Lets first start out by saying most of this topic is completely based on rumors. It’s essentially a report that stated the Sabres might be sold eventually to a report that said a letter of intent has been signed to an official statement saying that no letter of intent for $150 million has been signed. So, now that that’s out-of-the-way..
What does all of this mean? That is if it does happen.
Lets look back a bit, at a worst case scenario and citing solely the original Boston Globe report. That story simply mentioned that Golisano is looking to sell the team. Both Terry Pegula and Jim Balsillie were named as possible buyers. I read that and cringed. It’s no secret that Balsillie will do anything in his power to get a team relocated in Hamilton. Bettman has stated in the past he did not want to move Buffalo and that any relocation would require a league vote but still, there’s the chance and I didn’t want there to be one.
Early today, The Hockey News gave us some more information. Something to get excited over instead of sick to our stomachs over. They stated that Terry Pegula, a billionaire who made his riches from natural gas and oil on Pennsylvania, had signed a letter of intent to buy the team for $150 million. No more Balsillie in the picture and on top of that someone who’s passionate about hockey may wind up atop the Sabres’ org chart. Does this mean no more self-inflicted salary cap? More pressure for ownership for this team to do something? The capability to hold onto our free agents? Is this the guy that’s going to finally bring the cup to Buffalo?
After a morning of rampant speculation we then had a response from Larry Quinn stating that there has been no letter of intent signed for $150 million. Instead of dousing the wildfire of rumors it simply fanned them spurring on ideas that maybe it was for $151 million, maybe more. The fact he was so specific was almost like saying the team is officially sold. We’ve later heard that this may not be the case and no letter of intent has been signed. Well, maybe they’re going to sign it tonight?
I have no problem with Golisano as an owner. He saved this team from bankruptcy and kept them in NY. He’s stated in the past that he would never sell the team to a party that would move it out of the city. I even spent a few years in one of his buildings. All of that aside, he never really seemed that passionate about this team. It was fairly clear he bought it for political gains but you have to respect him for not dumping it the instant he dropped out of politics. When he moved out-of-state last year the writing was on the wall, we all knew he wasn’t going to own the team forever.
news rumors for sure. However where there’s smoke there’s usually fire so I’d be surprised if Golisano owned this team at the end of the season. Lets just sit back and see how this plays out.
From last night’s Sabres vs Leafs game.
Best part is that he was with his son, who had on a Montreal Jersey.
It’s no secret that RIT needs a new hockey arena. Since going division 1 and having an amazing run last year Ritter Arena has been packed and virtually always a sell out. During Brick City weekend RIT sold out the much larger Blue Cross Arena, something other local teams haven’t been able to do in years. Go to any game at Ritter and when you see the “standing room only” you know it’s time for something bigger.
Well, that time has come. Last week RIT kicked off the Power Play campaign to raise $15 million to fund the new arena. With some help from Stephen and Vicki Schultz’s $1 million gift the project is off to a good start. For the first time since graduating I have the urge to give back to the Alma Mater.
Once completed the new arena should house somewhere between 4,000 and 6,000 fans. A far cry from the current capacity of 2100 at Ritter Arena which will continue to stay open even after the new arena is built.
Exciting news for the RIT community, especially as RIT hockey has turned their season around and are winning games now.
A couple of weeks ago I picked out a few reasons as to why the Sabres were a horrible team. Since then a lot has changed and many of problems this team had have seemed to disappear. They have earned 9 out of a possible 12 points in their last 6 games, winning 2 games in a row at home, something that seemed impossible a few short weeks ago. They’ve climbed from worst in the league to 3 spots out of a playoff spot. All this during one of the toughest stretches of the season so far, facing teams like Washington and Vancouver and coming out on top.
First off this team plays like it wants to win for a change. Monday night Vancouver stormed back at the end to rally and close a 2 goal deficit. The old Sabres team would fold and all but give up. The opposite happened, an amazing penalty kill at the end of the third and a hard-fought OT period gave them the win. Wednesday night against Washington, down 3 goals, they fought hard and not only got 2 quick goals to get them back in it but they dominated the third period giving them a decent chance to pull off the win, falling just short of doing so.
The Sabres needed players to be hero’s. And with the exception of Derek Roy that spot on the team was empty. That too has changed with the rise of Vanek who was off to a slow start this season, having many chances but never seeming to come up with the goal. He has seemed to gain some confidence in the recent games and it shows with a few multiple goal games and an amazing overtime winner. Ennis is turning into one of the better forwards on the team and Hecht has picked his game up recently also. They went from having no playmakers to multiples. Tyler Myers has even started to turn his game around netting the OT winner Monday night (even though he is still -9 on the season).
Rivet has been an unhealthy/healthy scratch for a while now. Normally that would be bad for on ice leadership but it seems to be just the opposite. A team with no captain has played like they’re a “team” more than any other time this year. It’s clear the C needs to reside on another jersey and there’s a handful of available candidates, only question is if Ruff will make the change. Word is that Rivet will be back sometime this weekend so we’ll see what happens.
Saying Ryan Miller started out slow this year is a bit of an understatement. He spent the first few weeks towards the bottom of the goalie stats…stats he dominated in years past. Turns out the Vezina hangover I thought he might have had was “just” a bum knee. After a few games off to get healthy, and an impressive showing from Enroth, it seems that was the cause of his issues. He seems to be a different net-minder now that he’s back making those saves we’ve become use to. He’s still not putting up superstar stats but he’s keeping the Sabres in games again, something we needed.
Like many I was calling for Ruff’s head during their losing streak, not because I think he’s a bad coach but more because the team needed a shake-up. Looking at his track record, Ruff hasn’t exactly over-achieved in his time at Buffalo and maybe it was time for a change of guard. However, him being able to pull the team out of this rut they were in says a lot. Lets just see if they can carry the momentum forward, if not this may be the last season Ruff is in Buffalo.
Another test comes tonight when the Kings come to town, a team on a bit of a roll themselves. The Sabres went from win-less at home to winning 2 in a row. If they can keep that streak alive and earn 2 more wins this weekend (Tampa is in town Saturday night) then maybe we can lower the cover on the panic button. The Sabres aren’t out of this hole yet but they at least have their heads above the surface.
I’ve probably watched this 20 times since last night and probably will another 20 times today. A home win with an amazing ending against the number one team in the league. In the last 4 games the Sabres have scored 7 out of 8 available points. If last night didn’t cap off a run to get them out of this rut nothing will. Not to mention the relief Vanek has to feel with a multiple goal game…including on like that.
So now that the Sabres have finally won at home is it time for the Bills to next?
The panic button has been pressed and it’s time to admit the Sabres are a bad hockey team. It may still early in the season but it’s clear that this team needs some dramatic changes and key players to step it up in order to right this ship. Here, in my mind, are the top 5 issues this team faces.
Coaching – I’ve never been on the fire Lindy bandwagon. Not last season after the disappointing playoff loss or the seasons before after being playoff no-shows. That was until last week. The number one problem with this team is lack of motivation. It’s not solely the coaches job to get a team to put in 100% every game but they’re a big part of it. Coaches in the NHL aren’t exactly teaching players how to skate. They’re more motivators than teachers, trying to get their team to work together as one and play at their best. Whether it’s through game plans or in between period shout-fests, the coach has to get their team ready to play at its highest level. It’s clear that Lindy has lost this ability.
Not only will a new coach bring in a new viewpoint but the firing of a coach, who currently has 999 games under his belt for the Sabres, might be the wake-up call this team needs. Proof that ownership and management is tired of the same story season after season and they’re ready to do something about it. Lindy is too comfortable. If he’s not fearful of losing his job (which I don’t think his is) Darcy should at least be in his office reminding him there are plenty of other people willing to coach an NHL team.
On Ice Leadership – When a team benches their captain you know they have leadership issues. Rivet came into Buffalo and was immediately assigned the C. I was a bit skeptical at first but after thinking it through it was a young team and he was one of the few who had the experience required for the job. Essentially he became the captain because no one else had the requirements.
Since then I haven’t thought much about it. Rivet’s worn the C and that was it. Thinking back though that’s not really a good thing. We never saw him step up in a moment of need and give the team that extra push they needed. The only mention of him as a captain was the occasional practice after a rough game where he would call a players only meeting to try to regroup them. A captain should be at the forefront of this team and remind us every game why he’s wearing that letter. You’re not a captain if you’re blending in with the rest of the team, that was Rivet’s problem.
His benching was an obvious sign this team is leaderless. The C on Rivet’s chest has a limited lease at this point and where it’ll end up is anyone’s guess and a-whole-nother topic of discussion. The only question left in this saga is will he get another chance and step it up when he does. He’s been in the league for a long time and this could be the beginning of the end for him. I’m sure this isn’t how he wanted to go out.
Ryan Miller – If you told me a year ago I’d be writing a list of problems the Sabres had and Ryan Miller was on it, I’d probably have done my best to find a new team to root for this year. Miller has been a pillar of this team for years. He’s been our superstar and the one to dig us out of holes on a regular basis.
This season that isn’t the case. Call it a Vezina hangover or whatever you’d like but Miller is no longer that superstar goalie. I hate to admit it but Lalime looks just as good as Miller this year and that’s not saying Lalime has improved. Miller is 29th in sv% and 20th in GAA. Last year he finished the season second place in both categories. Take out the couple good games he’s had and it gets ugly.
Miller needs to step it up in order to give this team a chance. If not the Sabres need to start scoring goals which, judging from previous seasons, is easier said than done.
Tyler Myers – Keeping with the topic of players having horrible years add Myers to that list. Sophomore slump doesn’t begin to describe the issues he’s having. He constantly makes mistakes and big ones at that, there have been multiple (3 I can think of off the top of my head) that have led directly to goals for the opposing team. His -10 rating shows this and his 3 goals are easily canceled out by his mistakes.
The blue line lost 2 key players this off-season and we all justified that because of Myers, knowing he’ll fill their shoes. If we knew he’d be -10 12 games into the season we would have been panicking at the loss of Lydman and Tallinder. Leopold has been the only saving grace on defense this year, save Sekera who has stepped up his game slightly.
Penalty Kill – Not only have the Sabres been taking stupid penalties lately but they’ve been allowing those penalties to turn into goals against. The Sabres are 74.5% against the power play, good enough for only 27th in the league. In their last 3 games alone they’ve given up 7 power play goals. That’s 50% of the total goals against coming on the penalty kill.
I’m fine with the team taking stupid penalties as long as they can prevent the team from scoring in those 2 shorthanded minutes. However they don’t have the penalty kill to be able to do that. It’s either step up the PK or stop taking the penalties, I think the latter is the easiest.
So there you have it. My top 5 reasons the Sabres are a horrible hockey team. This team has talent, there’s no doubt about that. They have Calder and Vezina trophy winners on their team. They have a new guy who is getting votes for the Calder this year. They had a guy who at the start of the season at least was leading the league in goals. They have a goalie who almost lead the underdog US to a gold medal in last years olympics. They have the skill. It’s just getting that talent to show up every night that’s the issue. It’s getting the few guys having a bad year to snap out of it.
If all that happens soon we’ll be fine. If not we’re in for a long season.
I may be one of the last to do so but after tonight’s game it’s time for me to press it. After 20 minutes of hockey they had 2 points all but locked up. Instead they let up and fell behind. There’s no excuse for the Sabres to play like they did tonight and there is no doubt this team has some serious issues. Looks like we’re in for a long season.