Terry Pegula:

Something’s Gotta Give For The Sabres

I’m finding it very hard to write about the Sabres lately. It’s hard for a blogger to get pumped about things and all you want to do is just type, “they suck” and be done with it. But I need to break out of my slump as much as the Sabres do theirs, so I’m forging on.

It wasn’t supposed to be like this. When Pegula rode in to town on his majestic Pegasus (Pegulasus?) and waved around his magic cash wand, the Sabres were supposed to take the league by storm. It was an amazing “what the hell is happening!?” time when the Sabres were actually spending big-name free agents like Regehr and Ehrhoff. “So no Richards” then happened and the Sabres missed out on a top-line center. That was ok, as the Sabres added Ville Leino, a guy somewhat mysterious but it sounded like he had a lot of potential. And of course millions of little things were done around the arena and millions of dollars were spent on the improvements.

 Somethings Gotta Give For The Sabres

Maybe we'd do better if we renamed the team the Pegasuses? (Or is it Pegasii?) This is dumb, but I needed two pictures on this post. It's a personal quota thing.

But I should spare you the history lesson. You’re a Sabres fan (most likely) if you’re reading this site and you know all too well that things haven’t gone according to plan.

We can blame injuries, the coaching staff, the new additions or the old core. But it doesn’t matter. We just want the team to do well. Dammit, Pegula said we would win the Cup, so where is the team that will bring it to us?

I’m sick of being Mr. Positive. All year I’ve said to be patient, to hang in there and we’ll get through these injuries. “Let’s not do anything drastic here, let’s stay the course and let the ship right itself”, I said. I was probably one of the last holdouts on the positive train.  After this long, I’m now convinced that it can’t right itself.

I don’t know what the answer is, but I do have faith in one thing: the ownership. Ted Black and Terry Pegula are at least willing to do whatever is in their power to have a winner here. At least we have that going for us, and that’s more than some other teams can say.

Another thing; we have a lot of pieces in place, a lot of players that are worth something. Maybe we don’t have the right mix but I don’t think we’re that far off. Maybe the answer is a new coach, maybe it’s trading Miller, Roy, Stafford or someone(s) else.

 Somethings Gotta Give For The Sabresbuffalosabresnation.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/01/ept_sports_nhl_experts-743180977-1294343405-300x246.jpg 300w" sizes="(max-width: 409px) 100vw, 409px" />

We're holding out for a hero. Maybe it's this guy.

Something has to change and something will change. I’m not too down because I know change is right around the corner. This may only be the prologue in the Pegula era, with the third act finally bringing home the Cup, but for right now it plain sucks.

Oh yeah, before I forget… #DoSomethingDarcy

share save 171 16 Somethings Gotta Give For The Sabres

Continue Reading

Weathering The Storm

What in the H-E-double-hockey-sticks happened against the Pittsburgh Penguins? How can a team completely fall apart like that? We’re not going to make the playoffs with a team like this! We should trade Miller, Stafford and Roy, fire Regier and Ruff, burn the city to the ground and start over from scratch!

Ok, I’m overdoing it a bit. But it’s still pretty chaotic with all the injuries. Heck, even Thomas Vanek didn’t practice on Monday, sending tendrils of fear all through Sabres Nation. It’s been bad, and many are calling for heads to roll, for players to be traded, for Ruff to be fired… and worse. Wow.

A big part of the problem may be that we have a lot of history and buildup with the current team. Expectations were high even before Terry Pegula bought the team. Then he came in raised the bar even higher and said, “We’re going to hit this mark”.

Yeah, these Sabres are all over the map with their play, but that’s to be expected when your entire team consists of the entire roster of your minor league team, minus perhaps a goalie. When Lindy Ruff was asked about getting back to consistency he responded thusly:

“I don’t think you can talk about that until you get your team back,” coach Lindy Ruff said. “You’re looking at a line out there of [Evgeni] Malkin and [Chris] Kunitz, and I’ve got [Zack] Kassian, [Paul] Szczechura and Luke Adam on the ice. You’re asking a lot out of the kids, and they’ve played hard for us. But we need some bodies back.” (Source – Buffalo News)

On top of the injuries, another thing that really makes it hard for us fans right now is that we don’t know what we’ve got in this team. Unlike say, the Boston Bruins or Detroit Red Wings, we cannot unequivocally say we’re going to make the playoffs and be a real threat to go deep and win the Stanley Cup. And unlike the Columbus Bluejackets or New York Islanders we are not totally out of it and looking just to rebuild over the next year or two. No, the Sabres are… well, a pretty talented but young team with a lot of injuries.

And sure, there are a lot of negatives going on right now that we can point to as validation for hitting the panic button. For example, Ryan Miller’s stats are horrible. He has a GAA of 3.12, good for 37th in the NHL, with a save percentage of .902 (32nd in the league.) We also let a guy named Sneep score against us in his very first NHL game! Sneep! I’m sure he has a 1st name but I’d like to pretend otherwise. Sounds like a name from some children’s book. It is, you say?

 Weathering The Stormbuffalosabresnation.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/12/Sneep_Stewart-150x150.jpg 150w" sizes="(max-width: 300px) 100vw, 300px" />

The Sabres saw a Sneep. It lulled them to sleep. They barely even made a peep. They were in much too deep. (Dr. Seuss, I'm not.)

So with everything going crazy right now, some might point out the example of the Philadelphia Flyers who made some moves in the offseason that seemed insane at the time. But so far, trading Jeff Carter and Mike Richards has turned out pretty well for them. It feels good to hit the “detonate nukes” button. (It’s such a pretty, shiny, red button.) It’s easy to place the blame on one or two guys and just get rid of them.

It’s hard to not press the button.

But I don’t think we need to do that. Nor is it time to do so … yet. Now, I’m not trying to look at things through rose-colored glasses or tell you that everything is going to be just peachy (or be preachy). I’m just saying that Ted Black and crew deserve some time before we rush into destroying things that the Sabres have taken years to build. Shouldn’t Regier and Ruff get at least one full season under the new ownership to see what they can do? Haven’t they earned that? Same goes for the players.

Like Lindy Ruff teaches, perhaps we shouldn’t get too high or too low. Maybe we should just enjoy the season as it unfolds and take the long view. We’ll have some amazing hockey and some crap games as well. As the season progresses, the Sabres will hopefully gain more chemistry and consistency.

With that should come wins and a playoff spot. And if the younger guys’ streak of nastiness can mesh with the cores scoring ability? Come playoff time they could be downright dangerous. We just need to weather this storm for a while.

share save 171 16 Weathering The Storm

Continue Reading

Ted Black Says Lindy Ruff Stays And Some Other Cool Things

1

Well, apparently the head coaching gig in Buffalo is the topic du’jour. Giving up a 3 goal lead and having a shaky home record can do that to a fanbase.

dumbdumber1 Ted Black Says Lindy Ruff Stays And Some Other Cool Thingsbuffalosabresnation.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/12/dumbdumber1-300x194.jpg 300w" sizes="(max-width: 448px) 100vw, 448px" />

Lloyd: What's the soup du'jour? Waitress: It's the soup of the day. Lloyd: Ooo... that sounds good, I'll have that!

Scott brought up the fact that we should at least be having the conversation about Lindy Ruff. Why is it verboten to speak of firing him? Yes, he’s been great and most of us love him – he’s sort of the patriarch of the Sabres organization and the rock of the family.

However … all good things come to an end. Even Scotty Bowman was fired. Of course that’s probably not a great example, as he went on to win Stanley Cups elsewhere.

See, this is the eternal debate. The team isn’t doing great so perhaps firing the head coach and bringing in a new guy will take us to the promised land. But what if Lindy Ruff is the guy for Buffalo and he isn’t really the problem? What if we fire him and he wins Stanley Cups with, I don’t know, let’s say Columbus after they fire Scott Arniel. Crazy, right? But it’s possible.

We can have this debate all year long, and it’s something that we should at least talk about. No one should be untouchable. However, it’s all moot at this point because as Tamara has pointed out, Terry Pegula adores Lindy and said that he’s not going anywhere.

Well now, if that’s not enough for you, Ted Black reinforced that point this morning in his weekly chat with WGR 550. You can listen to the full audio here.  There are lots of great bits in the audio and we’ll transcribe and otherwise pick apart some of it.

[Howard Simon of WGR] How much of that (the Sabres’ philosophy of winning the Stanley Cup) includes the status of the head coach, the status of the GM and making a change in one or both of those spots if it’s necessary and is it necessary by they way?

[Ted Black] No it’s not, so it really renders the rest of the question moot.

[WGR] It’s not a moot question, don’t you think that’s an issue right now? You tell me, in your mind, in Terry Pegula’s mind there is no issue with coaching or GM at this point?

[TB] None.

[WGR] How come?

[TB] Why well, there just isn’t. I don’t think Darcy or Lindy have injured as many players as have been injured. It’s not like we’re hopelessly out of the playoffs or hopelessly out of 1st place in our division or the conference.

Come on Ted, quit flip flopping and leaving wiggle room here. </snark> So the official word is hands down, Lindy isn’t going anywhere, he’s our guy, stop asking questions, there is no room for leeway on this matter, end of chat.

However, later in the interview he said, “We don’t live in always and never.” Ah, so you’re telling me there’s a chance!

(Yes! The second Dumb & Dumber reference in the same post! Give me some sort of imaginary blogger points! *fistpump*)

Some other snippets from the interview that should sit well with any Sabres fan:

  • This team is dramatically better than it was last year and we’re not done yet. We’re going to use every opportunity to improve ourselves.
  • On trades: You have to have a partner, and at certain points of the year there’s not a whole lot going on.
  • When this team is healthy, this team is very, very good.
  • We are going to win a Stanley Cup. It may not happen this year. It may very well happen this year. But we’re going to do it or die trying.”
  • On the rash of injuries having a silver lining: [We’ve learned] that these young guys that had no track record going into this year can play in the league and play at a pretty decent level.

So it’s reiterated from on high that Lindy is here to stay – at least for the forseeable future. Whether that’s a good or bad thing we may never know.

I do know this: I love Ruff as a coach. He’s “our guy”. The Pittsburgh Steelers have had only 3 coaches in their history and there’s something I like about that. Sometimes you need that steady rudder to guide you when the storm is raging all around. Could we do better? Maybe. But it’s a chance I’m not willing to take at the moment, and neither are the Sabres.

share save 171 16 Ted Black Says Lindy Ruff Stays And Some Other Cool Things

Continue Reading

A Key to the City of Buffalo for Terry Pegula?

2

Look mom, I’m taking on City Hall!

Remember when Terrell Owens came to town, and was awarded the key to the city? He was supposed to catch 10 touchdown passes in return. Well, he caught 55 passes before his one year contract was up, and off he went.

That wasn’t the best decision regarding keys to cities, but since that debacle, someone has arrived in the Queen City who actually deserves the honor – Terry Pegula. I brought this up during the Ted Black chat on Twitter today, and while Ted didn’t respond to the idea (a wise choice to keep his words away from politics) many others did. Seems like folks want to get this done, so let’s give it a try.

There are those that see a key to the city as an empty gesture (especially after the Owens mistake), but I disagree. It’s quite meaningful, especially if it is awarded to Pegula by a legion of fans. From wiki:

The Key to the City is a similar award that is descended from Freedom of the City. It is used in several countries, but is especially popular in the United States.

An ornamental key is presented to esteemed visitors, residents, or others the city wishes to honor. Evoking medieval walled cities whose gates were guarded during the day and locked at night, the key symbolises the freedom of the recipient to enter and leave the city at will as a trusted friend of city residents.

I can’t think of a better way to say “thank you, Terry” than that.

Key to the City2 A Key to the City of Buffalo for Terry Pegula?buffalosabresnation.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/Key-to-the-City2-150x150.jpg 150w" sizes="(max-width: 300px) 100vw, 300px" />

Or at least buy him a six pack of Blue.

And we have a lot to be thankful for. Here’s a list of things he did for us fans that I compiled back in April. In yesterday’s Buffalo News, Bucky Gleason wrote a piece reviewing all that Terry has done for us, for this team, and for this city since then. He was gushing.

He’s a wealthy man who carries himself as if he didn’t have a dime in his pocket, a great fit in outposts like Buffalo. He’s doing deeds that don’t cost a penny but make him a rich man. He has surrounded himself with sharp, creative minds such as team president Ted Black. They’re covering the details, right down to televisions in the bathrooms and cup holders on urinals.

The Sabres for years had problems with soft ice, so he paid for a dehumidifying system that they believe will give them the best surface in the NHL.

He thought the Sabres’ dressing room was outdated, so he committed $6 million toward a new one. Then it was $8 million. Some say it’s nearing $10 million. It will have everything you can imagine, including a fireplace. If this keeps up, it might have a separate fire department.

Ten months have passed since Pegula’s name surfaced as a potential owner, but I still haven’t heard one cross word about the guy. You would think somebody would have pointed out a flaw — any flaw by now. So far, nothing. If anything, more people gush about him as they come to know him.

In an interview yesterday, Pegula was asked how much money he’s poured into this project to build Hockey Heaven and win Lord Stanley. “We’re investing our hearts,” he said.

We already tried a quicky thrown together birthday sing-along for Terry, but his largesses on our fine city should be officially recognized. It’s time for the Mayor to return some heartfelt investment.

What say you? Let the mayor know on Twitter, at @MayorByronBrown.

Whether this happens or not, at least in trying I feel like I have said “thank you, Terry.” And that feels good.

Go Sabres.

share save 171 16 A Key to the City of Buffalo for Terry Pegula?

Continue Reading

So No Richards? That’s OK.

5

Now that the Brad Richards frenzy is over, we can calmly and cooly look back at it. (I hope?)

The Sabres didn’t want to pay (or perhaps overpay depending on your opinion) the money it would’ve taken to sign Richards. They knew roughly what he would command in the market and had their backup plans.

So no Richards.

 So No Richards? Thats OK.

Do we really want Richards anyway? He already won a Cup so how hungry can he be for another? And he besmirched the Cup with a crustacean. Everyone knows the only food that should go in there is chicken wings.

A simple text and an innocuous one, it turned out. For those unfamiliar with the line, one of the princesses of the Pegula dynasty, Jessie Pegula, tweeted the words “so no richards”. The tweet was quickly deleted and @jlpegula said it was a butt tweet. Ok, sure. No one was buying it, but she did her best to cover for what could potentially have interfered with signing the biggest name free agent in this year’s market.

I for one thought it was cute and wouldn’t have really changed anything. She had inside information yet the deal wasn’t going through at that point.

But was the deal for Richards really ever going to go through at all? After the smoke cleared, another report came out that Pegula and Regier didn’t go up to Mississauga to visit Richards and his agent after all.

“We had plans to go up to Mississauga to meet with him,” Regier said. “As the day progressed and even with the number of clubs that were in line to speak with Newport Sports, we really got into a time pressure situation where we had to make a decision. 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.

It doesn’t sound like the Sabres really wanted Richards that badly after all. Actually sounds like they wanted Ville Leino more and they went for it.

 So No Richards? Thats OK.

Richards also risked taking the Cup for a ride on a jet ski. Well, actually that's pretty cool. After all, it had a life jacket on.

There are a couple things I take away from this.

One is that Richards is 31 and has concussion history. Richards had success in Tampa Bay, even winning a cup but that was with a stacked team. In the last 4 years with the Dallas Stars, his team has made the playoffs only one time, although they did make it to the 3rd round that year. Richards is called a “point a game” guy, but look at his plus-minus (click to embiggen):

Screen shot 300x216 So No Richards? Thats OK.buffalosabresnation.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/07/Screen-shot.jpg 726w" sizes="(max-width: 300px) 100vw, 300px" />

Only during one year, Tampa Bay’s Cup victory, did Richards post better than a +3. Darcy’s mamma didn’t raise no dummy. He knew the Sabres could spend their money much more effectively.

The other takeaway is this: the Sabres aren’t going to be completely honest with the public. Even in this amazing new Pegula era, we can’t expect complete transparency and honesty. They have to play games with other teams. Disinformation, confusion, misdirection… it’s the art of war and every other team is the Sabres enemy. If we can use tactics to get other teams to pay more for free agents, we’ll do it.

So the Sabres probably weren’t really even in the Richards race to begin with. Even if they were, Richards could join the growing line of expensive Rangers free agents that just haven’t panned out. He may even look a bit like (dare I say his name) Timmeh.

So no Richards?

Nope, and that’s just fine.

share save 171 16 So No Richards? Thats OK.

Continue Reading

Email Updates

Get instant updates of BSN posts via email!

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner