Can anyone recall a crazier start to a season for the Sabres? In just one month, I feel like we've lived through a season's worth of controversies/stories. I guess the more money Pegula brought about, the more problems we see. Alright, not really. I just wanted to use a Biggie song in this post and there you have it.
I'm sure talk show hosts and sports editors are thrilled with the Sabres talking points. I couldn't even tell you any storylines that happened last year besides Pegula buying the team and them making a run to the playoffs. Oh, btw, the Sabres are in 1st place!
Am I the only one who feels like it's kind of hollow?
Look, I still think it's early and this team has a ton of talent, but the drama that has ensued off the ice has kind of gotten to me. It seems like I'm watching the Young and the Restless storylines. Frankly, I can't even enjoy the actual games because I've been so drained by the stuff off the ice. Alright, that's an exaggeration. I enjoy them, but I feel like I've gone through my hockey fix for the day with constant bulletins about Lindy swearing and Tyler Myers getting benched. My attitude has been awful lately. OK, this past weekend's festivities with both teams have screwed with my mood. I doubt ESPN 30 for 30 will be covering that weekend anytime soon.
Have our expectations for the Sabres gotten out of hand? Have we have become Yankees fans, in that we overanalyze every single aspect of the team? We scream for the drama of the back page tabloids. Just like Yankees fans do. Are we acting like spoiled rich kids? I don't know. I think back to last year at this time, when the Sabres were struggling and I don't remember being this angry or drained. Maybe it was because Tom Golisano drained the will to want to win out of my body. Now, I'm just kind of waiting for stuff to turn around. I wasn't expecting 20-0. However, I was expecting the team to be better than last year's bunch and so far, it hasn't been the case.
It seems like the off the ice stuff has become the focal point for fans and media. Hey, I'm guilty as charged when it comes to that. It could also be a small town stigma. You know, people talk. We love sports in this town like major cities do. We ove analyze and overreact to every nuance of the game.
Anyway, there is so much stuff going on and my ADD is screwing with me right now and I can't focus on just one sort of angle. Let me list you my thoughts: Diary Style.
The Good Days
--Jhonas Enroth is good. Alright, so he got burned last night. I know Millermaniacs are still up in arms about the way their hero has been treated, but there is no denying that #1 has played a lot better this year. Yes, the defense seems to be inconsistent, usually bad on Ryan Miller's nights, but Enroth seems to make more key stops than Ryan Miller does. He doesn't give up key rebounds and he just never seems to be out of position. I just hope he can carry the load since Miller is out. It could be a crossroad for Enroth. If he plays well, Miller could be manning the bench for a lot longer. If he struggles, Ruff will be sure to make #30 his everyday goalie.
--How impressed are you with 26-9-29? Can you imagine where the Sabres would be without their play? Vanek and Pominville are on pace for over 90 points and whenever the Sabres need a big goal, it seems like they are the ones who accomplish the task. I have said about 200 times over the years that the Sabres needed to find "That Guy". The guy who when the chips were on the table and you needed a goal, you could bank on him. I'm not sure if #29 or #26 or those guys yet, but they seem to be playing at a level we haven't seen since the co-captains. Derek Roy is back. He's been skating circles around the opposition over the last couple of games. Roy has 10 points in his last six games and this is coming after only getting 4 points in his first 11 games. If you include the hot start from Luke Adam, the foursome has 68 points on the season. The rest of the roster? 78 points. Can the Score Pack keep it up?
--Brad Boyes isn't that bad...for now. I think Nathan Gerbe is heading to Matt Barnaby treatment in this town. I say that because Barnaby always got a lot of fanfare, but he really wasn't that great. However, fans loved his edge. I think Gerbe has that edge and definitely has more talent. He's just a rat, just like Barnaby. Robyn Regehr is exactly what we wanted.
--I can't believe we are tied for first place. You can look with either a glass half empty or half full approach:
Half empty: The Sabres have been terrible in their own end. Their 90-million dollar blueline looks like the Rangers free agent class of 2007. They let their goalie get mugged and didn't do anything about it. Their 10 points in their last 6 games were against teams who aren't even in the top ten in their respective conferences. Great, so they are in first place. Remember when the Bills were 5-2 and everyone was excited and ignored the fact that the defense was pathetic? What happened? It caught up to them. The Sabres shortcomings could eventually catch up to them.
Half full: Even though we have problems, we are still in first place! Can you imagine if we solved those problems? The Sabres top 6 forwards have been awesome. When you look at the blueline on paper, they can't be this bad. Enroth has just one regulation loss since in a year. We know that guys like Stafford, Ehrhoff, Myers and Miller can play better. Once they get on a roll, we will be in good shape. Oh, and it's Mid-November!
The Puzzling Days
--When did Lindy swearing become a story? You always used to hear how the 90's Bills were complete di#ks to the local media, but it would hardly make the airwaves. Now, it becomes news. No, I'm not blaming all of it on the media. Hey, they have to get people to buy papers and get hits on their sites. We just love the drama of players vs. media. Anyone who is a blogger knows that when they write about the media and their dealings, it becomes a must hit post. I have no clue how it got to this point.
--I'm late to the party on whether Terry Pegula should have had a press conference or whatever, about the whole Penn State scandal. First off, I totally disagree with Bucky's column on how Pegula missed an opportunity to take a stand. Sorry, but I've heard more talking heads yell about this scandal than I care to hear anymore. I didn't need Pegula to pound his fist against the table and have Ted Black & company go to Happy Valley with pitch forks. I thought Pegula's statement was fine. Frankly, I don't care what he thinks about the scandal anymore because everyone has had their say on it.
--Now, do I have some problems with people calling TBN out for asking questions about the scandal? Yes. This is Journalism 101. Whenever any sort of scandal or story breaks down like this, as a good reporter, you should ask anyone who is directly/indirectly involved with the situation. Donating 88 million bucks to the athletic department (I don't care if it was badminton or archery), giving recommendations to an assistant PSU football coach for a job at Rutgers, and having one of the Sabres head guys (Cliff Benson) be a part of the Sandusky's Second Mile Foundation is more than enough to have me calling the Sabres. It will be interesting to see what happens down the road. Will the connection just go away or will TBN continue to press Pegula for comment? This scandal has rocked the sports world, which means readers want to hear every single angle of it. Controversy creates cash and you have to think TBN will work on the story because of that.
--Word of advice to TBN's reporters, DON'T GET YOUR POINT ACROSS BY USING CAPS!!! I get that it can be annoying to have tons of people comment or tweet to you that you were wrong in reporting the Pegula story, especially when their comments are misinformed. Hell, I made Puck Daddy and one of the comments was about me casting crappy reality shows. Yes, I cast crappy reality shows, but you can't say that to me! My thin skin got the best of me and I actually tracked the person down on Twitter. I wanted to use all caps, but I just playfully took a small jab at the comment. My point is, it can get pretty annoying to get criticism. However, that comes with the job and using CAPS isn't the way to make your comebacks.
--Now that Pegula has broken his silence with TSN, there has been a lot of talk on Twitter about how Pegula left TBN standing there like a girl who didn't get asked to Prom. The prevailing thought is that they got what they deserved. I'm a little conflicted on that one. On one hand, TBN has been kissing Pegula's ass since he took over ownership of the team. Hell, Bucky gave him credit for getting the Sabres to the playoffs last year because the players believed in him. It has been hugs and kisses from TBN. Of course, no one wants to talk about that. On the other hand, Bucky's column was a little lame about wanting more and having Pegula take a stand. I don't know, I think as a public figure, you have to take the good with the bad. Also, he didn't just say no to TBN, he pretty much said no to all the outlets in town who are talking about the story. If I'm TBN, I try not to complain too much about Pegula giving an exclusive interview with TSN. I know they did that a lot with Golisano, but public perception comes into play. Golisano was a jackass who wasn't liked, while Pegula is a man who is loved in this region. It will come off as having sour grapes. Just be careful is all I'm saying. Yell at the Sabres for not giving you an interview, not at your keyboard. But hey, if they do a post about it, they will get tons of hits and chatter on Twitter...and that's what it is all about.
NHL Rules & Fans
--Aren't we a strange bunch? It was only, what? 8 weeks ago when we were telling the NHL that they had a concussion problem, not just with hits to head that you would see during a game, but with enforcers getting their clocks punched in. Remember the three enforcers who died over the summer? Remember when talks of getting rid of fighting were the norm on Twitter? Not anymore. We want revenge. We want Lucic's head on a platter. We are begging for the Sabres to jump Tim Thomas. The CODE demands it! Yeah, we only want to get rid of headshots and fighting when we are not directly involved, however, once someone fu#ks with us, get Mike Milbury on the phone.
--Anyone think that part of the NHL front office has a problem with the Sabres? Truth be told, I think they are sick of the Sabres complaining. I go back to when Tom Golisano put out a front page ad in TBN (I wonder if he complained about the cost) about the Chris Neil hit on Chris Drury. The Sabres complained to everyone and their mother about the hit. Did he get suspended? No. When Miller went down with an injury, we heard the same complaints. I don't know, but I've always thought of the NHL as being like a macho cult. They don't like complainers. I wonder if they held that against the Sabres. I just picture Shanahan and all the goons in the front office saying the following, "Oh, it's those damn Sabres. Always complaining. First it was about Neil. Then it was about clutching and grabbing. Then they wanted World Juniors. Just shut up!" I mean, one of their reasons for not suspending Lucic had to do with him admitting to Shanahan that he didn't mean it. Really? Well, I'll be damned. There's your smoking gun if you want to get out of a suspension. Just say you didn't mean it. Maybe if you bring in a letter from your mom, you won't even have to say a word. Whatever. BTW, all you had to look at was Lucic's reaction when he was going to the penalty box. He was laughing all the way there.
--Like I said on Twitter, the Sabres need to just take matters into their own hands. It's like when you watch a mob movie. There always seems to be a scene where an innocent bystander comes in and complains about her husband being harassed. She complains and says that she wants to go to the cops. What does the mobster say? "Nah. You don't want to go to the cops. We'll take care of it." Yup, the mobsters settle out of court in their own way. Bullet to the head. Sabres have to take care of this themselves. It's not about revenge for me or the code. It's about how we have seen too many teams take liberty with their goalies and star players. From Boychuk slashing Thomas Vanek in the playoffs to Scott Gomez injuring Miller, it is time for the Sabres to stick up for themselves. Hockey is about being macho. There is a lot of chirping and mind games that are played between teams. You don't think a number of teams think the Sabres are soft? I don't need brawls, but I need for them to gain the respect of the opposition.
--I really don't have an opinion on Lucic not getting suspended. Should he have gotten 1 or 2 games? Yeah. However, I'm so immune to the constant wishy-washy rules that I don't really care anymore. They get what? Like 10 of these wrong a year? I think the league is serving so many masters with old-schoolers and new-schoolers and Don Cherry that I don't know what their message is suppose to be. It's like NFL officiating sometimes. What is a catch or pass interference? NHL standards: What is a hit to the head or a hit that's on purpose? What is the difference between Kaleta's headbutt and Lucic giving a concussion to a goalie? I'm lost and there's nothing Brendan Shanahan's Twitter page/videos can do to educate me.
--Lindy Ruff has lost his mind. Now, I mean this in a somewhat good way, but he's been nuts since the start of the season. He's swearing more than a drunken sailor. Leino's been on more lines than Al Pacino in Scarface. He's benching star players. He's playing Derek Roy on the point. He's playing Enroth when we all thought he'd play Miller. He's lost his mind. I just sense a lot of desperation on his part. It's as if he feels the pressure of having Pegula and his millions on his back. Maybe he feels like the fans? Hey, it's fine if it works. The Sabres are in first place.
The Bad Days
--What has happened to Tyler Myers? Yes, he had a vintage 2009/2010 performance against New Jersey. He hit, he scored and he looked nasty. However, what has been his deal? I mean, I thought he was the Sabres best player. It's ironic that this is the 2nd straight year he's had a slow start. Does he not believe in conditioning over the summer? Adjusting to linemates? I don't know, but he's been a turnover machine for the Sabres. He takes bad angles when he's lined up against an opposing forward and just doesn't seem to move all that well. I think the Sabres need to put him back with Robyn Regehr. There's just too much happy skating with #57 and #44 on the same pairing. Anyways, I just hope the message was sent to #57. Honestly, I think he'll be fine.
--Ryan Miller hates the media. Honestly, I think every Sabres player hates the media. Consider this: The Bills players are constantly doing interviews with The Edge, 97 Rock and even WGR. Last check, besides Ruff and Regier, none of Sabres have appearances on any of the radio shows in the area. It has been like that for a few years now. Last year, Patrick Kaleta had his own show on WGR, that's gone. I think Goose had one on WGR during the President's Trophy years. None of them have shows. I find that to be kind of odd.
--Memo to Millermaniacs: Shut up about telling the world that Miller would have been crucified if he let in this or that goal. You know what? I heard all you guys stick up for #30 last year when he had an off season and you blamed it on everyone else, except Ryan Miller. You blamed Bucky. You blamed the media. You blamed the bloggers. You blamed Toni Lydman. You blamed Golisano. Shut up! We know, he's an American hero. However, your NSYNC-like fandom for him has really made me just roll my eyes whenever you open your mouth. Bottom line: Go with the hot hand.
--To show that I will give love to the Millermaniacs, yes, if he let in five goals against the Devils, the fans would have booed his ass off the ice. Yeah, that is unfair. Damn. The People vs. Ryan Miller...what can I say? Could it get uglier?
--Shut up about Zach Kassian. This is why I don't care about prospects. Once you start reading into the "Oh, he beat this guy at a bar and he's playing on World Juniors", you start playing tricks on your mind. I always felt the Sabres and at times, the media have made too much of a big deal about their prospects. The unknown is always exciting. Especially when it's about a player whose attributes are fighting and being a physical presence. The guy is not ready. It takes at least a year or two for these guys to find themselves in the AHL. No one can be Tyler Myers. Anyway, he ain't walking through those doors this year.
--When did Paul Gaustad become a finesse forward? The Sabres pay him to be a physical presence and I can't recall the last time he made a physical play. He makes over 2 million bucks and I kind of think about 25% of his salary should go to winning faceoffs.
--Matt Kemp just signed an extension with the Dodgers worth almost 3x the amount that Golisano paid for the Sabres.
Alright, that about covers the history of the world. Did I miss anything?