The Sabres Observer
Even since the Sabres' rebuild began, Steve Ott had been saying all the right things.
As I told Todd Lewis of SiriusXM's Hockey Unfiltered last weekend, Buffalo Sabres fans appreciate a guy who is respectful of this humble blue-collar city and expresses a desire to play here. That's been the gritty forward's shtick since the day he arrived.
But let's face the facts. Ott is 31 years old and plays on a team that may not be a contender until he is staring hockey career mortality in the face. He hasn't experienced the thrill of Stanley Cup playoff participation since six seasons ago, when his Dallas Stars were eliminated by the Detroit Red Wings in the Western Conference Finals.
And now, after seeing the Sabres trade their best forward in Thomas Vanek, and sensing the inevitable departure of franchise goaltender Ryan Miller, the "I Melt With You" tune Ott has metaphorically been singing to the press all this time is finally beginning to sound a bit more like "Can We Still Be Friends".
Great piece last night from Hockey Night In Canada's Elliotte Friedman, with an insightful portrayal of what exactly is happening here in Buffalo right now.
Anyway, I have some understanding and appreciation for this blue-collar city and its sports fans. Scouts and opposing teams say they've rarely seen anything like what's been happening at the team's home games so far in 2013-14.
"That is one angry crowd," an opposing executive said.
We've all heard about the "Fire Darcy" chants, but that's not the only example. The press box setup at First Niagara Center allows for some interaction between the crowd and media/scouts/employees. One scout told a story of two fans demanding to know if he worked for the Sabres, accusing him of lying when he said no.
Matt Moulson’s agent, Wade Arnott, said that his client is heading to Buffalo with an open mind and is interested in hearing the club’s plans.
Mr. Arnott, I think I can help you out with that.
The Sabres are in desperate need of elite talent. The trade that sent Thomas Vanek to Long Island in exchange for Moulson and draft picks is another step in the implementation of the scheme to do exactly that.
As you've probably already learned, the Sabres have traded Thomas Vanek to the Islanders for Matt Moulson, a 2014 1st-round pick and a 2nd-rounder in 2015.
Both Vanek and Moulson are set to become unrestricted free agents after this season.
Buffalo GM Darcy Regier will be speaking with the media in a few moments.
Keep it tuned here and I'll forward info and comments as they become available.
UPDATE 10:05pm: Bill Hoppe of the Olean Times Herald was at the presser and just posted a piece complete with quotes from Regier.
Or, you can listen directly to audio of the press conference courtesy of WGR-550.
From Paul Hamilton of WGR-550,
I try to play within the code and within the rules and this is my first suspension. I feel really upset, I was sick to my stomach last night knowing what happened and I regret the whole situation. I don’t want to be a dirty player.
- Sabres forward John Scott
Nick Kypreos of Sportsnet gave Sabres fans and media plenty to talk about last night with his comments that GM Darcy Regier's long tenure may be coming to an end, going so far as saying the Sabres "ultimately will make the change", probably before Christmas.
Today, however, Kypreos appeared to try to douse the flames of speculation on the Hockey Central At Noon radio show.
One Particular Offseason Decision In Buffalo May Have Made Things Worse
Nowhere in the Hockey Fan Suffering Handbook does it say that losing has to be THIS miserable.
If you're a Buffalo fan of the younger variety, ask someone who can remember the Sabres of 1995-96. Despite having little talent and not a sniff of the playoffs, they were one of the most fun teams to watch in the history of the franchise.
What a difference between the play of that group and what we saw last night. If Terry Pegula wants to make some money, and his oil wells run dry, the introduction of No-Doze as a concession item just might do the trick.
It's pretty safe to say that the Leafs and Sabres, after a weekend of two games, a 15-round breakaway contest and almost 300 minutes in penalties, have had just about enough of each other.
There's plenty of blame to go around for what transpired last night, but not everyone involved deserves it. And there aren't many fans who will tell you it wasn't more entertaining than most games that actually count in the standings.
So, in all of its punch-throwing, stick-swinging, goalie-fighting "glory", here are your key suspects from last night's contest, complete with final verdicts:
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Tags: "bernier+miller+fight", "corey+tropp", "david+clarkson", "jamie+devane", "john+scott", "jonathan+bernier", "kessel+stick+swinging", "phil+kessel", "ron+rolston", "ryan+miller"
It's just a good old fashioned case of damned if you do, damned if you don't.
Many of the same armchair Sabres owners who lambasted Tom Golisano for his one-year contract per player fantasy, and have seen more than a few good ones leave this town over the years due to lack of commitment from management, are now suddenly telling us that ambitious owner Terry Pegula and the Sabres should gleefully escort Cody Hodgson on the bridge to early UFA status.
Forgive me, but I'm having a difficult time understanding why so many folks are treating this contract announcement as if the Sabres have anointed Hodgson hands down to be the number one center for the next six years.
How many first-line centers in the league are making $4.25M per season?
A few weeks ago, George Malik referenced a story on the status of Damien Brunner's search for a deal with an NHL team.
As of today, not a whole lot apparently has changed.
I asked Brunner's agent, Neil Sheehy, for an update this morning.
"We are being patient, and Damien is wide open to any team at this point," Sheehy said.
Brunner is reportedly looking for a deal that will pay $3+ million annually. Last season, he tallied 12 goals and 14 assists for the Red Wings.
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.
Email: email@example.com Twitter: [@DaveDavisHockey]