Jochen Hecht:

Whatever. We’re all going to Hecht.

Or something like that.

hecht downer Whatever. Were all going to Hecht.buffalosabresnation.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/hecht-downer-300x165.jpg 300w" sizes="(max-width: 320px) 100vw, 320px" />

Zen power (see below).

Hey, so the Sabres decided to solve their inexperienced center/crappy top PK unit probs with bringing back the same guy who possibly hallucinated himself and his Sabres all the way to the Stanley Cup last season.

Breathe in.

Breathe out.

Repeat.

This is a good signing. Right?

That’s the hope.

This is a bad signing?

Wrong.

It’s a terrible signing?

Wrong.

Breathe in.

Breathe out.

Obscenities and mediocrity! Fire people and tweet the Pegula daughters that we want Malkin! Nothing else! Malkin(s)!

Breathe, dammit!

 I’m not going to play the Euro card. I’m not going to play the Euro card. I’m not going to play the Euro card.

You people have no Zen power. Hecht instantly IMPROVES the Sabres. Who did you want? A 38 year old Arnnott, for 48 games, who’d have to spend time learning Lindy Ruff’s “system” and possibly costing us a game in the process? An 18-27 year old (depending on which birther you talk to) Grigorenko centering a third line* with a pair of scrubs designed for puck control schemes only? This team and its youngsters need solid veteran competition.

Heck, Hecht is the perfect guy for the 3rd and 4th line. Like it, or not: he’s consummately consistent, defensively sound, knows “the system,” and really, really, really is passionate about playing this season. (For certain: it is his last.)

So why not embrace him?

I’m not going to play the Euro card. I’m not going to play the Euro card. I’m not going to play the Euro card.

Not enough palms for my face.

Also, Euro card: played.

euro card Whatever. Were all going to Hecht.buffalosabresnation.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/euro-card-300x182.jpg 300w" sizes="(max-width: 445px) 100vw, 445px" />

Hecht is a damn fine defensive forward, who possesses the offensive talent to produce goals from the 3rd and 4th line, or even when short-handed. Captain Pommers said he looks great, when he played alongside him in the DEL lockout penitentiary. Pommers is our captain. He’s earned it. He’s as consistent on the ice as… well, Hecht. More talented for sure, but this team must have consistent players like these for a short 48 game playoff push.

All I can say is “Welcome back” to our once again longest tenured Sabre. The only beef I have with him is that my wife thinks his eyes are “deep pools of mystery.” Thankfully, she also thinks his face is all “weirded up like a mosquito.”

Euro-hate.

Fan-lust.

Fan-ire.

No, fan HATE. Is this really a thing?

As in the title:

We’re all going to Hecht.

Let’s hope there’s a shiny Cup at the end of the journey. And please, Hockey Gods: protect his head. I do fear for him in this way.

#ProtectTheLid

Go Sabres.

*Yea sorry. Grigs and Girgs are not guaranteed roster spots in a 48 game season. Welcome to the playoffs, already.

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Lindy Ruff: the Most Powerful Man in Hockey Heaven, Finally

You gotta’ feel bad for Mike Weber these days.

Last season, Weber tied for 2nd place in plus/minus on the Sabres with a +13, lead the team in hits (158), and was 3rd in blocked shots (99). He also added 4 goals and 13 assists, and he did this all in just 58 games. He continuously put himself between Ryan Miller and Philadelphia’s shooters in the playoffs, leading the team with 16 blocked shots. He was the star of buffalo74’s much under-heralded “Mike Weber Watch.”

All that, and the guy has to sit in the press box and watch games this year. A healthy scratch. The seventh defenseman. All the while, the 6 ahead of him are playing great, and it doesn’t look like any of them are coming out of the starting lineup anytime soon, barring injury. Top six take note: avoid Weber’s hits during practice. He’s not going to let up. Call it frustration, desperation, or pure determination, Weber must put everything into every hockey shift he has this year just to get a sniff of ice time during a real game. It’s tough times for Weber.

And it’s a wonderful time for Lindy Ruff.

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Put me in coach! I'm ready to... hit things.

Ruff has gone from one of the most green defenses in the NHL to a balanced squad full of blue-chip veterans and prospects. It’s a squad so deep, that when Drew Schiestel (an AHL all star last season and the Sabres best bet for the number 8 d-man) went down for 4-6 weeks with a MCL injury, no one seemed to notice. It’s a weird twist of fate for the defense corps. With Pegula, the Sabres have the additions of Christian Ehrhoff and Robyn Regehr eating up huge minutes of ice time. Without Pegula, Weber and Schiestel may have been battling for the 6th, maybe even the 5th defensive spot.

Meanwhile, Jochen Hecht looks to be coming back from his injury. The offense, augmented by Pegula with the likes of Brad Boyes and and Ville Leino (along with the emergence of Tyler Ennis and Nathan Gerbe) is also out of space. Ruff will have to make a tough decision on where to place Jochen when he makes his return, and who to take out. Patrick Kaleta and Cody McCormick seem to be the likeliest candidates to sit for Hecht, but why mess with a lineup that is 2-0-0 and has outscored its opponents 8-3?

Ruff wields the ultimate power of the modern era coach: he can put anyone’s butt in the pressbox for any game, any time he wants. And the players know it. They know Mike Weber is ready, willing and more than able to take up the slack if someone gets lazy on defense. They know that Hecht, or even Matt Ellis or AHLers Zack Kassian and Marcus Foligno could step in at any time to replace a forward floundering on his confidence.

Ruff wields the ultimate power of the modern era coach: he can put anyone’s butt in the pressbox for any game, any time he wants. And the players know it.

Gone are the days when Lindy Ruff had to have screaming fits with enigmatic players who just didn’t play The System the way he needed them to.

HechtLurking Lindy Ruff: the Most Powerful Man in Hockey Heaven, Finally

Hecht is lurking. Don't screw up, forwards.

Gone are the days of that ill-fated 2005-06 playoff run, when Ruff and his Sabres ran out of serviceable and healthy defensemen in the Eastern Conference Finals.

Gone is the unhealthy sting of the injury bug: replaced with a deep and lasting dose of healthy competition.

Tough times for Mike Weber? Yes. It’s going to be tough for him, or anyone else, to crack this lineup. If anyone loses their place as a starter, it’s going to be miserable trying to get back in. These boys are going to push each other to the brink, and maybe beyond.

Coach Ruff has been to the brink before – 1999, 2006, 2007. Maybe this is the kind of push that he and the Sabres always needed to get them over it. Ruff doesn’t have to say a word. He decides who plays and who sits, and he’s got a wealth of bodies fighting for his attention.

He’s the most powerful man in Hockey Heaven right now. Finally.

Go Sabres.

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Sabres European Trip Bodes Well For the Season

A new day is upon us. Apple’s driving force has passed on, the Bills are good, and the Sabres are big spenders in free agency. Change is the only constant, but change be a good thing.

Tomorrow is the day that Sabres fans start to see if all the offseason work and hype will translate into real success on the ice. So far, the preseason offers optimistic portents.

The Sabres preseason record (against NHL teams) stands at 4-1-1, with the loss to the Bluejackets being the 3rd game played in as many days. The Sabres also had another win against the Adler Mannheim (or Mannheim Eagles), allowing sports writers covering the Sabres to giddily use some version of “Mannheim Steamroller” in a headline.

John Vogl of The Buffalo News was one to not take advantage of such an easy title, instead going for “Sabres make them shout in Mannheim“.  In his writeup he talks about how raucous the crowd was: they started dumming, chanting and singing just minutes into the pregame warmup. Jochen Hecht, a former Mannheim Steamroller, er Adler, led the crowd in a cheer. And, showing their class later in the game, the fans cheered “Let’s go, Buffalo!”.

Amazing, and perhaps we Sabres fans can take a few plays from their playbook.  Are drums or vuvuzelas allowed in the First Niagara Center?

Not everything has gone perfectly in this European trip though. A group of die-hard Sabres fans got stuck in an airport (Philly, of all places). They missed a practice, a meet and greet with the players and a luncheon. Ouch.

That aside, it’s been a very successful Eurotrip for the Sabres and hopefully they can cap it off with a win in the first game that matters against the Anaheim Mighty Ducks tomorrow. For those of you taking the day (or part of the day) off to enjoy the 1:00PM start, enjoy! For everyone else that has to work, hopefully you don’t hear the score before you get to your DVR or NHL Gamecenter.

Go Sabres!

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