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Alexander Mogilny: The Lost Shifts

We have hockey!

14 minutes of hockey. Thanks, Youtube! This video has a lengthy synopsis which reads like a worthy blog post:

To answer several questions and provide a clear understanding of exactly what kind of player he was, I have compiled a footage reel featuring shifts from five NHL games featuring Alexander Mogilny from between 1993 and 2000. This footage includes many regular shifts in which he did not score goals, as well as goal highlights, breakout plays, physical plays, and demonstrations of immense creativity, structure, and control. Footage was taken from the following games:

February 24, 1993 vs. the Detroit Red Wings
April 27, 1994 vs. the New Jersey Devils
April 22, 1996 vs the Colorado Avalanche
October 5, 1996 vs. the Calgary Flames
April 13, 2000 vs. the Florida Panthers

Smart. Now, let’s watch some puck.



That was outstanding.

Make sure to also check out one of our previous posts on Alex the Great here on BSN – “Mogilny’s Sombrero Night Hat Trick.


Hockey Lore is the stuff of Awesome.


Go Sabres.



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Hodgson/Kassian Swap Stupefies Vancouver/Buffalo Press


So who won this trade?

On BSN, we’re (at least I) am pretty excited at the potential that Hodgson brings to our offense. Being on pace to join our best 10 rookies in scoring in team history is nothing to scoff at. It’s something to relish. It’s exciting. Kassian, meanwhile, had been a problem project for the Sabres from the start, and oddly had begun to play a softer game in Rochester this year that set off a bit of a tiff with reporters. Aside from that, Kass just doesn’t have the upside and NHL-natural ability that CoHo possesses. We’ll find a another beefcake grinder soon enough.

Hodgson is special.


But readers of the Buffalo News might be far more wary of Hodgson as a prospect, let alone a player, this morning. From a Bucky Gleason column yesterday:

Upper management apparently was thrilled when Regier completed the deal for Hodgson, the one-time poster boy for Canadian junior hockey. He was selected two picks ahead of Tyler Myers in 2008. The following year, he played on a line with John Tavares and led Canada in scoring on their march to a gold medal in the World Junior Championships.

The Sabres were desperate for help down the middle, and Hodgson could be the playmaker they needed. He had 16 goals and 33 points in 63 games, putting him on pace for 20 goals and 42 points for the season. Not bad considering he played on the third line behind Henrik Sedin and Ryan Kesler.

Hodgson is a right-handed shot, so you can envision him opening more ice and feeding left winger Thomas Vanek at some point in the future. He was on the Canucks’ second power-play unit, too. Perhaps he can find chemistry with Nathan Gerbe and Ville Leino in the coming years and Brad Boyes this season. Who knows? He could be a young Daniel Briere.

It could be an ideal fit.

So far, it all sounds good.

Let’s not start the celebration just yet. If I’ve learned anything over the years, it’s to reserve judgment on Regier’s decisions and not overreact to what appeared to be a good move. Expectations soared when he added three players last summer, but the Sabres were in 12th place Monday. It’s a recent example among many.

Remember, the object is winning the whole thing. To me, the Sabres weren’t big enough and tough enough before the deadline, and they came away smaller and softer afterward. Kassian is a big winger who was physical when willing. At times, he was the only one playing with bite that had been missing for far too long. He could turn into the nasty power forward Buffalo has been missing (see: Lucic, Milan).

The Sabres are puny down the middle with lightweights Roy and Hodgson tipping the scales at 185 pounds and featherweight Tyler Ennis all of 157 pounds. Questions remain about whether Hodgson, who had back problems last season, will validate predictions that he was a can’t-miss No. 1 center in the NHL.

Hodgson’s stats are impressive when you consider he played less than 13 minutes a night, but they’re less so when you realize he had been playing against the third defense pairings while opposing teams tried matching up with the Sedin twins and Kesler on the first two lines. He’ll get more ice time in Buffalo, but he might not be as effective with less talent around him.

And there’s this simple question: Whom would you trust more to make the proper evaluation at this stage, Canucks GM Mike Gillis or Regier?

…Was Monday a good day Buffalo? Short-term, probably not. Long-term, let’s wait and see.

In short: looks like a good trade, but this is a very guarded assessment. It almost seems like it was written to correct his previous column, in which he missed the mark in roasting Regier pre-deadline:

What should Regier do Monday?

Not much of anything, really.

OK, perhaps he could ship out pending free agents Paul Gaustad and Brad Boyes for midround draft picks or prospects in cap-clearing deals. But if there’s even a sliver of doubt inside the organization about retaining Regier — and there is — he should otherwise keep his hands off the roster.

You want Derek Roy or Drew Stafford or Ryan Miller on the next bus out of town? Fine, but that’s a decision for the next GM. The sooner Pegula and his upper-management team realize Regier is not the man who will build a Cup winner, the sooner they can get to work on winning one.

At this stage, Regier can’t be trusted to lead the Sabres in the right direction. Any move Monday should be greeted with suspicion because there’s a good chance he’ll make the wrong one. Anyway, there aren’t enough players available who can rescue this team after so many listless efforts and so many losses.

The damage is done.

Oops. Remember, this is the 1st full season of Regier/Pegula. GM’s can be defined by their owners, or at least by the constraints of their owners’ wallets. This is no longer the Golisano/Regier Era, and the future performance of Darcy should not be judged as such. Pegula/Regier is an entirely different animal.

Meanwhile, in Vancouver, Hodgson’s ability was clear, as was the impact of his loss to the Canucks. Or was it? From an Elliot Pap column in the Vancouver Sun, from yesterday:

Here’s the first thought that came to mind when word came down the Canucks had dealt 2008 first-round pick Cody Hodgson to the Buffalo Sabres for 2009 first-round pick Zack Kassian: Is this Markus Naslund and Alek Stojanov all over again, only in reverse?

In 1996, former Canucks GM Pat Quinn acquired Naslund from the Pittsburgh Penguins. Naslund was a skill forward, not terribly big, and a first-round pick who was chaffing with his playing opportunities behind the likes of Mario Lemieux and Jaromir Jagr.

Stojanov, like Kassian, was huge (6-4, 230), had a mean streak and was considered more than pure cement. He had butted heads with Eric Lindros in junior and was expected to do that again in the NHL against not only Lindros, but all the large players of the day. He was also a first-round pick. In fact, he went nine spots ahead of Naslund in the 1991 entry draft. (Stojanov was the seventh overall pick, Naslund the 16th.)

We probably don’t need to tell you how Naslund-Stojanov turned out. Naslund struggled for a couple of seasons in Vancouver before blossoming into the best left-winger in the NHL, an Art Ross runner-up, a Ted Lindsay award winner, long-team team captain and the Canucks’ all-time leading scorer. Naslund’s No. 19 Canuck jersey was raised to the rafters last season.

Stojanov, meanwhile, was plagued with shoulder problems and played just 45 games as a Penguin, scoring two goals. Naslund scored 346 for the Canucks in 884 games. That trade is widely regarded as one of the most lopsided deals in NHL history.

…In any case, all trades take time to shake out.

How will we look back on Hodgson-Kassian in five years? Hopefully for long-suffering Canuck fans, it will be a positive one.

The comparison to the Naslund/Stojanov trade is a fun read but is, at best, just more guarded speculation. Although it does hint at the offense Hodgson will bring to Buffalo, it actually defines nothing concrete. 487w" sizes="(max-width: 300px) 100vw, 300px" />

Sports analysis should not be fence sitting, no matter how cute it reads.

Meanwhile, Iain MacIntye of the Sun had this to offer up:

We don’t know how good Cody Hodgson might have become for the Vancouver Canucks.

We know he can score, but we don’t know how much. Will he be merely good or great? Is his offensive ceiling 60 points or 90? Would he have developed into a leader, a captain? Could he have helped the Canucks win a Stanley Cup?

And the problem with judging this stunning trade is we probably would never have known how good Hodgson could be in Vancouver because he was stuck behind centres Henrik Sedin and Ryan Kesler and was not going to get the minutes to be a star here.

…It will be years before Hodgson or Kassian becomes whatever it is they’re going to be in the NHL.

Years? He is already 3rd on the Sabres in goals, tied for 6th in assists, and 4th in points. Heck, he’s a Calder candidate – was the rookie of the month in January, and is second in goals scored for all rooks.

Yes, he’s going to spend more time in top 6 minutes now, and thus against better defensive pairings. But, as we pointed out here yesterday, he’ll also see more power play time, and likely will butter his stats with some ice time between snipers Vanek and Pominville.

Kassian needs more development before we know just how good he may be, but from what we saw from him in Rochester and Buffalo, there are concerns over his progress already. The future for CoHo is now – he’s been dynamic at the NHL level, and will only get better. We have “years to go,” yes. But we also have measurable performance and stats to back it up.

Guarded assessments aside, I abhor how all of those columns ended.

…Was Monday a good day Buffalo? Short-term, probably not. Long-term, let’s wait and see.


…In any case, all trades take time to shake out.

How will we look back on Hodgson-Kassian in five years? Hopefully for long-suffering Canuck fans, it will be a positive one.


…It will be years before Hodgson or Kassian becomes whatever it is they’re going to be in the NHL.

That’s our expert analysis from Vancouver and Buffalo? That’s disappointing press. It’s magic 8 ball stuff. It’s safe, wait and see, ne’er-be-wrong-now-or-years-from-now fluff.

This whole Kassian/Hodgson thing is pretty darn clear. Top six-ish grinder for a top 6 scorer. Hodgson is a hell of a hockey player.

No one is truly this incredibly baffled over the futures of Kassian and Hodgson in the NHL. The real let-down is in the lack of insight in these columns.

There’s nothing wrong with a little excitement, folks. Don’t let the doubt-mongers dull your senses.

Go Sabres.

Edit: Oh yea – “Who won this trade?” Well, between sportswriters, we’ll call it a definite draw.

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The Ehrhoff Signing: a Vancouver Perspective

“Don’t hassle the Ehrhoff.”

There’s your banner for the 300 level.

Fans in Buffalo were pleased and shocked when the Sabres traded for the rights to negotiate with and then signed Christian Ehrhoff – pleased because a player of his caliber decided to come to Buffalo, and shocked because a player of his caliber decided to come to Buffalo. He didn’t come cheap. From the Vancouver Sun:

Ehrhoff, 28, was seeking a huge raise on the $3.1 million he made in 2010-11 and Vancouver Canucks GM Gillis apparently couldn’t entice the German to accept Kevin Bieksa-type money of $4.6 million per season.

Ehrhoff was a mainstay on the Canucks’ No. 1 power-play unit and collected 50 points last season. He had 42 points in 2009-10, his first with Vancouver.

“Playing on this team is more important than individual compensation and that’s our expectation with everybody,” Gillis continued. “It will work with some and it may not work with others. If he [Ehrhoff] is unwilling to accept what we think is fair and allows us to be competitive, then we’ll move in a different direction.”

A player with Ehrhoff’s puck-moving and power-play ability should command north of $5 million.

Ehrhoff was thusly dealt away to the New York Islanders, who then failing to sign him, dealt him to Buffalo, where we now scoff at phrases such as “Bieksa-type money,” and even the surly Golisano-esque “Playing on this team is more important than individual compensation.” 594w" sizes="(max-width: 300px) 100vw, 300px" />

The 'Hoff getting hassled. By a New Jersey Devil. Rod Pelly, you better stay on the bench the next time we see you.

In Buffalo, “should commend north of $5 million” translated into $10 million for Ehrhoff, along with a $8 million signing bonus, for the 2011-12 season. 2012-13 will award him $8 million, with another “signing bonus” $5 million. From there, he’ll make $4 million until the 2017-18 season, where he drops to $3 million, and then to $1 million through the 2018-19 to 2020-21 seasons. All told, that’s $53 million over ten seasons – but hey, if you do your “Pegula Math,” that averages out to $5.3 million per season, and with a cap hit of $4 million per.

Turns out, over the long, long, long run, the money is right where it should be. Right? How much can we really expect as a return on our dollar?

Here’s more from Vancouver, from the Sun’s Sports Blog, which at least touches on his past accomplishments:

Ehrhoff will be greatly missed for his dynamic offense. While the German-born defender wasn’t much of a shutdown guy, his mobility, offensive awareness, and his shot made him a threat to score from just about anywhere. Seriously, anywhere. Ehrhoff has a tendency to put himself out of position on occasional forays into the untold depths of the O-zone, but he also has a tendency to score beautiful goals from those same spots (and don’t you worry: all these clips have happy endings).

Ladies and gentlemen: let every goal Christian Ehrhoff scored last season be his swansong.

Bang on the link above, to check out video of all of Ehrhoff’s goals from last season (though it may take you a little while to watch all 14 of them).

We’ll close with some quips from “Lighthouse Hockey,” who brings some perspective from Ehrhoff’s home in Long Island for all of 20 hours (and also adds some more insight into the Sabres current cap crisis):

Ten years, huh? TEN years for a defenseman! Here that team goes again. They never learned from that Alexei Yashin deal and they never learned from that Rick DiPietro deal.

‘Cause here those crazy Islanders go again, with a 10-year contract — to a non-star defenseman, no less. And they’re paying him EIGHTEEN MILLION in just the first two seasons alone.

Now granted, it tails off in the final four years to lessen the cap hit and dance around the salary cap (which all NHL teams should do, if they are in the blessed club that can get away with it).

Wait … what’s that, you say? …

You say the contract are actually between the Buffalo Sabres and Christian Ehrhoff…?

Fantastic deal then. What moves! Such guts and commitment to winning! You can tell this franchise really cares!

Boy, they’re really doing some great things in Buffalo, what with adding Ville Leino for six years at $4.5 million per to a collection that already includes Tomas Vanek for an eternity at over $7 million annually, and Jason Pominville at $5.3 million annually with a no-trade clause(!), to go with $6.25 million for the star goalie, and the $4 million still left on the contract for that 17-goal scorer who scored 40 goals that one time, long before they spent a draft pick to add him.

Now that is what I call putting your money where your mouth is, in all the right pl… well in some places, anyway.

Why, that franchise is so committed to winning, they even brought back Ales Kotalik and his $3 million salary — never mind that he hasn’t performed like an NHLer in three seasons and has been rejected by every team from Alberta to Manhattan. It’s just great to see such commitment and dedication in Buffalo.

Money, money, money. All the dollar bills in the world won’t make a lick of difference if these signings help bring a Stanley Cup to Buffalo. And that’s where most of the criticism tails off.

Yes, the Sabres have over-paid on contracts, but that is not unusual for NHL teams in this age that are aiming to be more than just competitive. The Sabres “only reason for existence is to win a Stanley Cup,” as every Sabres fan knows very well by now. Let Regier toss his Pegula Bucks around.  Let the green fall where it may.

And let Lord Stanley fall right in our laps.

That’s the only thing that matters to us now.

Go Sabres.

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The Vancouver Riots, and What it all Means for Buffalo


They say that it’s within us all.

The Heart of Darkness,” a book by Joseph Conrad, is a story you may be very familiar with, having been the inspiration for the movie “Apocalypse Now.”  It’s a tale that exposes three ugly truths:

“The darkness of the Congo wilderness, the darkness of the Europeans’ cruel treatment of the natives, and the unfathomable darkness within every human being for committing heinous acts of evil.”

Last night, after the Canucks lost Game Seven of the Stanley Cup Final, the people of Vancouver got ugly, they got destructive, evil, and had succumbed to that dark heart.   Rioting in the streets, they burned cars, looted stores, running primitive and rampant like wild beasts within their own beautiful civilization.  For the sake of capping off the book’s analogy, think of the “wilderness” as the long descent into the anxiety of a very long playoff tun, and the “cruel treatment” as simple modern-era struggles of our time.

Today, social medias like Twitter are alight with condemnation, and rightfully so, for the people of Vancouver and what they unleashed from themselves and into their city last night.  But how far removed are we from them?  Should we really be casting stones, so to speak, or should we try instead to understand how this happened?

More importantly – could this happen in Buffalo, and what do these latest riots mean for the future fan experience of the NHL? 586w" sizes="(max-width: 300px) 100vw, 300px" />

Welcome to the jungle.

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