Archive for October, 2008


Thoughts On Last Night’s Debacle

October 31, 2008

– I really liked this Pat Kaleta feature on TSN. I think the stat at the end is particularly revealing: that in one-third of the dustups that Kaleta has been in since junior hockey, the opposition player got the instigator penalty. What’s also telling is that 11% of the time, Kaleta received no penalty at all.

– I really, really, really cannot stand the “hot girls…on skates” commercial for Labatt Blue. At least the talking fish and deer were entertaining!

– Number of times I fired Miller during the game: 3.

– Number of times I re-hired Miller: 2.

Once was after the intermission feature where I saw that he donated the tickets for a suite to Carly’s Club and once was after his postgame interview where he admitted that staying in the game and working out the kinks in his game was preferrable to smashing a stick against a concrete wall. (And in the long run, it probably would have been cheaper, too. I can imagine that goalie sticks are pretty expensive.)

– Also fired during the game was Staffy, for that ridiculous giveaway leading to a Tampa goal. However, he was re-hired on a probationary basis after that quick thinking backcheck in the Buffalo zone after Lydman fell down at the other blue line.

– I’m glad to see Clarke MacArthur making a case for staying in Buffalo, rather than getting sent to Portland via the waver wire. The kid has a pretty consistent scoring touch. Five goals on this team is good, considering players like Roy and Pommers are having difficulty finding the back of the net.

– Number of times Pommer mentioned “the system” or “getting away from the system” during his postgame interview: 2.

– Number of times Roby utlitized Gaustad’s first period forecheck as an example of what the team should be doing, but didn’t: approximately 37.

– And this has nothing to do with hockey, but I’m extremely upset at the powers that be over at ER. I watched ER last night because Shane West was returning (mmmmmm) and while the boy did look good, I’m not happy how they ended things between Ray and Neela. And how good Shane West looked is how horrible John Stamos looked. Seriously, dude was looking rough.


Never a Dull Moment In Sabreland

October 29, 2008

– Goose is back! Celebratory honks all the way around. He seems ready and raring to go, if his interview on is any indication. He can pretty much do everything on the ice, except take his glove off. The cast that he’s still wearing kind of prohibits that. He’s not sure what line he’s going to be playing on, but he was practicing with Kaleta and Peters. That’s….an interesting combination to say the least. On the positive side at least, it means that there’s the potential to have another warm body (besides Vanek) to stand in front of the net on the power play. And holy heck Adam Begnini, could you ask any more questions of Goose? Let some of the rest of the reporters have a turn!

– I loved Adam Mair’s comments regarding his little dustup after Monday night’s game. He did a nice job of diffusing the tension in the situation. Then again, he really can’t come out and say that Ruutu and Neil are bleepin’ arseholes, now can he? I mean, he could, but Colin Campbell probably wouldn’t appreciate it too much.

Props though, to Greg W. for finding this awesome picture of Mair to include in his writeup of the situation.

– Today’s Buffalo News contains a great article about what exactly the World Junior Championships mean to the players involved with them. You can really tell that these guys were honored (and still are honored) to have been selected to play for their country, and for the lot of them, only a Cup win would top success in the WJCs.

– Ryan Miller and Santa are going to help open Rotary Rink in Fountain Plaza in a couple of weeks. After the rink is open and the Christmas Tree lit, he will be participating in a meet-and-greet with members of the Rockettes, who are in town for their performance of the Radio City Christmas Show. The first time I read the article, I was skimming it quickly and thought that it said he would be performing with the Rockettes. While that could be great fun, we don’t need the poor dear pulling a groin trying to do a high kick in the kickline.

– Brian Burke shares a little bit about the Team USA 2010 selection process. Burke and his four assistant GM’s are playing with preliminary rosters right now. If a guy shows up on all five faux rosters, there’s a good shot that he would make the team. Other than that, they plan to have a selection camp sometime in the summer of 2009, where 30-35 guys would compete to make the squad. They’re shooting for a younger, rougher, tumbler team than what Team USA has put forth in the past. What exactly does this have to do with the Sabres? Well, Ryan Miller is currently leading the fan poll (objective, I know) to be the team’s starting goalie. Then again, when you’re other choices are Pretty Ricky and Tim Thomas, its a no brainer.

– From the “do not watch if you are squeamish or eating dinner” category, a wide receiver for Houston (college) broke his leg while colliding with a band cart parked outside the endzone.

The human body is not supposed to bend that way! I hurt just watching that clip.


Building a Brand

October 28, 2008

The October 10th edition of Business First featured a cover story on Ryan Miller. (I would link the article here, but the Business First people require payment to access entire articles from their print edition. I love my readers, but I’m a cheapskate, so I’m writing this entry based off of the printed edition that I borrowed from the community chest at work. If you’re interested in reading the article in the print edition, check out your local library and their databases. Libraries are good for things like that. That now ends my PSA for libraries.)

Anyway, the article takes a look at Miller’s growing popularity in the Western New York area. While it’s no surprise that he’s revealed to be one of the most in-demand athletes for PR-type functions, it did shed some new light on just how popular he actually is.

I thought the most interesting question posed by the writer was whether Miller would ever surpass Jim Kelly on the mythical Buffalo athlete popularity scale. While Miller was kind of embarrassed to even be asked the question, and claimed that he’s not wanting to lay claim to the Kelly throne, his teammates (well, Roy and Kaleta at least), think that Miller could easily overtake Kelly’s role. Kelly is still popular around here, as evidenced by his recent appearances in State Senator Stachowski’s campaign ads, but I think Miller could very easily become Buffalo’s most popular athlete ever, especially if he were to lead a Sabres team to a Stanley Cup at some point during his career.

The author also shed some light on why we don’t see Miller appearing in a ton of outside commercials or doing more product endorsements. Miller is exceedingly careful about appearing in commercials for profit, preferring instead to film commercials in support of either the Steadfast Foundation or another charitable endeavor. (To date, the Foundation has already raised $50,000 for Carly’s Club, and that’s just from two rounds of the infamous Catwalk for Charity.)  What’s awesome is that Miller is clearly conscious that by turning down these endorsements, he’s leaving money on the table. And it doesn’t seem to bother him. Contrast that with some athletes who will clearly endorse anything, as we saw last season with Soupy and the Center for Excessive Sweating. Yeah, that was a brilliant endorsement that became a joke after awhile. Someone clearly didn’t think that one through too well.

I do give Miller a ton of credit for being so in control of how he’s portraying not only “himself”, but also himself.  He clearly recognizes that he’s a representative of the Sabres and his Foundation and doesn’t want to do anything to jeopardize that. And yet at the same time, he realizes that he needs to make time for himself and have a private life outside of the game and the off-ice stuff. He’s admitted that he’s become a couch potato with his guitar lately and is learning to take more time for himself to relax and chill.

And the article also contained today’s fun and random fact. Did anyone else know that Miller has his own steak named after him at the new Hyde Park Steakhouse that opened up outside the Galleria? The “Steak Miller” is a rib eye with chili lime rub and an Argentinean chimmichurri. The steak and rub sound yummy, but I’m not sure about the chimmichurri that accompanies it.

And if you’ll excuse me, I’m now off to indulge my inner 5-year-old and watch “Its the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown.”


The Kids Are Coming!

October 27, 2008

I think I’ve been priced out of the tickets for the World Junior Championships. $40 per ticket for the upper bowl is just a smidgen out of my price range. Added into the fact that a good chunk of the tournament is going to be played after my Christmas work shutdown is over means that I’ll be a couch potato for this tournament. If Time Warner were smart, they would pick up the TSN feed of the tournament. Ratings would be through the roof in the Buffalo area. (Of course, by that point we could already have TSN on our cable systems, so that wish could be a moot point.)

I wonder if this means that the Sabres are going to be exiled to the road for two weeks, or will they be able to play the occasional home game on an off night during the tournament?

These championships are going to be huge for the City of Buffalo. Not only will the economic impact be huge, but this is Buffalo’s chance to shine on the world stage. (I may also fall over if LQ’s pronunciations of stores being open on the waterfront by the time the tourney rolls around come true.) We’re going to put on one hell of a show, showing that Buffalo really is the City of Good Neighbors, and one heck of a hockey town.

Here’s a pretty neat video recapping the USA’s first and only gold medal win in the WJCs (2004…yes that is Stafford you see and hear zooming around there.)

The thing that always gets me about the WJCs is the wide range of emotions at the end of the gold medal game. The winning team is jumping around like a bunch of lunatics, while the losing team looks like they’re going to be taken out back and shot when they get home. I also like the complete joy that the winning team shows while singing their national anthem during the victory celebration. Those guys are just singing their fool hearts out and its beautiful


Rocky Mountain High…Kind Of

October 26, 2008

– I can’t complain about the Sabres start to the season. While it would be nice if they could finish a game off in regulation time, I really can’t quibble over the fact that they have earned a point in every single game that they have played so far. 8 games and 14 points is nothing to sneeze at. That puts them at #2 in the league behind the Rangers. While I’m sure I’ll be swearing at the boys during January and February, I’m just content now to sit back and watch things develop.

– I do think Ryan Smyth was effective at throwing Miller off his game, leading to the Avs goal in regulation. Miller was in quite the snit during the game, and it looks like the snit continued after the game, if his postgame comments were any indication.

When he comes by and twists me out of position … tipped puck or whatever, that’s a slow-moving puck that I would have reached if I’d been set. I have no idea why he’s allowed to do it. I had the ice. I was there first. Don’t touch me.”

I think this is where the team missed Rivet’s presence. We’ve all see him go after people who take liberties with Miller’s personal space. Last night could have used a little bit of that.

– I would not be surprised if Mike Weber was called up from Portland for tomorrow night’s game against Ottawa. The Sabres are already down to six defensemen, and losing Tallinder to a laceration didn’t help things last night. Even if Tallinder is cleared to go, I can really see the team having Weber on standby. And besides, the last time someone on the team had a “laceration,” that person missed the final two-and-a-half months of the regular season with a lacerated tendon.

And speaking of defensemen, I do think that Paetsch has played well these past two games. Not bad for a guy who’s main role this season is probably going to be a pressbox resident.

– Is anyone else mildly curious about the “interior decorating” that JM Liles helped Miller out with? Are these two closet HGTV fiends, discussing paint colors and hardware? Or are they just mucking around?

– I really liked Bucky’s latest column in today’s paper. I’m glad that Rivet is settling into Buffalo and realizing that there’s more to us than some boarded up old buildings and EB Green’s steakhouse. And is it me, or is Bucky trying to be more positive lately? I know the season is still young, and there’s plenty of criticism left to be wrote, but the amount of “up” writing so far this season is impressive.


Birthday Bits

October 24, 2008

– Add me to the list of people who thought that Miller scoring on his own net was probably one of the funniest moments of this young season (second funniest: Spacek saying the word “pigeon”). I think what made it so great was the fact that Miller was laughing about it and shaking his head before the puck dropped. It was like he realized that there was nothing he could do about it and decided to just roll with it.

And you know that not only is he probably getting shit from his teammates and coaches about it (including a threat by Lindy that the next time Miller scores means he buys the entire team dinner), but with being in Colorado tonight, he’s probably going to be getting shit in person from his BFF Jon-Michael Liles.

And on the plus side, the mouse potatoes of the world took Miller’s brain fart incredibly well. No one threw him too far under the bus.

– And “Birthday Claus” brought me the best birthday presents today. In addition to last night’s Sabres win, which was an early present in my eyes, I got tickets to the December 10th game against Tampa and a Gaustad t-shirt. Its a 3rd logo t-shirt with the retro letter and numbering on the back. Its very cool looking.


The Roy-Z Report

October 23, 2008

Derek Roy’s show on Kiss this morning was a mildly entertaining bit of Sabre-y goodness.

– Janet and Nick lightly grilled him on what the heck happened during the Bruins game the other night. Roy felt that coming back from the deficit builds character. Not that they want to come from behind every night, but they’ve learned something from it. Crikey, its only the fifth game and the guys are already breaking out the cliches. What are they going to do in January, when the cliche festival is supposed to be in full swing?

-The team sent Rivet milk and cookies to recuperate from his knee surgery. While I’m 99.9% sure that Roy was being sarcastic with his response, milk and cookies would be a really cool gift to send to someone that’s convalescing.

– In some shocking news, Roy-Z uses hair products. However, he does not have an endorsement deal. Ha! I could only imagine the ribbing he would get from his teammates if he got a deal from BedHead or Redken. That reminds me, I need more flat iron spray.

– He didn’t have a player jersey when he was a kid. Poor little Roy-Z.

– He was asked by a listener who the biggest womanizer on the team is. He plead the fifth on that one, but I’m sure that we all have our theories on who it could be. Janet and Nick let him off the hook by claiming that the biggest womanizer is Sabretooth. I’d probably agree with Janet and Nick, since how many hugs does Sabretooth give away to women during a hockey game.

– Roy-Z is practicing his drum playing. Janet and Nick are joking about getting him on stage at Kissmas Bash. Even seeing Roy on stage with someone would not make me pay good money to attend Kissmas Bash. I’ve heard way too many horror stories.

– He’s rooming with Sejkera on the road. Peters has been thrown overboard for the young guy. No word on whether the Gaustad and Pominville duo have been broken up.

I’ll have more tomorrow after the Sabres/Wild game. Hopefully, it won’t be a soul-killing, trap filled game.


Mouse Potatoes?

October 22, 2008

– Oh, Staffy, just when I was starting to like you again, you have to go and make a comment like this:

“This game is for all the mouse potatoes out there that don’t think we can stick with it in a 2-1 game and come back,” Stafford said. “It’s definitely a big win for the guys.”

The season is only five games in. I don’t recall reading recently a lot of negativity in the mouse potato world about the team and how they all suck and need to be thrown overboard for a team of skating catfish. That usually hits the internet around December, and the MSM around January. Is Staffy ahead of his time?

But this comment also brings up an intriguing question: is Staffy trolling teh internets trying to get a grasp at what the fans are saying about him? I recall one board recently did have a “Stafford: Player or Punk?” thread, so is this his way of shooting back at the fans? I know there’s inherent curiousity about what people are saying about you online (admit it, you’ve Googled yourself), but still, he’s throwing the internet fan community under the damn bus and we haven’t done anything to deserve it…yet.

Its fine that he has an opinion, but he just needs to be careful about how he expresses that opinion. Remember sunshine, us mouse potatoes pay good money to see you play and buy your merchandise. Don’t bite the hand that feeds you.

– Last night’s game with Boston was a soul killing affair for the first period-and-a-half. The only real saving grace for this time was the amazing play of Ryan Miller. He had some absolutely fantastic saves and really kept the game from becoming a rout. And, it also looks like we’re back to Original Recipe Miller in the shootout. Maybe last year’s flaky, flippy shootout Miller was just an abhorration?


Farewell, Old Friend

October 21, 2008

Today marked the last official time that Buffalo Memorial Auditorium would be opened to the public (well, the media and politicians at least) before its demolition next month. Its really sad to see what was such a great old building reduced to a vandalized mess of a shell. The sight of the crowd standing at what was center ice with the sun streaming down on them is a very haunting photograph.

Not that HSBC Arena isn’t a great building to watch a game in, but it lacks that character that the Aud had. I remember going to Sabres games as a kid, riding the train to the Aud with my parents, getting off right in front of the arena. I remember the walls of the lobby painted deep Sabre blue and gold with the marble floor and accents. The actual ticket turnstiles clicking as they recorded you entering the arena, the clicking sound mixing in with the din of the crowd and the program sellers grasping to gather people’s attention.

And c’mon, who can forget the Earl of Bud?

I remember seeing the “Niedermayer: Dead” sign for the first time in the Aud, and not really getting what it meant, wondering why someone wished ill on a hockey player. And since the Aud closed down 12 years ago, that should tell you just how long a blasted Neidermayer has been hanging around. (And yes, I did catch on to what Niedermayer: Dead sign referred to, in case you were wondering.)

A couple of really great galleries from today’s tour have been posted online.

This one is from The Buffalo News.

Yet another one is from Buffalo Rising, and is found on Flickr.

And of course, time for the gratuitous YouTube embeds. The first one is from the WGRZ News the night the Aud closed. Its a nice look back at the different NHL, soccer, lacrosse and basketball moments that happened at the Aud. Though I will warn you that you will be humming Simon and Garfunkel after watching the video.

This one was just linked by the boys over at Goose’s Roost a couple of weeks ago. Its the final part of the closing ceremony after the last Sabres game at the Aud. I’m just linking it because the final lap skate captures the history of the team, as well as the passion of the Buffalo fans. If you don’t have goosebumps listening to the “Let’s Go Buffalo” chant in the darkened arena, then you’re probably watching this dull as dishwater Sabres/Bruins game.


The Brotherhood of the Traveling Pigeon

October 20, 2008

– I am way, way, way too amused by the fact that the Sabres players are awarding a stuffed, mounted pigeon to the person they deem as being the best player in a specific game. It sounds like the players are really getting into it, going so far as to haul it around on the road in a little coop. I’d pay good money to see Crunchy or Spacek walking through the airport carrying the pigeon coop; but in reality, I know the equipment staff is probably carrying it around for the players.

– And yet surprisingly, that wasn’t the most ridiculous story of the day. I think Puck Daddy’s post about Mike Commodore’s Facebook photo takes the cake. Seriously, Commodore is making Brian Campbell’s Expletive Deleted Stupid Ice Bowl faux pas look really, really minor. I think the League’s PR divas (and divos) might be giving some talking tos to their players in the next couple of days.

– Even though it probably has a snowball’s chance in hell of happening, how cool would it be to have Lindy behind the bench for Team Canada in 2010?