Kukla's Korner

The Sabres Observer

Sabres Not Harboring Fear Of Commitment

We’ve already been told that the Buffalo Sabres under Terry Pegula won’t let financial considerations impede their pursuit of greatness, but specifically to what lengths are they willing to go?

With the recent announcement that the NHL salary cap is expected to be at or near $64M, teams in markets larger than Buffalo are certainly licking their chops for the chance to grab some big name talent.  The past two seasons have proven that landing a free agent prize like Zdeno Chara or Marian Hossa can help lead sooner or later to a Stanley Cup parade.

Just in case Sabres fans needed any reaffirmation of the commitment of their team not to be left out of the party, what we heard from team president Ted Black at Thursday night’s Sabres Blogger Summit was of a similar tone to what’s been promised since his first day on the job.

I don’t believe that Sabres fans realistically expect the team to sign Brad Richards or trade for Jeff Carter, but I think folks would be excited at the prospect of Darcy Regier at least taking a legitimate stab at landing one of these guys as the top line center the Sabres desperately need.  If nothing else, the effort would confirm to the rest of the league that Buffalo really means business.

Being in a hypothetical mood, I got specific with Black and asked if he would be open to going as high as a nine- or ten-year contract commitment to get a franchise player.

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Boyes Buyout Talk Beyond Silly

There’s some talk in the local media that the Sabres might or should consider getting out from under the final year of the contract of forward Brad Boyes, but I’m not buying it.

His productivity with the Sabres during the regular season would put him on pace for 20 goals and 55 points over a full campaign.  Those stats would’ve made Boyes the second leading scorer on the team.  And having one stinker playoff series against the Flyers to me just isn’t enough for Darcy Regier to give up on him.

Take a look at how Drew Stafford performed this past season in his contract year.  He had a disappointing playoff series himself but certainly had a lot to do with the team’s turnaround that got them there in the first place.

I don’t think it’s unreasonable to project Boyes as a 20-25 goal guy this season.  He’s already done better than that three times in his career, and age-wise he’s still on the good side of 30.  The discussion about a buyout to avoid paying $4M for this kind of player sounds like silly talk.

The only Sabres buyout candidates that would seem to make any sense are Jochen Hecht ($3M salary) and Shaone Morrisonn ($2.075M).  I’ll be mildly surprised if Buffalo goes that route with either of them.

Twitter: @DaveDavisHockey

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LeBron Could Use PR Lessons From Crosby

It was no more than five minutes after I’d pinched myself, for admitting that I actually enjoyed watching an NBA playoff series, when the most talented player and supposed representative of the sport opened his mouth and put my newfound positive feelings about the league on ice.

For those of you that try to avoid the NBA like a Matt Cooke elbow to the head, and how could I blame you, here is the gem from LeBron James after his deer-in-the-headlights performance that ensured an NBA Championship for the Dallas Mavericks:

reporter: Does it bother you that so many people are happy to see you fail?

LeBron: Absolutely not. Because at the end of the day, all the people that was rooting on me to fail, at the end of the day they have to wake up tomorrow and have the same life that they had before they woke up today. They have the same personal problems they had today. I’m going to continue to live the way I want to live and continue to do the things that I want to do with me and my family and be happy with that. They can get a few days or a few months or whatever the case may be on being happy about not only myself, but the Miami Heat not accomplishing their goal, but they have to get back to the real world at some point.

My first thought while listening to this condescending dribble was about Sidney Crosby.  How would the poster boy for the NHL have answered this question?

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Goaltending Matchup Won’t End Miller Debate

With two elite netminders battling it out in the Stanley Cup Finals, I’d like to think that maybe the cheap-goaltending-is-better silliness is going to get a well-deserved reprieve.

That’s not likely to happen in Buffalo in the foreseeable future, however, thanks in large part to the storied 15-game NHL career of Jhonas Enroth.

Brian Koziol of WGR-550 sanely wrote today that Ryan Miller is still the answer in Buffalo, although his piece that touched on the ubiquitous debate concerning the Sabres franchise goaltender wasn’t without its share of pure gold:

“While I think it’s insane to be able to have any clear judgment on Enroth’s success in the NHL, there were plenty of people who called into the postgame show during the playoffs and other WGR talk shows about why Lindy Ruff didn’t play Enroth and rotate “the hot goalie” as Peter Laviolette did with the Flyers.”

There you have it, folks.  Ruff should be ashamed of himself for not adhering to that innovative goaltending carousel-riding strategy that helped carry the Philadelphia Flyers through the playoffs.

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Ted Nolan Wants To Coach Again

From The Moncton Times & Transcript,

Nolan makes it clear he wants to coach again some day and it doesn’t matter whether it’s the NHL or major junior.

“I definitely miss coaching,” he said. “I really miss teaching the game, watching the players improve and develop their skills, and taking a group of individuals in training camp and seeing them gel together as a team over the course of the season.”

“I remember the way [Moncton Wildcats owner Robert Irving] approached me to come to Moncton and wanted me to be part of the organization. I do want to coach again. I want to go to an organization where they really want me to be part of it. You wait around and hopefully that opportunity comes.”

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Drew Stafford Has A New Contract

via Sabres tweet,

The #Sabres have signed forward Drew Stafford to a multi-year deal. Check back with Sabres.com later today for more details.

Details not available yet, but Buffalo successfully avoids having the forward go to salary arbitration. 

Stafford this past season: 31 goals, 21 assists, 52 points in 62 games played.  11 of his goals were on the power play and he was a +13.

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Pominville Says Recovery On Schedule

Sabres forward Jason Pominville appeared on Canada’s RDS television last night and declared that his recovery from a severely cut tendon in his leg is on schedule.

Pominville sat down with a panel that included former NHL coaches and players Mario Tremblay, Michel Bergeron and Denis Gauthier.

You can check out the interview here, although you won’t get too much out of it unless you understand French.

Read on for a rundown of what Pominville revealed to the panel…

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Sabres Fire Assistant Coach

Via WGR-550,

Buffalo, NY (WGR 550) —WGR Sports Radio 550 has learned that Lindy Ruff has released Associate Coach Brian McCutcheon from his staff.

Sources say McCutcheon is in limbo right now. If the Sabres wind up buying the Rochester Amerks, McCutcheon could have a role there. If that doesn’t happen, he may just be released.

The top two candidates to replace McCutcheon are former Sabres Captain Mike Foligno who’s an assistant in Anaheim and local product Kevyn Adams who’s been given more responsibility in each of the last two seasons on Ruff’s staff.

McCutcheon joined Ruff’s staff in 2000 after three years as Head Coach of the Amerks where he was 128-82-9 winning two Western Conference titles.

Before the Amerks, he was coach of the Columbus Chill of the ECHL.

McCutcheon played and coached at Cornell. He coached the Big Red from 1987-1995.

The Sabres have yet to comment.

Twitter: @DaveDavisHockey

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Teppo Sees Success For Winnipeg This Time

From John Vogl of The Buffalo News,

It didn’t take Teppo Numminen long to realize what made folks in Winnipeg tick, what made it possible for them to get through those long winters in the middle of Canada.

“Hockey is their passion,” Numminen, who spent eight NHL seasons in Winnipeg, said Tuesday. “That’s where I started [in 1988]. I was 20 when I came, leaving home far away, leaving Finland, but I just felt right at home and welcomed. It was great to see the passion and support for the team.”

The passion—and the NHL—is back.

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Jeanneret’s Career Headed For O-O-Overtime

Most Buffalo fans love him and many outsiders can do without him, but nonetheless he’s coming back with a lighter workload this season.

Sabres play-by-play legend Rick Jeanneret, the longest tenured broadcaster in hockey, will only be calling around 10-15 road games during the 2011-12 regular season because the long road trips have been wearing on him.

Harry Neale, who has been doing Sabres color commentary for four years, will also work a reduced schedule.

Having never been 68 years old before, I can’t speak for how exhausting it is for someone the same age as my father to be on the road for 40-50 games in 8-9 months.  But to be honest, in the big picture it doesn’t even matter.  Sabres fans in general would be perfectly happy with having Jeanneret do only home games, if that’s what it would take for him not to retire.  He also has unwavering support from team management. 

In a nutshell, the man seemingly has the job for life.  Discussing his new schedule arrangement on the radio this morning, Jeanneret sounded invigorated by new ownership and grateful for the fact that the team is being so accommodating to him.

How badly do folks here want him to prolong his career?  A sports talk show caller today said that Buffalo fans would rather have Jeanneret call road games from his living room in front of a television than to have to endure listening to a different broadcaster.

He wasn’t joking, and he was probably right.

Twitter: @DaveDavisHockey

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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.

2014-15 NHL Reverse Standings

 

Email: dd@kuklaskorner.com Twitter: [@DaveDavisHockey]

 

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