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Before the Puck Drops: Buffalo Sabres

By Tom


Graphic from SportsLogos.net




[I'm going to jinx it, I know.  But I can't help myself.]

Poor Terry Pegula.

What we have on our hands is yet another zillionaire businessman who loves his sport (hockey) and decides to buy himself a team to play with.  In many ways, it’s like a little kid with his new set of action figures.

First, you need to get a cool playset for your toys.  In this case, Pegula dropped $8 million on locker room renovations.  And $8 million gets you some snazzy facilities, believe me!

With the playhouse done, you have to get the coolest figures around.  Pegula opened the checkbook for general manager Darcy Regier, and Regier went and got himself the best players he could find, being former Red Wing and Flyer forward Ville Leino ($4.5 million cap hit through 2016-17) and former Shark Christian Ehrhoff ($4 million cap hit through 2020-21), among others.

You then have the perfect scenario.  Great toys with great accessories.  You’re off to wreak havoc on the world.

But then you ask Washington Redskins owner Daniel Snyder how that whole “buy a championship” thing is working out.  And this gives you a sad face.

Then, your team goes 21-21-6 in the lockout season.  48 points in 48 games gets you 12th in the Eastern Conference, good for a place at home on the couch watching all those other cool kids with their even cooler toys playing in the postseason.  Yet another sad face.

So you fire the longtime coach…not because he’s a particularly bad coach but rather because someone has to pay for the fact that you can’t be King of the Hill.  You promote your minor league club coach to the big team because…well, I have no idea why someone with more money than most of us can conceive would promote a minor league coach.   Matters not, because it’s all going to go better in 2013-14.  Right?  RIGHT?

And then you have an 0-3-1 start.  Rut roh.  I sense another sad face coming on…!

Seriously now, let’s look at what the Buffalo Sabres have outside of an owner who appears to enjoy burning cash for sport.

When you’re 0-3-1, you don’t have a ton of goal scoring to draw upon.  Goals have been scored by forward Thomas Vanek, Cody Hodgson and Zemgus Girgensons as well as defenseman Jamie McBain.  That would be one goal apiece, and that’s all she wrote on scoring.  And where’s Leino?  Where’s Ehrhoff?

Buffalo does have former Team USA Olympic netminder Ryan Miller between the pipes, and Miller is 0-2-0 with a gaudy .963 save percentage.  I think that might tell the story of the Sabres: .963 save percentage and still can’t win a freaking game.

I know Buffalo’s fortunes have to change at some point, but Pegula hasn’t proven that he has spent his money well.  Heck, he might as well just go start up a college Division I hockey program to drown his sorrows.  Oh wait, he did…

An artist's rendition of the Pegula Ice Arena at Penn State University


Besides the obvious “backs against the wall”/”can’t tank the season before Halloween” stuff coming out of Buffalo in the wake of their slow start that the Columbus Blue Jackets need to anticipate, there is the fact that the NHL schedulers took a most circuitous route with the CBJ’s early season schedule.

After opening night on the 4th against Calgary, the CBJ hopped a plane for Long Island and played the Islanders the next night.  They haven’t played a game since.  That’s four days off.  That, in a season that takes half of February off for the Olympics and thus has to pack 82 games into an shorter-than-normal period of time.  What’s up with that?

More importantly, does this team have to shake the rust off a second time (the first being the week off between preseason games and the opener)?  This has to be a killer for the team as far as getting into the rhythm of the season.  Let’s hope they can overcome the layoff, come out strong and go for two straight wins.


Buffalo is 12th in the league in Goals Against, with 10 (2.5 per game).

The Blue Jackets are 18th in the league in Goals For, with 5 (2.5 per game).

Something’s got to give.  Because if it doesn’t, I’m pulling my lineup bingo cards out of the bottom desk drawer as coach Todd Richards surely will be pulling his hair out.


Dan Kamal and Brian Giesenschlag get things started with the “Blue Jackets Live” pregame show at 6:30PM, then Jeff Rimer and Bill Davidge have the call at 7PM from the HSBC Center in Buffalo.  Dave Maetzold gets to hang out around those $8 million locker rooms.

After it’s all over, Dan and Brian share some parting thoughts and analysis on the “Blue Jackets Live” postgame show while Dave gets to check out the visitor’s dressing room and gather some concluding thoughts from the Blue Jackets’ coach and players.  Wonder how much money went into renovating those?  

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