The Sabres Observer
In this week's edition of Sabres Observer Radio, we discuss the newer and tougher Buffalo Sabres. Joe isn't so sure that adding pests like Steve Ott and John Scott will equate to a higher finish in the standings. Also, three games remain in Grigorenko's probationary period, GM Darcy Regier gets a contract extension, and Tyler Myers is still looking to find the form that made him a Calder Trophy winner.
A top prospect from Russia, a highly touted Sabres draft pick, puts on an impressive display as his team medals at the World Juniors. Seemingly no time later, it’s opening day in the NHL - and he’s in the lineup to start his first season of facing the fiercest opposition the world has to offer.
This seemingly prodigal talent, brought in to help a Buffalo team in need of scoring while struggling just to master the English language, is suddenly carrying the weight of lofty expectations.
As I’m sure you’ve deduced, I’m referring to Alexander Mogilny and his ballyhooed arrival in Buffalo in 1989.
GM Gerry Meehan and Head of Player Development Don Luce had snuck the defector out of Sweden in the dead of night, right under legendary Russian coach Viktor Tikhonov’s nose. What followed was a surreal press conference in Buffalo to announce Mogilny's escape, and then the highly anticipated Sabres opener on October 5, 1989.
After placing Adam Pardy on waivers, and barring any moves before today's 5:00 p.m. deadline, the Sabres have their roster set at 23 for the season opener Sunday afternoon against the Flyers.
Assuming that neither Nathan Gerbe nor Cody McCormick will be ready to play due to injuries, the forward lines will likely look like this:
Vanek - Hodgson - Pominville
Foligno - Ennis - Stafford
Leino - Grigorenko - Ott
Scott - Hecht - Kaleta extra: Ellis
The Sabres will carry 8 defensemen on the roster: Myers, Regehr, Ehrhoff, Leopold, Sekera, Sulzer, Weber, Brennan.
Jhonas Enroth will back up Ryan Miller in net.
The big storyline in Buffalo is that all eyes will be on 2012 first-round draft pick Mikhail Grigorenko, who was arguably Russia's best player in the World Juniors. Players, coaches, media and fans have been raving about what they've seen from him in training camp.
From Paul Hamilton of WGR SportsRadio 550,
There are many things that have to fall into place if the Sabres are to contend. One of the biggest things this team needs is for Tyler Myers to not only be this team’s best defenseman, but one of the best defensemen in the NHL. Many feel Shea Weber is the best defenseman in the league and Tyler Myers used the off season to spend some time with him, “Definitely, with my size I think I can start punishing guys more in the defensive zone. I take a look at a guy like Shea Weber and spent some time with him in the summer and I’m trying to implement a lot of his defensive nastiness into my game and try to do that at the start of the season.”
The first edition of Sabres Observer Radio, a weekly show that I'm co-hosting with Joe Pinzone of BuffaloWins.com, is on the air.
This week: Anthony SanFilippo of PhiladelphiaFlyers.com gives an update on the Flyers as they head into Buffalo for the Sabres opener this Sunday, Matthew Coller of WGR SportsRadio 550 reveals what went down during his heated analytics debate with Sabres broadcaster Kevin Sylvester, Bill Hoppe of the Olean Times Herald previews the Sabres season, and we announce details of the "Adopt-A-Sabre" contest where we'll hopefully give away playoff tickets.
“The people that hired me hired Brian Burke. And maybe the new guys don’t like that brand.”
Words from Brian Burke today at his press conference - his last chance to own the stage in Toronto, and his last chance to hurl personal insults at guys like Steve Simmons, a veteran mainstream hockey writer who has known Burke for 25 years and was an advocate of the Leafs hiring him.
Do you know why people like Darcy Regier can get away with having a few down years? Perhaps thinking of himself as a contributing team member, as opposed to a ‘brand’, has something to do with it.
It feels good to be back.
The level of stubbornness, greed, and arrogance that’s been on display for the past few months needs no further analysis. I’m guessing folks have read and seen enough, and I won’t give it any more credence by writing about it. I’m here to talk Sabres hockey.
With that in mind, some new components are coming to The Sabres Observer on KK.
While some NHL teams are laying off employees, the Buffalo Sabres are educating theirs.
From Chris Botta of SportsBusiness Journal and featured in Buffalo Business First,
Sabres University was created in response to team owner Terry Pegula’s mandate to use the downtime during the lockout to become better as an organization. Sabres staffers have not sustained any layoffs or pay cuts as a result of the lockout.
“Terry told us to use this time wisely and find ways to improve how we do business,” said Sabres President Ted Black, who is joining general manager Darcy Regier as the “professors” of a class in public speaking. “We figured this program fits in with the culture here to make this a destination for players and employees.”
So here we are again, being taken for a ride by corporate entities and professional athletes who can’t agree on how to ration all of that ridiculous money they get from our generous spending on overpriced tickets, lamp-heated arena food, and jerseys that seem to become obsolete every other year.
Last time this happened, the players turned a blind eye to the state of league economics because they had it made and didn't want the party to end. In this current episode, the owners absurdly want to undo the deal that they themselves forcefully imposed on a fragmented union seven years ago.
Most of us who’ve been around the block a few times understand that the NHL will survive this lockout just fine, but some angry fans are proclaiming that there will be a backlash with enough impact to put a huge dent in the pocketbooks of the owners.
While their passion for this great game is admirable, their sense of history seems to be lacking.
Audio Segment Was Byproduct Of Fans’ Rumor Obsession
Some of you who read and hear my material might be feeling a little dirty today, the day after.
I am admittedly guilty of bending the rules by using my platform, on one of the most popular sites in the hockey world, to interview a person with no credentials other than cleverly manipulating a dull and somewhat depressing offseason to wedge himself into the consciousness of rumor-starved fans and begrudging mainstream writers everywhere.
Feedback on Monday’s interview with Hockeyy Insiderr has been overwhelmingly positive, but it’s certainly no surprise that reaction from some fans is on the acrimony meter somewhere between displeased and disgusted. To those of you in the minority, I do admire the faithfulness to your standards and completely understand and respect your position.
But I don’t regret what I did one bit.
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]