sabres.” After all, “Blades” had been a stronghold of xenophobia against the Russians – they do not choose our countrymen for six years. And there is not enough that they took Grigorenko, so also the Latvian striker Zemgusa Girgensonsa.

The well-known North American agent, Jay Grossman, said shortly before the draft pick that all of our players will be selected by the teams that they are really interested. It sounds logical. Because if even in an atmosphere of general panic, you make a choice in favor of the Russians, you must be a hell of an interest in it.

However, this also makes the atmosphere of our players to go overseas and make ambiguous statements in the local press to prove that they are not giraffes and they can be trusted. In this case, no Russian club will not receive any compensation for their students, selected in the NHL Draft this weekend.

At the same time quietly in Sweden wins championships “Bryunes”, which shine in the young Jakub Silfverberg, Johan Larsson and Calle Yarnkruk. In Finland, the champion was “UP”, where the glittering 21-year-old Christian and Sami Vatanen Nekyuvya. They (Finns, Swedes) have a robust and clear framework for cooperation with the NHL, there is a clear hierarchy, in which players are developing and there is no xenophobia, while in Russia, we continue to condone the bessistemem each year free of losing its best young people, which are wary of “there” and often hate “here.”

This is a scheme where there are no winners, only those who lose less than others. This scheme creates an atmosphere where all hate each other.

(Above section roughly translated by Google.)

For now, Grigorenko is here to stay. For now, he’s working out with his new team mates, and all would appear that his goal (and the Sabres goal) for him to stay here for 82 (or more) games next season. If he doesn’t make the squad, he has said that he’ll go back to Patrick Roy and the Quebec Remparts. Or is that just one of those “ambiguous statements to the local press?”

After all, it was as recent as January 24th of 2010, when Grigorenko made these statements:

Do you have a hockey dream?
Grigorenko: “Sure I have. I would really like to be called to the Russian national team. And win the Olympics and the World Championships. (smiles)”

Have you already collected any trophy?
Grigorenko: “Yes, I won the Russian championship with the Moscow selects. That’s all for now. It’s not a lot for now, but I hope that more will follow.”

And what about your near perspectives? Don’t you dream about the NHL?
Grigorenko: “I haven’t really thought about the NHL yet. My main thought for now is to get into a MHL team and then to the KHL. I’m thinking about this only.”

In what KHL team would you like to play?
Grigorenko: “I don’t really know. I consider CSKA Moscow as my mother club. They grew me up as player and so I’d really like to play there, it would be a reward for my mother team. We’ll see.”

Well, at least since the draft he’s said all the right things, and is doing all the right things to indicate that he will stay – or at least wants to stay. And there’s that lingering doubt again. And it’s safe to say that same doubt, that same whisper of xenophobia, is what caused me to look for this interview in the first place.

We hope that Grigorenko is 100% committed to staying, but we can’t say for sure. Until the NHL and KHL develop a relationship that prevents players from “bolting” to other leagues, there will always be questions looming over players and prospects from that giant portion of the globe. Because of this, questions and doubts will always come with Russian players.

Just try not to think about it, and focus instead on the “I’m excited as hell to watch this kid play for the Sabres” part of your mind. That advice won’t quiet the disquiet in the backs of our minds, but it’s all we can do. Try to focus more on the excitement of his upside, rather than all those questions.

We’ll wait and see. But will we see what we want?

That question is the same there just as it is here. Sabres fans, welcome to the anxiety and unending frustration of the NHL vs. the KHL. Welcome to the leagues of xenophobes.

Go Sabres.

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