With the financial controversy and uncertainty swirling around the ownership of the Buffalo Sabres, it has become difficult to focus on little else beyond whether or not the team will remain in Buffalo beyond next season.
The day-to-day workings of the team apparently have not been disrupted to this point, if the recent signings of two 2000 draftees is any indication. The Sabres signed Paul Gaustad, a big, gritty player with leadership ability who can play both center and left wing, as well as tough guy Sean McMorrow, a player considered by some to be the best fighter in the OHL, if not all of the CHL.
This renewal of talent in the system is a necessity for a small market team such as the Sabres. The means of acquiring this young talent, the NHL Entry Draft, is perhaps the single most important event for the Sabres organization, mainly because it will determine the future success (or failure) of the club.
While the Sabres did manage to sign two lower round draft picks at this year’s signing deadline, they have also experienced some significant non-signings in the recent past. Buffalo this year failed to sign their 2nd round pick from the 2000 Draft, defenseman Gerard Dicaire, which followed last year’s loss of ’99 1st rounder Barrett Heisten, as well as one of the the Sabres’ ’99 2nd round picks, center Mike Zigomanis. The losses of Heisten and Dicaire were due to an impasse in negotiations between the players and the team, while Zigomanis was lost due to the ineptitude of the hockey department Read more»
Like the proverbial avalanche (perhaps Colorado and Buffalo should swap nicknames) descending rapidly on the little village below, the financial woes of cable entertainment company Adelphia threaten both the existence of the NHL’s Buffalo Sabres, as well as the economic outlook of the already economically fragile Western New York region.
The Rigas family, who in recent days relinquished control of Adelphia, also have (or perhaps had) ownership of the Sabres. While there has been much speculation as to the ultimate fate of the team, some information that has come out in the past couple of days gives the impression that, at the very least, the near future for the Sabres could be somewhat rocky and unpleasant.
A story in the May 24th edition of the Buffalo News made reference to the team not meeting certain financial obligations during Adelphia’s ongoing fiscal crisis. No specifics were given as to what bills (or salaries) weren’t paid, but the fact that the team is having these kinds of problems does not bode well for the Sabres making any significant improvements to the Buffalo lineup for the 2002-03 season.
In addition to not improving the current Sabres’ squad, another problem arising from Adelphia’s fiscal woes has to do with the signing and development of draftees and prospects. The signing deadline for some of Buffalo’s 2000 draftees is approaching (June 1st), but the tightened purse strings that will surely result from this mess could affect which, if any, players are signed.
The prospectiv Read more»
Like the steel engines from which they take their nickname, the Yaroslavl Locomotive of the Russian Superleague rumbled over their playoff opponents to easily win the championship of the top Russian hockey league. The Locomotive accomplished the feat in the minimum number of games, going undefeated in the post-season (9-0).
Yaroslavl was the top team in Russia during the regular season, as well, so their playoff success was not a big surprise. During their run to the championship, the Locomotive scored 28 goals in 9 playoff games, while allowing just 9 goals against. The defeated opponents included the Soviet Wings, the Magnitogorsk Metallurgists, and Yaroslavl’s opponent in the finals, the Kazan Leopards.
While most hockey fans would likely recognize only one name from the Yaroslavl roster (Andrei Kovalenko), many Buffalo Sabres’ fans are fairly familiar with one of the younger players on the Locomotive, former 2000 1st round pick Artem Kriukov. Artem appeared in 5 of Yaroslavl’s 9 playoff games, registering 1 goal and 8 PIMs in those contests. Kriukov was a healthy scratch in the other 4 contests, with the Yaroslavl coaching staff favoring a more veteran lineup in games against tougher opponents.
After sitting out the opening round victory over the Soviet Wings, Artem had a solid series vs. Magnitogorsk. The high point of Kriukov’s post-season action came in the deciding game against the Metallurgist, where he scored his lone playoff goal, and earned the 3rd star award for his strong play througho Read more»
Inside of many hockey players is a frustrated golfer. Or you would think that based on the number of players who hit the links in their spare time.
In their first 25 years of existence, the Buffalo Sabres did their part to bolster the hockey-golf connection, with the team regularly scheduling tee times in mid-to-late April as a result of early elimination from the playoffs, or, less regularly, due simply to a failure to make the post-season party.
The Sabres of recent vintage have had a little less time to enjoy the great outdoors, given their extended playoff runs in 4 of the past 5 post-seasons. That run of good fortune will come to an end this year, however, as the club will find itself in the uncustomary position of missing the playoffs altogether. A late-season surge by the Sabres was simply not enough to overcome a season of mediocre (or worse) performances, with the team officially being eliminated in the final week of the 01-02 season.
Perhaps as a show of solidarity, the majority of Buffalo’s North American prospects have hung up their skates for the summer, as well. The golf courses of North America will seemingly be littered with hockey players and coaches who list the Sabres as their employer or affiliate.
For starters, the Sabres’ minor league club, the Rochester Americans, barely got their undergarments wet, as they q Read more»
Team toughness, or a lack thereof, seemingly has played a role in the Buffalo Sabres’ fall from playoff contention this season. A steady exodus of gritty players, including the likes of Mike Peca and Doug Gilmour, has left the Buffalo lineup a little short of the spirit and leadership necessary for success in the NHL.
While Buffalo may not have many prospects that have the combination of skill and grit found in players like Peca and Gilmour, they do have youngsters in the organization that could provide enough toughness to keep Buffalo’s opponents on edge in the years to come. One of those prospects, LW Andrew Peters, is currently filling the role of enforcer for the Rochester Americans of the AHL.
Peters was the first of three 2nd round picks the Sabres made in the ’98 NHL Draft, where he was drafted with the pick acquired in the deal that sent Pat Lafontaine to the New York Rangers. Andrew spent most of his junior career with the OHL’s Oshawa Generals, but was moved to the Kitchener Rangers during his final junior season following a dispute with then-Oshawa coach George Burnett.
Peters’ main claim to fame in juniors was his fighting ability, as he amassed 452 penalty minutes in his 3-year OHL career. Andrew also showed flashes of skill during his draft year, but that part of his game has gone largely unfulfilled since that time. The St. Catherines native saw limited ice time during his first season with Rochester, but has steadily played a larger role this season, flashing the pugilistic skills that Read more»