Archive for the ‘Thomas Vanek’ Category

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What’s Next?

February 24, 2011

- If you’ve been reading this blog for any length of time, you know that I am a fan of The West Wing. One of Josiah Bartlet’s favorite things to ask on the show is “what’s next?” Terry Pegula answered that question for us on Tuesday: what’s next is winning a Stanley Cup. Before that (or to aid in that), the immediate “what’s next?” is to attract players to Buffalo. We all know that players fall in love with Buffalo once they get here, it’s the getting them here that’s been the hard part. Gossip about how previous management treated the players ran rampant throughout the league, and no matter how much current players talked up the organization, players were reluctant to come here. I have a feeling that Pegula’s true enthusiasm for the team, the sport and the city is going to shine through and that we may be seeing free agents start wanting to come here during free agent season.

- I said on Twitter last night that Pegula must be feeling like a kid in a candy store. He’s met his hero Perreault, was surprised at center ice by the French Connection, and had an entire arena full of fans chanting his name. Where else can you go from there?

- According to Thomas Vanek’s official blog, Pegula is throwing a party at the arena for not only the Sabres players & staffers, but also their families. I really do think that is a nice touch, as the families are just as important as the players themselves. And if you continue reading Vanek’s blog, it seems that his mini backyard rink is the site of quite the ruckus when Leopold & Lalime bring their kids over. I really like hearing warm and fuzzy anecdotes like this one, as it stresses how close some of them are off the ice. We rarely hear stories like this from the media because warm and fuzzy generally doesn’t sell papers or gross ratings points. I’m not saying I want an entire sports report or sports section full of warm and fuzzy, but the occasional bit would be nice. And can someone tell me how the Sabres can have a no-Twitter policy, but yet Vanek can still blog? A blog is still social media. Just saying…

- The decision to waive Rivet was shocking on one hand because he’s the team captain, but yet not shocking because the guy has had his rear permanently glued to a seat in the press box for a good chunk of this season. It’s going to be fascinating to see whether another team picks him up on the re-entry wire, or whether he just fades back into the press box for the remainder of the season if Darcy can’t pull a trade out of his hat.

- I’m decidedly not a fan of Pegula calling out local sportswriters for being tough on players. By their play – or lack thereof – players help sportswriters make the case that they are soft, fragile, clumsy, lazy and whatever other adjective has been used to describe some players lately. Writers write what they see. They aren’t paid to be the team’s spin doctors (that’s what PR guys are for*). Sports writers are meant to be objective news reporters, or in the case of commentary, present their arguments in a logical and hopefully fair manner. It’s not the owner’s job to plead the case for his players. The players should be able to handle a little criticism from the media. They’re professional athletes and grown ups. They shouldn’t be running to PR/management every time the media has a negative thing to say about them.

*I know PR isn’t spin. Put your rotten tomatoes down.

That’s not to say that the media is blameless in its somewhat contentious relationship with the team. There are times that issues have been hashed and rehashed until they’ve just turned into a talking point that seems to be included because it’s expected. I think that both sides need to move on and just start with a fresh slate now that there’s a new man in town. What’s in the past is in the past. Move on.

- Finally, and this is completely not hockey related, I watched the launch of Space Shuttle Discovery before I left the office today. There’s always something exciting and awesome about a space shuttle launch. I mean, it’s 6 very brave men and women sitting on top of a rocket getting hurtled into the great unknown. There’s a lot that can go wrong (and has).  The fact that the shuttle program is winding down and there is no viable replacement in sight makes me kind of sad for what this current generation of kids is going to miss. My parents, as most baby boomers, grew up in the midst of the Cold War and the space race. As kids, they lived through JFK promising a moon landing and the growth of the Apollo program. They encouraged their kids – my peers – to study math and science so that they could be astronauts some day. Game shows targeted to kids regularly gave away trips to space camp. The way things are going, my generation is going to be the last one to grow up with space travel as a “regular” thing. What’s next after there’s no shuttle to hurtle people into outer space? Do we not strive for the moon or further exploration because there’s budget difficulties and cuts have to be made somewhere? Who knows. I feel like this scene from the West Wing encapsulates why space is still so important:

What’s next, indeed.

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“I’m Not Into Whimsy”

November 15, 2010

Tonight’s blog title courtesy of everyone’s favorite cranky curmudgeon, Mike Robitaille.

- Ryan Kesler, honey, we need to have a little chat. I know you’re on my fantasy hockey team, and you wanted to remind me of your presence on the ice tonight, but no need to give me a shoutout by bouncing your head off the crossbar. That is not a Shots Off the Crossbar approved shoutout. I don’t care that you appear to have no problem posing in just your underpants,  just please don’t bounce your head off the crossbar again. (There’s a sentence I never thought I’d write.)

- The crowd seemed much noisier tonight than in previous games. Was it a mix of loud Canadian fans? The value ticket pricing? An energized crowd with a team that’s actually playing  like it gives a hoot? Who knows, but it’s good to be able to clearly hear the crowd in the background behind RJ & Harry. Too many times this year, HSBC has been as quiet as a tomb.

- If I were Mrs. Vanek, I’d be dangerously close to injuring Rob Ray due to tonight’s broadcast. How many comments did Ray make about her husband getting a good night sleep now that the twins arrived? Hardyhar. I know Ray has kids, so he can joke about it from a place of experience, but the woman just evacuated two tiny humans from her body and has a toddler at home. Let her and her hubby enjoy the moment before you start snarking at them. And on a related note, I love the names the Vaneks chose for their children. They’re common, but unique at the same time, if that makes any sense. There’s not a lot of kids named Luka or Kade running around on the playground these days.

- With that game winning goal, Tyler Myers officially redeems himself for all of the times he fell down earlier this season and caused opposition goals. His winning goal was just a thing of beauty, and I’m sure some poor Canuck is going to hear all about how you can’t not cover the big 6’7 guy in the middle of the ice. What a great ending to an exciting overtime period. Both teams had great chances until Tyler stepped up and said eff this and ended the game.

- During the postgame celebration, did anyone else notice Lalime jumping up and down, like he was engaging in his own version of a potty dance?

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I’m Back!

November 13, 2010

- Blahblahblah work is picking up, on the road for a couple days, lost my blogging mojo blahblahblahblah. But I’m back!

- I was reading some of the coverage this week regarding the anniversary of Pelle Lindbergh’s death. I found it interesting not only that the team had a bar over its practice facility, but also that one of Lindbergh’s teammates is now a minister at a church in Clarence. It really is a small world.

While we’re talking about drunk driving, a racing forum I frequent mentioned that NFL players have access to a designated driver & car fetch service at all times, with no questions asked by either the team/league. Does the NHL have something like that available for its players, or are they all responsible for finding their own DD’s/calling a cab/booking a hotel room once they are too inebriated to drive?

- The pregame ceremony honoring Mike Grier was a nice way to start the game. I loved the nice little video the Sabres put together with words of congrats from former & current teammates. I did think it was adorable that Pommers chose to address him as “Michael,” while the rest of the gang (Miller, Goose & Rivet) chose to address him as “Griersy.” And his kids are quite precious.

- Good to finally see Thomas Vanek back and scoring goals. And beautiful, beautiful goals at that. The pure joy on his face – and his teammates faces – when the puck went in was so nice to see. I feel like that for as much as we the fans are hard on Vanek, that he’s 1,000 times harder on himself. Now he should just relax and rest up and enjoy things before the birth of his twins (which, if his website is anything to go by, are scheduled to arrive on Monday.)

- Before the game, I purchased my tickets to my annual bit of culture – going to see the BPO’s Holiday Pops show. There is a time and a place for holiday fun and frolic, and December is just that time. (Do you hear me, Wegmans? I should not be hearing Christmas carols while I’m waiting in line at the deli. Not that that happened to me today or anything.)

- How can you live in Western New York and NOT know that the red flowers that the broadcast crew is sporting are poppies and signify remembrance? That makes me sad. Look up “In Flanders Fields” on Wiki for further details.

- One last thought, what is with those huge rope/plastic/bead necklaces that some of the players are wearing? I noticed Roy’s tonight during his postgame interview. Are they supermagical healing necklaces or the next fashion trend?

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Defining Moments

June 14, 2010

Greg Wyshynski from Puck Daddy asked on Twitter this afternoon what (if any) moments fans would put into their mental scrapbooks that chronicle this past season. There’s a couple Sabres moments that stick out for me…

- Ryan Miller looking like someone drove over his puppy after the gold medal game against Canada. Dude was ready to cry, but sucked it up and wore his silver medal with pride.

- Another Miller moment: after the Boston series ended, Miller standing at the Sabres blue line, hands on hips, with a beeyotch, please look on his face, waiting for his teammates to stop carrying on and just shake hands with the Bruins already.

- The photos and tales that came out of the Sabres encounter with the furry convention in San Jose. You could completely tell that the players had no clue what was going on, but just rolled with it anyway.

- Tyler Myers playing over 28 minutes in ice time despite being one of several players worshipping the porcelain god on a road trip to Ottawa.

- Myers scoring in the shootout against Tampa on my birthday.

- The wonder that was Drew Stafford on Twitter. Come back Drew, come back! Then again, I’d rather you show up on the ice than in the Twitterverse.

- Vanek’s horrible injury luck. Did anyone have an idea that his injuries were THAT bad? It’s only a flesh wound my arse.

What else?

*~*~*~*~*

So in April I spied Gaustad and Miller wearing the same shoes during locker cleanout. It looks like we have another member of this shoe club: Brian Campbell. Check out photo #11 of the Blackhawks parade gallery. Coincidence or random shoe shopping trip at some point? You make the call.

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Sabres vs. Sens – Please Let Them Win

April 10, 2010

- I’m knitting during tonight’s game, so there’s a lot of multitasking going on, especially as the blanket I am knitting is getting to the rather unwieldy in size stage.

- Puck drop is delayed as the Sens are honoring Alfredsson for playing in his 1,000th career game. The delay might actually end up being a good thing, as this MSG feed is very herky jerky, with constant stops and starts and stutters. If you can upgrade my cable guide, you can deliver me a good quality hockey feed. While this Alfie ceremony is long, his kids are completely adorable and the one is hilariously mugging for the camera.

- It’s officially springtime in Buffalo: Mr. Softee trucks are on the streets and Marineland ads are on display. (I dare you to not have the Marineland jingle stuck in your head after seeing the TV commercial.)

- I know statistics are right up there with lies and damned lies, but the Sens have won 9 in a row against the Sabres. If this was Vegas, I’d be betting on the Sabres, because at some point, the odds turn against the dominant team. Look what happened last month with the Sabres and the Leafs: the Sabres had a pretty lengthy winning streak against the Leafs and it was snapped just like that.

- Dear MSG: once you’ve fixed my feed, can you make a note for future games that showing the national anthems is a great idea? HNiC does it. Most local teams do it. Why don’t you? And have I mentioned lately that I love when the crowd sings along to “Oh Canada?”

- A quick poll on Twitter shows that the MSG feed is jittery for all, and not just those of us with TWC.

- The feed also decides to inappropriately cut out as Sutton decides to smush the hell out of Stafford, who spends a good few minutes on the ice and eventually gingerly heads off the ice. The end result is that both teams are shorthanded as Torres and Sutton are both sent to the box.

- Vanek makes it 1-0, Sabres as he taps the puck into a wide open net, as Leclaire was badly out of position.

- I really think there’s going to be bloodshed tonight, as Neil goes after Roy and Ruutu tackles a yet to-be-determined Sabre after a Leclaire save. How can you attack Roy? It’s like going after a little yappy chihuahua that’s writing checks it thinks its body can cash.

- WHOO! Vanek scores off of a gorgeous Roy pass as Vanek had wandered in all alone to the net. 2-0, Sabres.

- We’re told that Stafford won’t be returning tonight as he has an upper body injury. That might just be the “no sh*t, sherlock” injury description of the year. We all saw him get knocked into next Tuesday.

- This playoff flashback or whatever they’re calling it showing Pommers hat trick from 2006 subtly points out that Pommers isn’t one of the kids any more. He looked so young then!

- Neil makes it 2-1, Sabres as he slips the puck through the half inch of space between Miller’s leg and the goalpost. Have I mentioned how much I hate Chris Neil?

- Vanek makes it 3-1, Sabres on a penalty shot after he gets chopped down on a breakaway. The chop to the ankles looks like it’s causing Vanek quite a bit of pain. Since Vanek now has a set of triplets (Manny, Moe & Jack), when is the first play date scheduled with Pominville’s triplets (Huey, Dewey & Louie)?

- So the triplets have now become quadruplets as Vanek knocks the puck out of mid-air past Leclaire. 4-1, Sabres.

- Looking at the new Patrick Roy “History will be made” ad, its still shocking to see how tiny the goalie gear was even in the mid-80s. Do we think that Miller or Lalime would willingly get on the ice against today’s hard shots with such pithy gear? And I know we all mock Miller’s quirks, but at least he doesn’t talk to goalposts or hop, skip and jump over blue lines.*

* that we know of

- WHOOO! Roy breaks the Vanek stranglehold on the scoring and makes it 5-1, Sabres.

- Donovan decides to try and make things interesting, as he makes it 5-2, Sabres. Too little, too late, my friend.

- WHEEE! The Sabres finally beat Ottawa and do it with minimal bloodshed. (Well, Staffy technically wasn’t bleeding, but you know what I mean.) This was a critical win for the Sabres. They managed to get Ottawa out of their heads and do it while kicking some ass. (Did someone watch before the game the scene in The Cutting Edge where Kate announces she’s in the mood to kick a little ass? Because really, the Sabres were totally in ass kicking mode tonight. Or did Lindy somehow manage to invent a Wayback Machine and get the 2005-06 Sabres that beat Ottawa to come and pep talk these guys?)

- Sweet merciful hockey playing baby Jesus, what the eff is Don Cherry wearing tonight? It’s like an Ikea duvet cover committed suicide and the remains became a suit coat.

- So tomorrow could be a fun day of hockey. Sabres/Devils settles positions 2 and 3 in the conference while Rangers / Flyers determines who gets to sit at home and stew for the remainder of the summer.

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Sabres vs. Islanders – 11.4.09

November 4, 2009

Pregame

-  The Sabres have recalled Jhonas Enroth from Portland as Patrick Lalime is battling a groin injury.

- Ralph Lauren is starting to reveal the US Olympic Team attire for the Vancouver games. What’s pictured in the below screen capture from my e-mail is the closing ceremony attire. Please try and imagine a certain goalie in said apparel.

rloly

The sweater looks like something my high school English teacher lived in.

- Marty Biron is back in town, and he reveals that he and his wife are expecting a little girl. There’s a joke about getting slipping one past the goalie here. I just can’t find it.

- Today is the 40th anniversary of Sesame Street. All together now…

Sunny day, sweeping the clouds away

On my way to where the air is sweet

Can you tell me how to get, how to get to Sesame Street?

First Period

- Whee! Bradley Whitford is going to be back on my television again. I f’love Bradley Whitford. Even with that unfortunate dye job he had in Billy Madison.

-It’s still early in the game, but so far it’s miles better than Saturday night’s fiasco. There’s an energy about the guys that wasn’t there on Saturday. Saturday felt like they were just doing a piss poor imitation of going through the motions.

- Gaustad apparently is feeling much better, as he’s back to his regular role as a dancing bear in front of the opponent’s net.

- Roy-Z finally scores…in the hockey arena that is. Roy fires a shot from the top of the faceoff circle while Vanek is playing dancing bear in front of Marty. In the celebration, the Sabres played Chelsea Dagger. Is every team going to be ripping off the Blackhawks now? 1-0, Sabres.

- Kaleta is the victim of a very nice hip check so he “retaliates” by shoving the Islanders defenseman into Marty who then comes out of his crease after Kaleta and tries to love him, hug him and call him George. When all is said and done, the Islanders are on the power play. Kaleta and Stafford are sitting in the penalty box, the latter looking very bumfuzzled as to why he is there. I wonder if he is the Sabres designated penalty bitch?

- The Islanders again send the Sabres to the power play, as Sim was a very bad boy and held, hooked or grabbed a Sabre. That vague description of the penalty was brought to you by our astute color commentator Harry Neale.

- Who peed in Marty Biron’s cornflakes tonight? He’s been a feisty little devil, going after Kaleta and then Rivet. Not sure what caused him to go after Rivet, as the camera was focused on MacArthur slowly getting up after he was clobbered from behind and into the goal post.

- The Sabres spent a heck of a long time on the power play. I almost became one of those people yelling “Shoot” while the Sabres put on a passing clinic during the power play.

- Random Sesame Street video to end the period with…

Second Period

- Both teams appear to be exceptionally chatty tonight as there’s a lot of chatter coming from the ice. Most of it isn’t fit for mixed company.

- So I think I left my iPod playing at my desk when I left for the day. I pray that it doesn’t shuffle to “Put It in My Mouth” or anything else controversial while the cleaning guy is in the area.

- The Sabres get a giggle out of me for playing the Miami Vice theme song during a stoppage in play. Miami Vice was such a good, cheesy show. They generally don’t make shows like that any more.

- Sekera gets out of the penalty box and tries to jam the puck past Marty on a mini-breakaway. Marty stops him cold. Meanwhile, Tyler Myers limps over to the bench after taking a shot off the foot in the Islanders end of the rink. It must have just been a stinger, as Myers is back out for his next shift.

- Oh eff me. I just read that Sandra Lee is looking forward to bringing great garnishes to the Governor’s mansion in 2010 once her sweet baboo wins election. As if NY isn’t in enough of a mess as it is, we now have to worry about her Semi-Ho’ing her way through Albany.

- Vanek feeds an absolutely gorgeous pass to a wide open Stafford, who then sadly misses the wide open net.

- Can we please stop with the live action Cellino & Barnes pop-up ads already?

- As Harry Neale is rattling off Enroth’s stats from Portland, the camera pans to the young Swede sitting on the bench. Maybe I’m just used to the jolly Lalime or the cranky Miller sitting on the bench, but Enroth looks like an overgrown five year old in full goalie gear.

- Witt is sent to the penalty box for hitting Grier from behind, sending Grier face first into the glass. Grier takes quite a long time to get up, collect his gear that went flying and make it to the bench. Even so, he doesn’t look like all his eggs are unbroken in the basket, if you know what I mean.Vanek manages to score on this power play, as he pokes the puck past Marty, who’s diving in the opposite direction.2-0, Sabres.

- That may be Vanek’s fifth goal of the year, but why does it seem like it’s his first? It feels like its been awhile since he last lit the lamp.

- Marty heads all the way out to the face off circle to stop the puck and gets badly, badly caught out of the net. The Sabres aren’t able to put the puck into the empty net. Though they sure did try hard.

Random Sesame Street YouTube to end the second period…

Third Period

- Roy is 8-0 on face offs tonight. I’d like to see that kind of consistency from him throughout the remainder of the season. It would be nice to have a second face off guru besides Gaustad (and his young padawan, Kennedy).

- Vanek gets a breakaway on Marty, but he gets slashed from behind and isn’t able to complete a solid shot, as he only has one hand on the stick. He does at least get an Academy Award nomination for trying to sell the slash to the refs (they didn’t think much of it).

- You can tell how exciting this third period is by how much I have to say about it. The Sabres have had several good chances, but Marty appears to have found his game again.

- A play is under review as the puck is in the net thanks to Gaustad’s stubbornness well before the whistle blows. The ref is taking his sweet time on the phone, which makes me wonder if he’s talking to the home office or ordering a pizza for after the game. It’s ruled a goal after the ridiculously long review, so HONHONKHONK for the Goose. 3-0, Sabres.

- Have I mentioned how much I love the Goooooooooooooooose chant after he scores a goal or whomps on someone?

- Who developed the schedule this year? The Sabres have already played 3 of their 4 games against the Islanders and by the end of the month they will have played 3 of 4 against the Flyers. Also, who is the genius that decided that the game on the day after Thanksgiving should be played at 1pm in the afternoon?

- The final 15 seconds feature Kaleta being a pest and half the Islanders on the ice chasing him around.

- RJ and Harry are getting slightly loopy and referring to the runway portion of the Catwalk for Charity as “walking the plank.” RJ informs us all that he would like to be referred to as a buccaneer and not a pirate or a privateer.

- The game is over, so I can say it now….SHUTOUT! I love when Miller gets a shutout. It’s such a confidence booster.

- Random YouTube for the end of the game…

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Since When…

May 9, 2009

- When did Hamilton become the latest new place to move a hockey team to? Couple years ago, the Predators were all but packed and on their way. Now, Balsillie wants to move the Coyotes there and a group out of Vancouver wants to move the Thrashers to H-town. There’s no way in hell that Bettman lets either team move. He’s bound and determined that hockey remain ensconced in the southern part of the US. It would be admitting failure if he let a team leave the south. The recent success of the Caps and Hurricanes is proving that hockey can succeed south of the Mason Dixon line. But then again, for every Washington and Carolina, you have an Atlanta or a Florida. It’s not good for the league as a whole when reports constantly surface that rich people want to move less successful teams to any area that waves a bright and shiny arena at them. (And that’s not even taking into account the rumors of Wang moving the Islanders to Kansas City if he doesn’t get his new arena on Long Island.)

- The photo accompanying TSN’s article about Gonchar’s injury is absolutely stunning. It completely shows the pain, anguish and heartbreak running through Gonchar as the trainer tends to him. I’m constantly in awe of the high quality of photos put out by NHL related photographers.

- Puck Daddy has a scathing indictment from Gonchar’s agent of the double standard potentially exhibited by the league in regards to the Gonchar/Ovechkin contact. Good read, as JP Barry has the balls to actually say what a lot of us have thought occasionally regarding the behavior of Crosby, Ovechkin and other “stars.”

- I’ve had Indy 500 qualifying on in the background while doing some work for a presentation, and the network is doing a pretty good job of promoting its hockey schedule. However, I do want to give Indy announcer Bob Jenkins a brief  pronunciation guide to the word “Canucks.” It’s pronounced “Ca-Nucks.” Not “Ca-Nooks.” Please work on this before I throw something at my TV set.

- We know that the NHL is one of the more savvier leagues when it comes to the use of the internet and electronic communications. However, I bet most of us had no idea just how in-depth the NHL’s email efforts are. Mediapost reports that the NHL has an email database of nearly 1 million names and sends 62 e-newsletter versions per week. That’s pretty darn impressive, but the media geek in me wishes there were some stats in there like open rates and click throughs.

- While poking around on the internets, I discovered that Derek Roy was a participant in Buffalo Spree’s bachelor auction that was held in February. I’m dying to know just how much our little Roy-Z was auctioned off for.

- And speaking of Roy-Z, here’s wishing him and Lindy the best of luck in the Gold Medal game at the World Championships. And best of luck to Stafford and Team USA in the bronze medal game. I just hope that when they come back to town, they don’t show off their medals in the locker room. Otherwise, they may have to keep sharp implements away from Vanek. Dude sounds extremely down about what happened at the WC’s, that it was just the icing on the crappy cake that was his past season.

- I really kind of want this USA Hockey T-Shirt.

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