The Outlander Top moment of season until today
I really didn't know when I was going to write another post here. The Red Sox season- while for me magical and enthralling- has been described in many different publications and blogs by many different writers than myself in much more satisfying ways. Not to mention our readership's approval rating of the Red Sox has got to be hovering in the same ballpark as Congress' and I don't need to put something out exhalting my joy just for all you to shit all over it.
You're not my real dad dammit.
As for our local teams, up until about 9:15 this morning, what could really be said? Our Bills weekly previews and reviews capture this season's varying degrees of optimism and hopelessness, especially now that we just got clocked with the 2x4 of reality watching the Pittsburgh game. The best Sabres forward of the past fifteen years got traded and the team has embarked on a journey that many fan bases have endured but virtually no one who has ever watched this team has had to witness: the laughingstock year. The year of catching shit from every friend or coworker who roots for other teams or generally enjoys the despair of others; the season of watching them in numb resignation, too indifferent to yell at the television, not because the team didn't look terrible but because you knew that they simply couldn't do any better. They're a cast of guys who may be perfectly likable and able to contribute to the right team (except Stafford, fuck him), but to watch them skate around for two and a half hours chasing their own tail just simply wasn't a good use of our time.
The constant theme to make us want to tear our hair out- those of you with any considerable remaining scraps anyways- was the decision-making of the coach regarding lines, scratches and ice time, really the only things that a coach does that are pretty easy and straightforward. A coach watches the players and puts the best ones on the ice, with the most offensively skilled players matching up with others of their like. It's literally the only thing that someone playing NHL '14 can do as well as a real coach. And somehow, someway, this team managed to place a man in this position who could not even be passable at this task. These are not mistakes - as Doug Marrone, for instance, freely admits to making when they appear - it was a failure of philosophy; a flaw in Ron Rolston's hockey DNA that poisoned the entire franchise in a matter of months and has at the very least set back the development of young talent and possibly derailed it permanently. It's easy to not care about who wears the "C" when they're in the rightfully earned position for their skill set. It is much harder to ignore when that same player is being double shifted in the third period of a game you're being outshot by thirty.
So where did this get us, or me more specifically? I was offered tickets to last night's game and had not even the slightest bit of interest because there was a UB FOOTBALL game on television. Tickets were hovering in the low teens and I didn't even consider heading down to the FNC to take in the carnage. The overhead of attending a game (traffic, new security measures, parking, a late bedtime on a weeknight) had become too much to see what has been my favorite local team since well before I was a teenager. I've spent thirty bucks on weeknights just to yell at Patrick Lalime about how much he sucks, but I could no longer be bothered. A 3-7 Bills team appeared light years ahead of their NHL counterpart and it wasn't close. Any optimism for the future, be it trades, draft picks or free agents could be dismissed simply by mentioning those who were in charge of acquiring talent and developing talent. I am confident in saying there has not been as dark a time regarding the cumulative future of our professional teams, and while the Bills have had bright spots in the midst of an objectively dismal record, what did we have to look forward to regarding the hockey team? The jersey retirement of a guy who hasn't played for them in a dozen years? The failure of the young kids to ultimately develop and trigger the long overdue firing of Rolston some three years down the road? The hope that maybe the third time the seemingly immovable General Manager failed at rebuilding a team from the ground up, it would be his curtain call?
Over six years removed from their last playoff series victory that distant hope for the future was too far off for many, including myself.
News happened yesterday. We blew the conch, gathered, and produced this. Enjoy.
Music by, well, I won't ruin the surprise. You're welcome.
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Another guest contributor? Another guest contributor.
By Peter Berkes
I’m going to try to keep this brief. Last year, they lost me.
Fresh on the heels of another mediocre season and a prolonged, acrimonious, and completely avoidable lockout, the Buffalo Sabres started out the 2012-13 season like dog mess stuck to a boot. At that point, my frustration with the franchise reached critical mass, and I cashed out. I think I actually said to a TV, “Look, call me when you’re interested in being good again, because this shit is not working for me.”
That was somewhere between games five and ten last year, and since then, I haven’t watched more than a stray minute or two of the Sabres. To be perfectly honest, I haven’t missed them. Sure, I stayed up to date with what was happening on twitter since there’s no way I could unfollow everyone in Buffalo twitter, but I was pretty much completely disengaged from the team.
It’s a really and truly weird thing to actively dislike your favorite team. Sure, we all have that on some level with the Bills, but it was different for me with the Sabres. And it all came back to God damn Darcy Regier.
I can handle failure. I mean, Jesus, I’m a Buffalo sports fan. Failure happens, but this franchise has been a walking, shambling corpse. It felt like Terry Pegula, the man we all thought was going to spend this team to a championship in short order, was nothing more than some stammering Whiner Line regular who was still stuck in the 90s. But after finally pulling the plug on Regier and Ron Rolston, it feels like there may actually be something good that comes from all this.
The thought of Regier attempting to rebuild this franchise after he personally steered it into the ditch was, for the lack of a better term, completely fucked. We don’t know if Pat LaFontaine and whoever he hires to be general manager will be any better, but it’s different, and that’s enough to get my attention. Yes, that’s pretty sad, but that’s where we are. This is Progress. Capital P. I don’t really care about Ted Nolan. He’s not going to be around next year anyway, so just play the kids a lot every night and get the team working hard and I’ll consider his return a success.
There have been a lot of people that think this move is just more bullshit from the Sabres because they brought back two guys with ties to the team. It’s certainly possible. LaFontaine doesn’t have any real experience as an executive, but he at least realizes it. He seems smart enough to hire someone who has done this before. But the larger point is this: Just because someone has ties to the organization doesn’t mean they’re clueless. It makes for an easy joke because hurr durr Buffalo, but anyone who says so is more interested in humping away at narrative than assessing the situation honestly. I want the best possible people to be the coach and GM of the Sabres, and I don’t care where they’re from. Hopefully Pat can put those people in place. If not, hopefully it doesn’t take a billion years for him and everyone else to be replaced.
So am I back in? I don’t know. What I do know, though, is that they have my attention. Let’s go.
The first of many takes on this news... Guest contributor, former full-timer...
This is all very odd. It probably has something to do with my fever-ridden brain, but all of this feels as if it may vanish next morning. Am I going to wake up in bed with Susane Pleshette? Is Patrick Duffy going to be in the shower? Am I a kid with autism staring at a snow globe?
Terry Pegula finally took full ownership of the Buffalo Sabres on Tuesday night when he relieved General Manager Darcy Regier and Head Coach Ron Rolston on their posts. Regier had been GM for the Sabres for 16 years, winning no championships. In their places: Pat LaFontaine as President of Hockey Operations and Ted Nolan - TED NOLAN WHAT THE FUCK - as interim Head Coach. Now the last vestiges of Golisano and Rigas are gone. This is the real Pegula Day.
I've always kind of wondered about Pegula and his level control with this team. He took charge in a bath of glory from a desperate fanbase and then immediately proclaimed that nothing would change. There was no new vision. There was no grand strategic plan. It was the men he retained, finally being free of inept management. Pegula found out, brutally, that the ineptness resided within the room.
It could not be easy for the man. He showed deep emotional committment to Lindy Ruff and Regier on the day he took full vestment. He had to believe deep down in their abilities. To come to the realization that maybe your heroes cant save the world is, to borrow from Ruff's dialog, a tough one. But controlling a sports team means, quite often, having to dispense with the people you love and respect most in order to maintain peak performance. Pegula's sentimentality got the better of him. We should hope its a mistake he never makes again.
The Sabres have maybe acquired something they haven't had since the lockout of 2004, and that is vision. The infusion of LaFontaine may bring that grand plan the team had desperately been lacking for so long. Since Pegula bought the team they have wandered from one half-assed strategy to the next. They thought they could turn it around right when he bought the team in 2011, but couldn't quite make it work. No one could agree as to whether they were rebuilding or not after that. Did they start rebuilding last year? When they fired Ruff? When they hired Rolston? When they traded Pominville? The ship was without a captain.
Regier was always good at holding a thing together, but it felt like he was taking direction from elsewhere. He did well when someone else wrote the rules of engagement. Both Rigas and Golisano set financial goals for the franchise and had direct impact on personnel decisions made by the team. Pegula was adamant that wouldn't happen again, but assumed that the man taking orders was being restrained by the financial constraints as opposed to fulfilling the job at which he was his best. Pegula got a chance to see Regier's style of management for himself, free of interference, and saw a void. "Fuck. Maybe I was wrong. Maybe I just wanted to believe in this guy."
Hey man, you always said you were a fan first. Well this is a first rate fan fuck up. We do this shit all the time.
The blessings of unimaginable personal wealth is that you can fuck up without any personal risk. Saying Pegula is getting a second chance at this isn't quite phrasing right, because the guy never really took the helm, nor does he necessarily have a finite number of chances to take. This is where the guy is giving it a shot. This is where his mark is to be made. The fact that LaFontaine and Nolan both have been with this franchise before and worked together on Long Island in a similar capacity should not be mistaken for another bout of crippling sentimentality (although there is a great risk of it being just that). The two of them bring definitiveness.
No one would ever accuse Ted Nolan of being ambiguous. His goal and ambitions are clear to the point of friction. He causes intense heat in organizations. Lucky for him he joins a franchise where all the boilers are out. There maybe isn't a greater myth, in the classic sense of the word, in Buffalo sports than that of Nolan's ability to draw blood from stone and passion from the uninspired. His team was The Hardest Working Team In The NHL. They may not be good, but at least they will beat the shit out of somebody. Plenty of the old schoolers will be out in force clamoring for the days of the mid-90s. They'll march down Washington Street carrying signs that read "Corsi Who?" and "Math Can't Win In The Streets." They will be put to bed by a lullaby of Bob Boughner and Brad May, sleeping to dream of an end to analytics.
Seeing this element pop up makes me uneasy. I could hold my breath comfortably within the time one of these 90s hockey-worshiping mastodons calls an opposing player a faggot. Not the classiest brigade in the order of battle. Perhaps though, this is part of the myth building. Nolan's last gig was Head Coach of the Latvian national team. International hockey is not the best arena for rock'em sock'em hockey, yet Nolan got his squad into the Olympics. Maybe the man has more than just a bag of hammers in his toolbox, even if that's not what many Sabres fans care about right now.
LaFontaine got fired from the Islanders for telling them what he thought. That act should shine as an act of bureaucratic valor unparalleled in hockey. He is now on the outs on the Island. Their loss. I don't quite know what his game plan is. He never got a chance to put it into effect with the Islanders, but whatever it was it pissed off Charles Wang to the point of termination. Tell me more, Mr. LaFontaine.
We are in a position of potential energy maybe unseen in Buffalo sports. U.B. football is on the rise and Bulls hoops has a new lead. The Bills have completely turned over, Ralph Wilson is incapable of fucking it up, and just maybe they have a quarterback. And now the Sabres have finally, mercifully done what they should have done three years ago in releasing Regier.
Happy Pegula Day.
When there's something strange....in the neighborhood.....
Guess who's back? Back Again. Guess who's back? TELL A FRIEND!
Due to popular demand and my own sheer boredom, welcome to the third installment of Buffalo Sabres: Where Are They Now?
If you are new to DGWU Sports in the last year, this all started as a dumb hashtag on twitter when I was bored at home on a Sunday night. Well, it's Tuesday morning, work is slow, and I compiled a nice little list with the help of some friends on the tweet machine. Enjoy yourself and start thinking up ideas to tweet me
for "2012 - Part 2." Oh yeah, and you can read the last year's two installments here
Ville Leino: Somewhere in Finland, diving into a pile of cash like Scrooge McDuck, except missing five feet wide and yet still laughing maniacally.
(assist from @JG_1611
Tim Kennedy: Filling out an application to be groundskeeper at Patrick Kane's new house in Hamburg. - from @Boner_Shorts http://lokihockey.tumblr.com/
Dominic Hasek: Working out for his big comeback. This involves vodka, pilates, vodka, 117 cortisone injections, and vodka. Handsome. Man.
Pat Lafontaine: Staring at a picture of himself staring at a picture of himself staring at himself in a mirror. - from the Barrister
Jason Botterill: Laughing at Sabres fans on twitter who thought a Roy for J. Staal trade would actually ever happen. Der
Chris Butler: Still being fucking terrible at hockey somewhere. This smells of the poop triangle.
Robyn Regehr: Staring at the living room wall while chewing a rock. - from @Boner_Shorts
Shaone Morrisonn: Taking his talents to Южная Бич. And by talents I mean the extra n in his last name.
Tom Golisano: Wondering how his bid for the Dodgers didn't win - Free payroll service & a coupon to Quiznos - from @JG_1611 oops
Steve Bernier: Hanging out with his new friends Scott Norwood, Bill Buckner, and Greg Norman. Somebody needs another.
Jason Pominville: Sitting in an empty locker room, rocking back and forth repeating "You're not Craig Rivet. You're not Craig Rivet" to himself over & over again.
Tyler Ennis: Auditioning for part of Crutchy in the touring production of Newsies. - from the Barrister
Taro Tsujimoto: Whereabouts unknown, but still better than Mike Weber.
Book it. Follow me @TheScizz
and feel free to leave other #WhereAreTheyNow ideas
in the comment section. Go Sabres?
Atlas knows the depth of all the sea, and bears the long columns which keep asunder...
The YachtsmanLast evening, the Sabres continued their march towards Pegula-Powered Playoff Destiny.
The Demon Swede performed admirably once again, stopping 23 pucks fired at him by one of the NHL's best offensive squads. The Sabres offense, led by TV Party Tommy Vanek, put three goals + an empty netter on old friend Dwayne "Rolie The Goalie" Roloson. Highlight of the night, of course, was a hatty by Atlas Vanek (pad tap to Ryan at The Goose's Roost's AM ode to TV
.....some of the best sabreweb musings I've read in a while). In keeping with my new tradition of matching songs with fantastic Sabre performances, I've decided to match up TV with Daft Punk's amazing Television Rules the Nation/Crescendolls from Alive 2007. I was in Europe for this show at Paris' Bercy and then in New York the following week when they played the McCarren Park Pool and I missed both shows. That still burns a puck-sized hole in my soul that will never close.
As Ryan at Goose's Roost points out, if you're not on the TV train by now, you never will be. Last night was another reinforcement of Regier's decision to sign Vanek to that "huge" contract. Vanek's play, demeanor, and hustle are clear indicators that he should be the official leader of this team. I've been racking my brain all morning to figure out why Ruff hasn't slapped a C on his chest and called it a day. Maybe some of you readers (okay, reader - singular) can help me out with this. Is there some sort of vote that would need to occur? Is there a lockerroom rift that would prevent Vanek from Captaincy that we can't see? If so, who would those players be?! If the Sabres go deep and God almighty do the unthinkable and unspeakable, who would Bettman pass that thing that I don't talk about around this time of year to first?*
'It's OK Lindy, trust me....he can handle it.'
SIDENOTES- Apparently, I'm an idiot, because this has been up for a while but I've missed it: the 7 for Rick Martin in the trapezoid? Amazing. Little things like that are making me (Grand Imperial Doubter of Doubting Thomases) really believe in this Pegula fellow.- A nagging doubt was planted in my head months ago when Vanek made the remark about Roy's puck hogging
. Now that nagging doubt has turned into a fantasy trade scenario in which we offload Roy, save the money to re-sign Stafford, and make it rain all over next season with cap space, picks, and a marquee FA. Am I taking the Douche Train to Idiotville on this one?- For some odd, strange reason....this team is looking very talented right now. Not only because of their respectable-to-great play as of late, but because of the awfultudinal play by the other top Eastern Conference squads - namely the Bruins & the Flyers. Friday night will be full of stark revelations for the hockey communities of Southern PA and Western New York.
However, The Caps & The Pens still scare me like "The Ring".- Also on Friday, Pegula has invited 75 Sabres' Alumni to the Arena for Fan Appreciation night. All the big names of course, but perusing through this list, their are some massively unintentionally hilarious names & some awe inspiring awesomenitude.....here are some highlights:
- Richard Smehlik - the man who inspired the Lexington Avenue Street Hockey League Favorite: "You just pulled a Smehlik"- Michal Grosek - the most frustratingly talented no goal scoring goal scorer of the 90s (and we had a quite a few)- Wayne Primeau - the Frank Stallone of the NHL!- Mike Wilson - YOU WERE SUPPOSED TO COVER HASEK'S RIGHT POST!!!! WHY DID JUNEAU GET IN SO GD CLOSE!?!?!?- Phil Housley - the best Sabre Defenseman ever. EVER.- Pat Lafontaine - God it's been too long Patty...- Jim Lorentz - oh, Jimmy, how we miss you so- Brad May - hardest punch of the 90s...arguably the greatest goal of the 90s too...- Gerry Meehan - we need more ex-Captains to come by and give TV a vote of confidenceIf one of you kind readers would do me a favor and record/send/upload the pre-game ceremony to me and/or youtube, it would be much much much appreciated. These are the moments when NYC makes me sad because I can't be on the golden shores of Lake Erie.* The Daughters Pegula, of course.