Archive for February, 2013

Down Graded: Sabres are Black and Blue

Posted: February 25, 2013 in Sports

If you watch the Buffalo Sabres play the Islanders on Saturday you saw an uninspired team yet again. The Sabres seem to be adrift in the depths of the bottom of the NHL.. They have fired their coach, they have made small roster moves, and yet it’s the same effort as earlier in the season.  So, now what so they do?

Like most issues in sports it starts at the top. The Sabres owner has been nowhere to be found this year. He doesn’t show is face and seeming lets Ted Black do all the talking.  With that being said Mr. Black does allow fans to call him when he is on WGR550, Mr. Black can be reaches via email, but time and time again Mr. Black seems to use the Mr. Pegula has money card way too much.  What good is all of his money if all Mr. Pegula is doing is making things look nice? How many coats of paint do the Buffalo Sabers fans need to see? What fans needs and deserve is the owner who said “”reason for existence” would be to win the Stanley Cup.  It’s time that Mr. Pegula stops being a super fan and makes the changes that need to be made. Maybe, he just doesn’t know how to do that. I have very few doubts that Mr. Pegulais a great person, and owner, but right now being a great person and owner does not mean a thing unless he and the rest of his people can find a way to win.

Ron Rolston getting a shot at fixing this mess, but what can one expect from someone who really is not going to get a full chance to make this work? Rolston will get very few practices, and maybe even less time to work out his style of play. Ultimately his interview is going to be played out in Ruff’s system. For the remainder of this year I don’t think we can say the Sabres made the wrong coaching move, because Rolston really doesn’t have the time to be the coach.  His job is to sort out the mess of players, and see who is willing to work and who is going to be a coach killer.

This year’s mess really falls on the players and Darcy Regier. This is the group of players he chooses to use. Darcy made the trades; he decided that this was the direction the Sabres needed to go in order to win.  Looks like he made one really big mistake; judging from this season Darcy was way off point. At what point will Darcy’s job be in danger? If it is not already, it should be. This is his mess, his baby if you will, and yet he seems to sit back and watch this horror show play out. If Ruff couldn’t coach these guys, then Darcy should not be running the Sabres anymore. As for the players; they have proven time and time again they do not want to play hockey this year. Game after uninspired game; they give Buffalo a bad name. As Herb Brooks said, “You’re looking for players whose name on the front of the sweater is more important than the one on the back” And right now there is no heart in that locker room. It may be time for big drastic trades. The Sabres may need to move Jason Pominville, they may need to move Miller, or Vanek. Some hard decisions need to be made, and they need to be made right now. Not in a week, not in a month now.

I don’t think this is a blow everything up year, but it is a remake the team year. The Sabres started breaking up the old core, and it is time to finish the job. Before the lockout players said they would show fans how sorry they are about the lockout. Well, if this is their idea of an apology they can keep it. It’s time to get to work, not pack it in and say better luck next year. Do the work, and earn your pay checks. If the everyday person performed the way the Sabres play at their jobs, they wouldn’t have a job. There are a bunch of sports clichés that will be tossed around during interviews. All I want to hear is, “we are sorry, this is not oaky, and we as a team will bust our butts to get it right.”

 

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Good Bye Lindy…

Posted: February 21, 2013 in Sports

It’s a new day for the Buffalo Sabres. For the first time since the 97-98 season Lindy Ruff will not be on the Sabres bench. Fans and some media types have been calling for Lindy to lose his job for a while now. Yesterday that wish came true. At times I have been one of the voices calling for his job. However, don’t be too quick to judge Lindy.

Without question Ruff is one of the best coaches to work in the NHL in a very long time. His 15 years with one team is a record, and the effect he had on Buffalo will not be easily filled. Ruff, who often came across as defensive, and a little tough has had his moments. There were times you could see and hear the love he has for Buffalo, and the Sabres. Ruff was not the type of person to walk away from a challenge; that may be why he hung on to his job for so long. His determination and fight is something that over time I believe will be missed behind the Sabres bench. With that being said there is no question that it was time for Ruff to move on.

Over the past few years Ruff’s message has lost it audience. The Sabres as a team have gotten younger, and Ruff has not been able to change his method of coaching. Lindy also has a history of butting heads with some of his players. That aspect of his coaching is something I always liked. I for one do not need a coach that every player loves, but I do need a coach that the players listen to and put forth an effort worthy of the fans money.

Lindy will most likely catch on in another city, and I don’t for see his unemployment being a long period of time. He is highly respected throughout the NHL, and among many front offices.  No matter where he ends up I believe that Ruff will be highly thought of by Buffalo fans and players as well. Like most coaches there comes a time when nothing works, and fans will call for his job.  For Lindy Ruff fans have been calling for his job for years.  There are no more excuses for the Sabres.

 Fans finally got what they wanted, but is it what was needed. Time will answer that question. However, with the exiting of Lindy it creates a void in the Buffalo Sabres. Who will take over for the long term? The list is never ending, and I don’t know who will be best. I do know that getting what you wanted can sometimes turn out to be not what you needed. I hope for the Sabres and fans alike this turns out to be the right choice. Not just for this season but for the next 10 years. Lindy did need to go, but it is a weird time in Buffalo sports. Ruff has been the head coach for half of my life. On a personal level Sabres hockey will never be the same. The bench will look like different, the team will have a different feel, and hopefully the Sabres will play differently. As the winds of change continue to alter the Buffalo sports landscape fans and the city alike will need to view things through a new set of eyes. The exiting of Lindy Ruff has put Darcy and the rest of the Sabres front office on the clock.

Short take on the Bills

Posted: February 15, 2013 in Sports

The Buffalo Bills are making sure the league and fans alike understand it is a new day at One Bills Drive. Over the past week the Bills have been cleaning house; releasing several veterans. This should make for a great off season.

No matter what you think about the Bills; it is hard to deny the fact that changes are everywhere.   Not only have the Bills signed a new lease with Erie County and New York State, they will be putting $35 million of their own money into the Ralf, and by the look of things they are not stopping there.

With Free agency and the draft still to come the Bills look to be positioning themselves for a very busy off season; with needs all over the field; most notably at the QB, LB and S positions. They also need to find a WR, a TE and a RB. With so many needs and only a hand full of draft picks; the Buffalo Bills will need to be a player on every level.  

Fans of the Bills are hoping that the new front office understands how to build a team. Much like with the Sabres, fans are sick of not making a post season run. There is no doubt that the Bills are on the clock, and so is the front office. Time will tell if the personal and new coaches can mesh. One can only hope that the cap moves that have been made are in part to make sure that happens.

If taken at face value I like the new direction. It seems to be quick and decisive, leaving little room to question the new direction of the Bills. It’s nice to see the new coaches and front office taking a hard look at the team and making the necessary moves to allow them to find and bring in their style of player. Fans and players wanted change, well here you go.  By no means is this a whole sale rebuilding year, but it is really close to that. With the right Free Agent signings, the Bills should be better than in the past. If they can’t figure this out in a few years I hope that the front office is as quick to change it up as they have been this off season. Cheers to the winds of change.

 

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Same old stuff: Blue and tarnished Gold

Posted: February 11, 2013 in Sports

Year after year, and game after game it the same old stuff. The Buffalo Sabres yet again had nothing to show. Last night vs. the Bruins the Sabres fell flat. For the first 20 minutes it seemed like there may be hope, but after the first intermission that hope faded into a familiar image; a struggling team that couldn’t find a way to put a complete game together.  Yet again the Sabres looked flat, and unorganized.

Lindy Ruff still can’t figure out a way to motivate his young team. It has gotten so bad that the Sabres 6 million dollar defenseman was a healthy scratch. He was forced to watch his team from the press box. Myers who has been billed as the future of the Sabres defense for years to come has looked more like a journey man this year. Ruff has turned to his constant lineup changes, and  shifting players from one line to another trying to find something that looks like a hockey team, only to fall short again. At some point the ax needs to fall. The only question is who will be under it when it does?

The Buffalo Sabres were built to win a Stanly Cup now, or so we the fans have been told. I can’t help but question the managing style of the owner. It has been almost two years sense Pagula bought his favorite team. Not much has changed in those two years. Making me ask the question; did the Sabres get an owner who can give this city a cup, or did the city just get a super fan to run Buffalo’s team? Yes it is Buffalo’s team. The fans fill the seats. The fans buy the merchandise, and the fan are their reason the First Niagara Center and the Buffalo Sabres have added seating. It is starting to look like the team is pulling one over on the fans. Are the fans fools for loving a team that shows them no respect?

The Sabres are just about ¼ of the way through this season, and there has yet to be that defining moment. A moment that shows everyone there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Without question a major shakeup is needed, but where does one start? The coach is staying, or so we have been told. The GM just got contract extension, and our “top” defensemen had to it yesterday. The Sabres have an 18 year old Russian Grigorenko. Who is averaging 11.478 minutes a game over his last five games, and only has 2 points to show for it. Keeping in mind he is only 18 years old and is a rookie I don’t expect much more than what he is doing, but the Sabres are going to need more out of him. Right now the Sabres have very little offense, and a truly bad defense. Their goaltending is not all that great right now; however Miller has made a bunch of great saves. It’s the ones the Sabres need him to make that he seems to be having a hard time with. In the three main areas of the game, the Sabres are going zero for three. This team may just have too many character players, and not enough top talent. You can’t win many games with only one line.

Like most years there is always next year. However, isn’t it time that Buffalo didn’t have to think that only a ¼ of the way into a season? There is always next week and next month as well, but if there is not a major turn around, and shake up it is going to be too late. Hockey Heaven can turn into Hockey Hell really fast. I hope for the Sabres they open their eyes and see that this is not a cup team; it may not even be a playoff team. With respect I ask that someone in the Sabres organization open their eyes and see what most people see. A team that is well short of the promised goal. The fans deserve more, the city deserves more, and frankly the players and coaches need to do more.

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Sabres: Now what?

Posted: February 8, 2013 in Sports

Now what? That is a question being asked my almost every Sabres fan. What do we do now? How did we get here, and how can we dig our way out? Honestly there is no short answer. There is no magic spell that can undo the course of the 2013 season. Hopefully something will shake loose and the beloved Sabres will find their edge.

There is a major flaw in the management chain in Buffalo.  It seems like the same old thing is good enough. Let me go on the record and say it is not okay. It has never been okay, and it will not be okay a month from now. If the Sabres find a way to crawl into the final playoff spot at the end of the season; some fans will be okay with it. I will not be. After 30 years of watching this team play, I have had my fill of slow starts and heartless play.

They Sabres can’t get any scoring out of three of their four lines. Their defense can’t seem to get out of their own way, and the “all star” goalie is letting in over three goals a game. Does that sound like a good team? Does that sound like a team to be happy with? I love the Sabres, always have. But, let’s keep it real. They have a ton of issues. It seems like the Sabres only have a handful of true NHL players right now.

Yesterday Darcy Regier came out and said there are no plans to fire Lindy Ruff. Okay, that’s fine. But, maybe it’s Darcy that needs to go. Knowing that will not happen is hard to stomach. Sabres brass seems okay with the combination of Ruff and Regier. I for one do not understand what they are scared of. If a shakeup is needed then in this case it should be from the top down.  This team while only having a few players doing their job right now has talent. There are players on this team that may respond better to a different atmosphere. But, that’s not going to happen. Now what? Who do you move?

If you move Vanek, you had better get a ton of talent back. He has been your offense. Can you move Miller? I wouldn’t mind that move, but there really is not an NHL goalie in the Sabres system. How about Stafford or Leopold? There really are not a lot of moves to make right now. There is always Rochester. If I had to guess the Sabres may need to package a NHL player and an AHL player. Maybe the Sabres move Pysyk out of Rochester. It would be uncharacteristic of Darcy to make a trade before the deadline, but he is running out of choices. Something needs to be done.

The Buffalo Sabres are sitting in the 14th spot right now with 9 points; only 1 point out of a playoff spot and only 7 points off the top pace. There is time; this is not a fire sale season. With the right moves, and right motivation this Sabres team can, and should be able to make a run. They need to keep pace, and get a few wins that they don’t deserve. Hopefully we start to see the Sabres team that showed up against Boston. If the Sabres showed some fight last night while playing the Canadians. A hybrid of those two games should lead to a playoff berth. My only request is that the Sabres make the right moves, and do it soon while there is still time to salvage this season.

 

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Tyler Myers

Posted: February 5, 2013 in Sports

With their 1st pick in the 2008 NHL draft; the Buffalo Sabres selected Tyler Myers; a 6’8” 227 pound defensemen. Myers was born in Houston, Texas on February 1, 1990. He played most of his hockey in Canada; where he was on the Canadian National Jr. Team.

Myers has always been a good skater. He has the ability o move the puck quickly out of his zone. Not only can he skate, it was thought that Myers could be productive on the offensive side of the game. He has won many awards in the WHL, and has won a few NHL awards as well. In 2008-2009 Tyler was honored with the Top Draft Pick Award, 2nd Team All-Star and Playoff MVP in the WHL. In 2009 when won Myers dressed in the Blue and Gold of the Sabres, he won the Calder Memorial Trophy for the Rookie of the year. Myers was also named to the NHL All Rookie Team. Unfortunately for Tyler that’s were all the good play has ended.

After putting up 48 points in 2009-2010; Myers has seen a steady decline in production putting up 37 points in 2010-2011, and only 23 points in the 2011-2012 season (55 games played). This year Myers is lucky to still be on the ice. He has only 1 point and is a -6 in 9 games. With all of his upside Tyler seems to be a mistake machine. He can’t get out of his own way this year. For that matter, Myers has not lived up to much of the hype. He has been a liability the past two year. This year in a shortened season and the start of his 7 year $38.5 million contract Myers seems to have fooled every one. Understanding he is only 23 years old, there is time for Tyler to save his career.

The 6’8” Myers still needs to pick a style of play. He was drafted to be the big D-man, mean physical, and keep people away from the fragile Ryan Miller. So far Tyler has been the complete opposite of that. He is shy alone the boards, and doesn’t have the mentality of a basher. He seems to be lacking the basic skills this year. It appears Myers wants to be the skating, offensive defenseman. Not unlike former D man Brian Campbell. The only problem with that is Myers doesn’t seem to have the drive to be that either.

It is time to sit the kid, and not just for a game or two. At this point in time Myers is a liability on the ice, and may be in his own head. Some time away for this mess may help him. Tyler has been playing all year. He played in Austria during the lockout. He suffered ankle injury while in Austria. Now that injury is fully healed. Myers has no excesses for his play, and doesn’t seem to have any answers. On one hand the Sabres have him under contract for 7 years, so the Sabres have time for him to figure it out. On the other hand Myers play may very well help get his coach fired. A new coach may not think of Myers as a number 1 D man. With the Sabres not scoring there is no room for a struggling top pick. I would not trade him now, but if this doesn’t turn around in the next year or two it may be worth looking into. The fact of the matter is Myers is not a top defenseman right now. He is playing like a 3 or a 4 on the chart. Hopefully he can fit there.

 

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Excuse me Mr. Pegula

Posted: February 3, 2013 in Sports

Fist I’d like to say an overdue thank you for buying the Buffalo Sabres. However what is going on over there? Coming out of a lockout this is the effort your team is giving? It is nothing short of a slap in the face of ever fan that dawns the Blue and Gold. It just goes to show money doesn’t always equal wins, and being a fan doesn’t make for a good owner. As with most things it takes time to learn how to do something new. Hopefully learning how to spend your Billions comes quickly.

While it was nice of Mr. Pegula to fix up the First Niagara Center; cup holders next to a urinal is a far cry from winning the Cup. TV’s in the restrooms don’t help the team either. I do think remodeling the player’s locker room, and adding treatment rooms do help the Sabres, but what else are you going to do. Right now it’s all show and no go. It’s one thing to say we will win the cup, but it is another to not show any one you are serious.

So far this year it has been the same old Sabres; some new pieces, and the same slow start.  Year after year under Lindy Ruff this has been the case. I do believe that Ruff is a good coach; however it would be nice to hear someone in the Sabres organization say this cannot happen. It is not okay and if it doesn’t change there will be mass changes. Instead we hear about ticket sales, and merchandise sales. The fans deserve real answers, not the back speak we hear every day.

The fans were promised effort, and heart. They were told by your players how sorry the team was about the lock out. Where is the effort? If this is the Sabres idea of effort, and their idea of an apology; someone needs to have a very long talk with the staff.  The fans in Buffalo and around the country have stood by the Sabres for over 40 years now. It is about time the Sabres stand up for their fans.

Mr. Pegula has made change that effect only the fans and media that can afford to go see a game. To the fan that is sitting at home watching the game with his or her child the only thing that matters is the on ice product. Most fans do not go to the FNC. Most fans care about seeing a win, and watch hockey. When will you do something for them?

It is time for the owner to speak up. When is the last time that he said anything? Honestly I can’t recall. The Buffalo Sabres fans deserve to hear how he feels, and without any excuses. Mr. Pegula you called this hockey heaven. With heaven there is a Hell and you may need to put some peoples feet to the fire to change this season. It is time to fix the on ice problems, not make the FNC look better. If you win it they will come.

 

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