Thursday, February 24, 2011

A New Era, A New Hope

There's not much else I can say about Pegula that hasn't already been said, but I'm just happy that he's the team's new owner. In the press conference, Pegula came off as down to earth and extremely excited about being the owner of the Buffalo Sabres. He made a connection with the fans and was genuine, which can sometimes be hard to do when you're a billionaire. Seeing Pegula break down in tears when he saw Perrault and the other Sabres alumni in the room was just so endearing, because it showed the honest emotions that sports can bring out in a fan.

I wanted to wait to write about the change in ownership until after I attended the game last night, because I knew it was going to be special. The fans are excited that Pegula is now the owner because we believe in him and his philosophy. We believe that he can be the right owner who can get the right players and personnel in to bring a Cup to Buffalo. But when I saw Pegula walk out to center ice with his family in front of the team and all the fans, I wasn't thinking about all that. I was thinking about just Pegula, and how excited and overwhelmed he must have been. I was happy for him. He said that it's been a life-long dream for him, and he told countless people over the years that he wanted to own the Sabres one day. And there he was, front and center standing next to his boyhood idol being embraced by tens of thousands of fans. I can't even imagine how that must have felt for him. He admitted after the game that the whole night was a blur for him, and that he didn't realize that it was Lindy who handed him the game puck until someone told him after.

Taken from

I just love that picture! I love Lindy, I love that Pegula stated that Lindy "ain't goin' nowhere", and I love that it was Lindy that handed Pegula the game puck.

I know some fans are approaching this change in ownership as being cautiously optimistic, which is understandable. We need to remember that an owner can't bring in a championship alone, that it takes a team. But I believe that Pegula's excitement is definitely contagious, for the fans and the players alike. The Buffalo News posted a photo slide show of the press conference, and the people in attendance were the players, the coaching and training staff, the media, and the employees of the Sabres. You could see a smile on the players' faces when they were listening to Pegula speak, and it seemed like they were all happy and excited to hear him talk. Thomas Vanek's latest blog entry is a real interesting read, he discusses how he believes that the "little things" that Pegula wants to give to the players and their families is going to make the team even more closer. He also said that he believes that Pegula owning the team is the best thing that could have happened to the team and the fans, which is great to hear coming from a player.

The last time I remember there being such a buzz and excitement about the Sabres was during their 2006 playoff run. Everyone seems to be inspired and full of hope, which is always a good thing. In an interview I saw on the news after the press conference, Ted Black said, "People may be thinking, 'This is too good to be true', but some things are too good and true." The jury still may be out on the second part, but many Buffalonians can relate to the first half. It's just great for everyone to be excited and it's just a great story all around. How can someone not get behind a guy like Pegula? A die-hard fan who worked hard to make his fortunes, and then fulfills a life-long dream and purchases his favorite sports team? It does almost sound too good to be true, but it happened. And I'm excited for the future, and I'm also excited for right now. It feels good. Let's go Buffalo!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Things I Hate In Hockey

Well the Sabres answering their 3-game win streak with a 3-game losing streak is not what anyone wanted to see. The Sabres had fantastic opportunities to use their games in hand to win games and put themselves in a playoff position, but has failed at the task so far.

But instead of going on and on about how frustrating it has been to see them lose (especially to the Leafs...), I want to express my anger and frustration in more of a lighthearted way... By talking about my biggest pet peeves when watching hockey. We all have them, and it's time to air our grievances about the insignificant but annoying things in hockey!

I'm going to start off by saying I'm going to leave out the obvious annoyances (poor officiating, dangerous hits to the head, Maple Leafs fans, etc.) So here we go...

Things That Need To Be Eliminated From Hockey:

- fans banging on the glass
- fans who stand up and wave to the camera
- fans who automatically boo the opposing team's good player
- fans who boo and whine when a player on their team gets called on a very blatant, obvious penalty
- refs refusing to call a dive
- the word "soft" or "softie" when referring to a bad goal. Just call it weak, cheap, bad, etc. The word "soft" just absolutely rubs me the wrong way.
- the word "squirts"...I don't like that word ever. "Squirts", you stay away from hockey.
- the word "classless"...way overused
- the word "elite"...especially when referring to a goalie. "He's great, but is he elite?" I don't think many fans have enough knowledge to make to differentiate the two. "Elite" is another way overused term too.
- the phrase "and it isn't even close". Like when fans say, "This player is better than that player and it isn't even close." or, "This team is better than that team and it isn't even close." It's probably a lot closer than you'd think, you fools.
- Tyler Kennedy's face
- A good, clean, hard hit that results in the team jumping the other team.

I'm sure there's more, but these are all the things that came to mind right away. What small things bother you the most in hockey?

Monday, February 14, 2011

Thoughts on Miller

I figured I should talk about Ryan Miller, because I'm sure you've noticed by now, he is one of my favorite people to talk about.

Miller, Miller, Miller. It's obvious he hasn't been at the level he was last season when he won the Vezina. But I think fans have to realize that he isn't going to win the Vezina every season. But I understand that now that he's won the Vezina, expectations are higher and criticism will be more frequent when he doesn't live up to standards. I understand all of that and there is nothing wrong with it. What bothers is me is how shortsighted fans can be. I mean, what the hell is up with WGR 550's latest poll on their website? Should Ryan Miller be apart of the "core" moving forward? You kiddin' me? I'm just glad owners and GM of sports teams aren't as rash as fans. I think it just comes with the position, but I feel like all of the great goaltenders in the NHL today have been called overrated at some point. Fleury, Price, Brodeur, Luongo, they have all been called busts or simply "overrated". Hell, Roy was practically run out of town in Montreal and Sabres fans used to boo Hasek at home.

Kate already brought this up in her latest post, but I think Corey Griswold made some great points last night on his Twitter page. Aside from last season, Miller's stats aren't that phenomenal. He's never really been a "Stats King", if you will. But stats aren't the be all and all, and they certainly don't tell the whole story. You can't look at Miller's current GAA, which is 31st in the league or something like that and say, "Oh, well that means that the 30 other goalies are clearly better than Ryan Miller." It just doesn't work that way. Miller's stats are bad this season no matter how you look at it, and that's an indicator of something, but I just wish fans could look at the broader picture at hand instead of being so hung up on the numbers.

I also want to touch on Miller's post-game reaction last night... I think people are making it a bigger deal than it is, but Buffalo is a small town so that's not surprising to me. Ryan was clearly frustrated, and he said so several times in his interview. I don't think John Vogl's original question was particularly bad, but I think it was quite obvious that Miller wasn't going to give any other answer than, "I feel fine." and he was irked by the question. But Vogl still pursued with the question which made Miller more annoyed. I understand Vogl must have been taken aback by Miller's reaction, but he's also a professional sports journalist and I think he knew what he was doing when he kept repeating the question to a very frustrated Miller.

As for Jerry Sullivan, I think he's a jackass. He really didn't have any business jumping in on the scuffle between Miller and Vogl, other than to further stir the pot. Which is what I think he wanted to do. I have no problem with Miller calling him out and them exchanging pleasantries (as Rick Jeanneret would put it). Sullivan apparently called Miller "thin-skinned", but to me it seems like Sullivan was the one acting a little too sensitive to Miller's criticism. Miller had a rough night and his temper was high, so his reaction may have not been professional, but it was understandable. Sullivan on the other hand, there really was no reason for him to be so bent out of shape and to insult Miller like that. Pro athtletes like Ryan Miller are the reason that sports columnists and reporters like Jerry Sullivan are even employed. There needs to be some level of respect. They can write their columns and reports and criticize players all they want, but I also think players/coaches have a right to dish it back out if they feel it is warranted.

All in all, I'm sure Miller would have handled the situation differently had it not been in the "heat of the moment", and I'm sure Vogl and Sullivan are used to athletes snapping at them because it just comes with the job. Miller having to answer to the media comes with his job to, but everyone involved in this is obviously human and mistakes will be made. I'm also not saying that any criticism Miller is receiving this season isn't deserved or is unfair, I just wish fans used a little more perspective in their criticisms.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Thoughts on Golisano's Press Conference

I didn't get a chance to watch Tom Golisano's press conference until I got home from class around 5 tonight. I really did like the way the press conference went, and it was nice to hear Golisano talk about his accomplishments with the team during his tenure.

I think for the most part, fans are grateful for Tom Golisano stepping up at the right time when the Sabres were in turmoil and he's done a lot of positive things to the organization and the WNY community since then. But there are certain fans who quite frankly, are acting like spoiled brats with this whole thing. No, we didn't win a Stanley Cup during the Golisano Era, which is the ultimate goal. And these are the same people who expect Terry Pegula to come in riding on a white horse and change everything almost instantaneously in our glorious run to the Stanley Cup. Please.

Fans don't have to agree with every decision upper management makes, but it would be nice if fans could stop acting as if they know how to run a sports team and that every single fantasy deal is realistic. Obviously it's okay to be angry and impatient when things aren't going right, and it's natural to look for someone to blame. It's easy to pick out scapegoats; Golisano, Larry Quinn, Darcy Regier, Lindy Ruff, and certain players. The bottom line is it's a team and they win as a team and they lose as a team. There is no "quick fix", it just simply isn't easy to win a Stanley Cup. Sometimes great owners, general managers, coaches, and players can't bring home a Cup.

I'm not asking for Tom Golisano to be inducted into the Sabres Hall of Fame any time soon, but it would be nice to see fans be a little more gracious about Golisano's departure.

It's been real, Tommy G. It's been real.

With all that said, I can't wait to learn more about Terry Pegula and how he'll run the team. Over the next year or so during this transition phase, it's going to be very exciting and interesting for Sabres fans. Hopefully the players themselves can contribute to that excitment by playing some good hockey. Go get 'em, boys.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough

Hello strangers! Sorry it's been so long since I've updated. I've been very busy working and going back to school, but the truth is that I just haven't been real inspired to write about the Sabres. But now that the Sabres are right in the thick of things in the playoff race coupled with the new revelations about the change in ownership, it's made me want to throw in my two cents.

It's exciting that the Sabres are only 6 points out of 8th place with 3 games in hand. It was so frustrating watching them play solid hockey and get the 2 points, but seeing them just treading in 12-11th place. I was actually pretty surprised to see how well their record has been lately, because it felt like every loss was just another nail in the coffin. But here they are, after the All-Star break and they have a chance to make a real run. In the past few seasons where the Sabres missed the playoffs, they put themselves in a position where they needed other teams to help them out by winning/losing certain games in order for them to make the playoffs. I hate that, I'm sure everyone does. It's not exactly an ideal position to be in. But as of now, the Sabres don't need any team's help as long as they can play good hockey and win their games.

I never realized how appropriate Michael Jackon's "Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough" was for the Sabres victory song. I'm sure everyone has heard it playing in the background of post-game interviews after a win. At first I thought it was just an amusing, goofy song to play because Michael Jackson isn't exactly the first musician you would expect to be playing in a professional sports team's locker room. But that's what the Sabres have been doing, they've been keeping on with the force even when things were pretty grim, and they have put themselves in a decent position. But there is still a lot of work to be done and it's going to be a hard-fought battle for the remainder of the season to make the playoffs. By the way, "Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough" is one of my favorite songs to dance to in the Michael Jackson: The Experience video game for the Wii. My birthday was last week and it was my birthday present...that game is ridiculously fun!

"Keep on with the force, don't stop. Don't stop 'til you get enough!" MJ speaks the truth, Sabres.

Moving on, today was quite the fun day for Sabres fans and the media, wasn't it? The Sabres have finally announced the sale of the team to Terry Pegula. It's always exciting when something new happens to a sports team, especially when it's something as big as new ownership. It gives plenty of things for fans and the media to speculate and fantasize about. Pegula seems like a man who loves hockey and who has wanted to own the Sabres for quite some time, so it's going to be fun to see what happens when he is officially handed the reigns.

Although I was disappointed to read The Buffalo News article on Pegula's gas drilling violations. I guess I shouldn't be surprised though, a billionaire who made his profits on natural gas drilling is bound to have some dirty laundry. While I'm no expert on how to become a billionaire (too bad), I'd imagine that ethics, morals, and honesty are sometimes put on the back burner when you're making your profits. But I love the Sabres and I always will, so I can only hope that Pegula will bring nothing but success to the team. I couldn't help but think of Paul Gaustad spitting out his Kick Save Krunch when was reading that article in the Sunday paper, though.

Sabres fans also found out about Darcy Regier's ~super secret~ contract extension he received last fall, which created quite a stir. Honestly, when I read the article I basically just shrugged to myself and said, "Oh, okay." I really didn't expect Pegula to come in and immediately fire Darcy, and even if that was his intention, he could still do so regardless of this extension. What did intrigue me though was the revelation that Lindy Ruff was offered an extension as well but rejected it. Which explains why the Sabres didn't publicize Darcy's extension, because questions would have been asked regarding Lindy's status had they announced Regier's extension. But why didn't Lindy take the extension? I love Lindy, and I'm attached to him. I'm not afraid to admit it either. I feel like sometimes fans are afraid to admit that they get attached to certain players or coaches because you're not "supposed to", like it makes you look unprofessional or something. Well guess what? I'm a fan and I get attached to players and I'm also attached to the head coach who has coached my beloved Sabres since 1997. My heart melted when I was watching his interview on the news and he smiled while he said, "Yeah, I want to be here." when he was asked. So why didn't you sign, Lindy?! The world may never know. I hope he sticks around though. I like that guy.