With only a few days until Terry Pegula takes over ownership of the Buffalo Sabres, hopes around town are high. People are ecstatic that there is now an owner who loves hockey, has plenty of money and WANTS to spend it on big name players. I agree 100 percent and I’m as excited as the next person but don’t be so quick to forget about who saved the franchise just a few years ago.
In 2003, the founder of Paycheck and New York businessman, Tom Golisano purchased the Sabres and ultimately saved the team. The Franchise was a mess and finically they were in trouble with rumors of relocating were in the works. Golisano did not allow that to happen as he took a chance on an ‘ugly duckling.’ The three season prior to Golisano taking over the Sabres were 35-35-11, 27-37-10, and 37-34-7; never coming close to a playoff berth. On top of their dismal play on the ice, nobody was showing up to the HSBC Arena, hence ‘ugly duckling’.
Although his three bids for New York Governor failed, his savior of the Sabres was a success and with a new look starting after the ’05 lock out, Buffalo was once again a force to be reckoned with. New jersey’s, a new logo, new security and new hope helped propel, the once again blue and yellow, to deep playoff runs and the first President Cup Trophy in their history.
Golisano never claimed to be a Sabres fan… not even a hockey fan. But he knew what this team meant to a region in need. There was no money and no real outlook that there was going to be a lot of cash to be made. Even with their recent success since the lockout, reports came in that the Sabres were not even making a profit until the first round of the ’07 playoffs; four years after Golisano took over. He’s a businessman and a politicians but he spent some of his own money to help Buffalo.
When Terry Pegula came into the mix, once again, Golisano did the right move…selling the team to someone who wants to take the team to the next level. Pegula is a self proclaimed ‘die-hard’ Sabres fan with plenty of money to spend, and hopefully lift Lord Stanley’s Cup. Just don’t forget about all that Tom Golisano did for the team we all love. Golisano’s next stop… saving the Buffalo Bills?
Fresh off their third straight loss at home a few minutes ago, Lindy Ruff said the Sabres are disappointed and frustrated. So are the fans, chief. So is the media, boss. So is everyone who cares about Buffalo sports, guy. This is starting to get ridiculous, so I’ll make my points.
The HSBC Arena seats 18,690 for a hockey game. Today against the Capitals was a sellout, part of the NHL’s “Hockey Day in America”, ending with the Heritage Classic in Canada tonight between Montreal and Calgary (PS: Good call!). By the time there was 10 minutes left in the third, that crowd had significantly thinned out. The Caps had just scored, and everyone made a mass exodus for the doors. Know why? Because the on-ice product wasn’t gonna come back against Alex Ovetchkin and Company, and everyone who attended the game knew that. We’re 0-3-1 in our last 4 home games. That’s pitiful. And everyone knows it.
This game reminds me of one of the first games of the season at home against New Jersey (10/13), when Kovalchuk scored in OT to beat us 1-0. There were a few decent chances, but we were generally dominated and couldn’t get the puck past Brodieur. Today, we got one goal, a laser from Jason Pominville, only our second in our last 3 games. Why can’t we win at home? Who knows. Maybe the pre-game meals are bad and the first change Terry Pegula needs to make is to fire the chefs. Maybe our lack of leadership is bad, and we need to rip the “C” from Healthy Scratch Rivet and plop it on Steve Montador or someone who deserves it. Maybe we just don’t have enough offensive power to keep up with the Philadelphias’, Tampa Bays’, and Bostons’ of the Eastern Conference. In any event, it’s depressing.
There are currently 24 games left on our schedule, and half that number left at home. It’s time for that do or die, win or go home, playoff attitude to start coming out of this team. Because if they don’t start putting the puck past opposing netminders quickly and at a higher clip than two every three games, they’ll be watching from their homes in Fargo, ND, Angola, NY, or Houston, TX, depending on your favorite player. It’s time for someone to step up and kick them in the rear and get them going.
*Psst, Darcy Regier: there are 8 days left before the trade deadline…just so you know.
Greetings TRW fans,
I’m really glad to be a part of the family here and although this is my first post, I’m sure it wont be my last. I’ve been writing for sports websites now for three years mainly at (bylinesports.com) and as a journalist I believe in the Atlanta Braves, Tim Tebow and, of course, the Buffalo Sabres!
The New Drew Stafford?
While the Sabres post season hopes are dim but not out of the question, everyone can take solace in the outstanding play recently of Drew Stafford. I had never been a fan of the former North Dakota Fighting’ Sioux but it looks as though he has starting to settle into his role.
With Buffalo five points out of the 8th and final playoff spot, they can have some comfort knowing they do have two games in hand on the Carolina Hurricane. But if they want to make a late push in the second half of the season I believe Drew Stafford HAS TO continue to step up in big games down the stretch.
Look coming out of the pre-season where the Sabres went 4-2, the player, coaches and press were all talking about Derek Roy. Yet when asked who was the best playing in camp, Lindy Ruff said Drew Stafford. Stafford played well in the six games and found the back of the net fairly regularly… I didn’t think much of it. Still Ruff went on and talked about his progression over camp and said he was going to have to be a big player this year if the Sabres wanted to make some noise.
In 33 games this season the 5th year Sabre has 17 goals and 27 points, including two memorable hat tricks. To put that into perspective, Stafford has two more points than Niedermayer and Grier combined and they have played 60 more games. I know this is all hypothetical but I’m just saying 17 goals in 33 games is technically on pace to score 42 goals over an 82 game season… just saying. In the mean time, with the 60 extra games, Grier and Niedermayer have COMBINED for three goals total…all season… it amazes me how they are still on an NHL team. They would get cut from a travel hockey team… but I’ll save that for another post.
Back to the matter at hand… Drew Stafford.
Maybe his pre-season wasn’t a fluke? He’s already been a 20 goal scorer in his career back in 08-09 but he’s never stood out enough, in my eyes, to really grab attention away from Vanek and Roy with his play. My thoughts are slowly changing on that every time I’ve seen him skate this year. He’s shown me something this year that a lot of Sabres haven’t shown me… the ability to finish. He’s no Hecth or Connelly (even Pominville I feel misses some grade A chances at times). Stafford has had the killer instinct this year to find the back of the net. That’s what separates the Crobsy’s, Stamkos’s and Kessler’s this year from the rest of the pack.
Another thing to go along with his hands and scoring ability is this guys size. He is no Gerbe, Ennis or Roy. He is listed at 6’2” 214 but after sitting along the glass earlier in the year he looks bigger than that. I know the injury bug has bitten him this year (along with the rest of the team) but he hasn’t had a huge history of being on the shelf, as he has averaged 71 games over the last three seasons.
I’m not saying he is as good as Vanek or Roy, but not everyone comes into the league and tears it up right away like Crosby, Ovechkin or Stamkos. Some guys take a few years to adjust and find their role on their team. The Sabres have shown patience with Stafford and this season, when healthy, has been arguably the most dangerous and most productive.
The Sabres upcoming schedule is not the most challenging in the world but if they want to make a run a few things need to happen and a lot of that has to do with remaining healthy. At times, Buffalo’s power play has looked flawless and Stafford is second on the team with seven power play goals. I tell people all the time, that when a guy like Patrick Kaleta is in the line up the Sabres are a different team. This year Drew Stafford has been that catalyst.
In Drew Stafford I trust….
Two reports for you to read regarding the state of our Sabres.
1. A report regarding ownership changes: http://www.wgr550.com/Sabres-sale-complete–Press-conference-to-air-live/9104688
2. A report regarding coaching changes: http://www.wgr550.com/Ruff-turned-the-Sabres-down-in-the-fall/9104293
Copy/paste these links if they don’t work.