The Sabres Observer
For the attention span impaired, here are some quick notes on the Sabres as they prepare for their season opener in Finland Friday against the Anaheim Ducks:
• At least for now, it appears that Ville Leino has found a home. After toying with different line combinations, coach Lindy Ruff apparently struck gold when he put his new center with Tyler Ennis and Brad Boyes. “He was worried about his production for awhile,” Ruff said of Leino. “It’s not easy to fit who he’s going to play with.”
When we hear retired athletes talk about how they miss “being with the guys”, it’s moments like this that may help us on the outside understand a little more.
The Sabres are in Germany, and Jason Pominville narrated a video of the team laughing it up on the team bus. The player who apparently had an issue with his bag is young forward Luke Adam, who incidentally is battling veteran Matt Ellis for a roster spot. Derek Roy, Thomas Vanek and Christian Ehrhoff apparently won rights to sit in the back seat. (Thanks to the Sabres staff for uploading this to Facebook and YouTube.)
From The Niagara Gazette,
Believe it or not, [Ville] Leino, who signed a six-year, $27 million contract with the Sabres in July, went undrafted. But as he rapidly improved, he earned notice and an NHL deal. Leino picked the Red Wings, a stacked team with a history of developing unheralded Europeans into stars.
The choice was equally frustrating and rewarding.
Leino immediately grew tired of riding buses in the minors. He wanted to be in Detroit, not Grand Rapids. He had played only 13 NHL games two years ago at this time.
more , including how a frustrated Leino nearly went back to Finland.
Right near the end of the Sabres open practice Wednesday night, Pat Kaleta came out from behind the net to try to center the puck. Thomas Vanek of all people got him lined up in his sights and just hammered him. Kaleta laid on the ice before being helped to the lockerroom. Lindy Ruff said, “He’s shaken, but I think he’s going to be OK. He got a little bit of a shot to the head there, but he’s going to be OK.”
continued, including latest injury news on Derek Roy and Jochen Hecht.
After years of being vilified for not dishing out hefty long term contracts to keep some of their superstars from leaving, the Sabres are being blasted by a number of hockey writers for pulling out all the stops to win a championship.
That’s how it goes in the realm of sports journalism. When you aren’t willing to pay to keep your own players you get criticized by the media. When you do actually pay the necessary price to keep your own players you get criticized by the media. This just further makes the case that sportswriters have the easiest job in the world.
The latest scribe to board the Terry Pegula bashwagon is Ken Warren of The Ottawa Citizen. Check out this gem from his piece yesterday as he tries to justify criticism of the Tyler Myers contract extension:
The way I see it, Myers has performed pretty much the way the Sabres had hoped he would after being taken with the 12th overall selection in the 2008 draft. He went back to junior for a year and followed that up with two generally strong seasons in Buffalo.
That’s right, folks. The Sabres pretty much expected Myers in 2009-10 to jump in and immediately become an impact top pair defenseman and win the Calder Trophy. In other news, Tim Thomas is coming off a generally strong season in Boston.
How would you like to hang out in a limo with some of your favorite players for a day?
In another move by the Sabres to reach out to the local blogging community, Kate Holzemer of The Willful Caboose and Heather Bermingham of Top Shelf Cookies were invited by the team to join some of the players as they made surprise deliveries to some season ticket holders and sponsors. Kate admitted to being a bit jittery…
I’m not going to lie, I was quite nervous about almost everything as I headed down to the arena. A variety of panicky thoughts raced through my head: What if I embarrass myself? What if the Sabres hate me? What if Tyler Myers wants to open the sunroof of the limo so he can stick his head out like a giraffe, and this makes me laugh so hard that I have a coughing fit? What if Ted Black turns out to be only 99% awesome instead of 100% awesome? What if Ville Leino arches his eyebrow at me and I temporarily lose the power of speech? What if I somehow offend everyone and ensure that no bloggers are ever taken seriously by the Sabres ever ever ever ever ever ever again? OMFG, WHAT IF I LOOK STUPID IN THIS OUTFIT?!
Well, it turns out that driving around Buffalo in a limousine with Sabres is much like everything else in life. You almost never worry about the right things.
He jokingly claims to use grease from Buffalo chicken wings as hair gel. He smugly predicts that his bold decision to install beverage shelves above the urinals at First Niagara Center for Sabres home games will earn him NHL Executive Of The Year honors. He is none other than Buffalo Sabres President Ted Black.
Around 1800 fans checked in this morning to the online chat starring one of the most beloved people in Sabres Nation. Read on for some highlights of what Black told us…
From the Sabres,
BUFFALO, N.Y. (August 31, 2011) – The Buffalo Sabres Hall of Fame Selection Committee today announced the induction of Rick Jeanneret and Dale Hawerchuk into the Buffalo Sabres Hall of Fame. Jeanneret, the longest-tenured play-by-play announcer in NHL history, and Hawerchuk, a member of the Hockey Hall of Fame, were selected based on their outstanding contributions to the sport of hockey and the Buffalo Sabres organization.
The pair will officially be inducted as the 36th and 37th members of the Buffalo Sabres Hall of Fame during a ceremony before the team’s game against the Winnipeg Jets on November 8.
With his vast knowledge of the game and his unwavering enthusiasm for hockey, Jeanneret’s distinct voice has been synonymous with the Buffalo Sabres for four decades. He began his prolific career with the Sabres in the 1971-72 season as the club’s radio play-by-play announcer and served primarily in that role until 1995, when he would also begin calling the action for the team’s televised games. His memorable calls and player nicknames have become forever linked with Sabres history for generations of fans.
From The Buffalo News,
Buffalo Sabres President Ted Black was finished with several offseason updates Wednesday morning in the HSBC Arena Harbour Club and it was time to bring $40 million defenseman Christian Ehrhoff to the podium to speak to reporters.
Black wanted Darcy Regier to do those honors and had a wry smile on his face as he turned and looked at his general manager.
Said Black: “With that—and I love doing this—I’d like to introduce the GM who currently has the highest payroll in the NHL.”
Cracked Regier when he got to the microphone: “Ted cannot resist putting any more pressure on the coaching staff.”
From the Sabres,
BUFFALO, NY (August 11, 2011) - Buffalo Sabres GM Darcy Regier today announced that defenseman Marc-Andre Gragnani has agreed to terms on a one-year deal.
Gragnani (6’2”, 201 lbs., 3/11/1987) appeared in a career-high nine regular season games during two recalls for the Sabres last season, recording the first three points of his career (1+2) and two penalty minutes. Gragnani also played in all seven of the team’s playoff games, leading all Buffalo skaters with seven points (1+6). He ranked third on the team in total ice time, averaging 21:53 per game.
Gragnani also had a career season in the AHL in 2010-11, breaking the Portland Pirates’ franchise records for assists (48) and points (60) by a defenseman and leading all AHL defensemen in both categories despite playing only 63 AHL games. Gragnani’s efforts earned him the Eddie Shore Award, given to the AHL’s Most Outstanding Defenseman.
The Montreal, Que. native had played in six NHL games prior to last season’s call-ups, totaling zero points and six penalty minutes during the 2007-08 and 2008-09 seasons with the Sabres.
About The Sabres Observer
Dave Davis has covered the Buffalo Sabres for various NHL accredited websites and newspapers since 2003. He was the senior writer and Sabres correspondent for The Fourth Period, covered hockey for Western New York Sports and Leisure Magazine, and has had articles featured on NHL.com, FOX Sports, Yahoo Sports and in New York Sportscene. Sabres news and notes can be found on his Twitter page.
Davis originally garnered media attention in 2002 as leader of a lobbying campaign working in unison with potential buyer Mark Hamister attempting to secure state financing to keep the Sabres in Buffalo. In 2004, Davis was briefly back on the airwaves - this time reaching the finals of the inaugural "WGR Rookie" sports talk competition. After a few years of "syndicating" his articles on various sites, along with doing some internet radio work, Davis now devotes his new media efforts to bringing quality Sabres related opinions and content to Kukla's Korner.
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter: [@DaveDavisHockey]