Thursday, August 28, 2008

Stu Barnes has Officially Retired

Barnes, a definite fan favorite for Sabres fans in the late 90's, has officially announced his retirement from the NHL. He will now step behind the bench for the Stars as an assistant coach.

Not following the Sabres all that much in the 90's, I didnt really get to appreciate all that Barnes brought to those Sabres teams. But he always was a class act in the community and on the ice. He was one of the major fan favorites and immortalized by RJ with his STUUUUUUUUUUUUUU calls.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

The Legacy May Come to an End

Derek over at 3rd Man In reminded me of something that is somewhat upsetting to think about. This is the final year of Rick Jeanneret's contract which signals a possible end to the legacy known as RJ. This also means that the position has to be filled. But the main question is who?

Replacement 1 would be Kevin Sylvester which probably does not please many Sabres fans. Sylvester tried his hand at the play-by-play position last season as a replacement for RJ while he went on vacation. While he started rather rocky trying to emulate someone who he wasn't, he finally grew into the role in the second game. This leads to a situation in the studio crew with the void that would have to be filled.

Replacement 2 is sort of a wild card. Mark Jeanneret is the play-by-play guy for the Erie Otters. He may be a better replacement of sorts for RJ because of the similarities in their voices. Mark sounds a lot like his father when he started so it would feel more like a blast from the past for Sabres fans.

The other question for the organization is whether or not to have a seperate radio crew. The Sabres are one of the few teams that have only one crew for television and radio mainly for the legacy of Jeanneret. With the retirement of RJ they may be a need for two seperate crews.

Friday, August 22, 2008

5 Ways I'd Change the NHL

Greg Wyshynski over at Yahoo has started a series in August where he has asked a bunch of prominent people how they would change the NHL. Piggy backing off that idea, I figured I would throw my two cents into the ring.

1. Eliminate the overtime point. The NHL is the only league with an overtime point. This point made sense when games were ending in ties because each team got a point. Now, with the addition of the shootout and the lack of ties, we reward losing as long as the team fought a good fight. This point muddles the standings and makes games relatively uninteresting when it comes down to the last five minutes of a game. With both teams playing defensive to try an save a point, the game just starts to be a waiting game rather than an actual game. Also, it does not help fans analyze playoff scenarios with the complication of that extra point.

2. Don't change the number of teams. Many people have talked about adding a few teams in the past few years and others have talked about getting rid of the struggling ones. The league has a good number of teams in it. It can't expand right now because the talent just is not there for it. Most teams would have a full line of AHL'ers as their fourth line if the league expanded by two. Contraction won't work for the league either because it looks terrible. Only starting franchises have to contract teams and start dispersal drafts not established ones. The league may be able to expand if the talent pool started to grow some more and every team was making a good profit. Until that point, there is no need to add more teams into the mix.

3. Eliminate the instigator and puck over the glass rules. These two rule changes were implemented after the lockout to try and open the game up some more. In the case of the instigator rule, it was to curb the amount of fighting in the league and the delay of game caused by a player sending the puck over the glass was to decrease stoppages. Both are useless. In the case of the instigator rule, it has created more low brow shots by players knowing that they would not have to own up to their actions. This creates another paradox in that now cheap shots lead to other cheap shots, not fights, creating more injuries and putting players in greater harm than they would be if there was a fight. With the delay of game the league believes that more people will watch a game if the score was higher. Therefore the tempo of the game needs to always continue and with a defender not being able to stop the play by sending the puck over the glass it would create more scoring chances. This never really happened. Most times the puck ends up over the glass on a careless play rather than an intentional one.

4. Cater to the serious fan instead of the casual fan. NASCAR may be falling into this problem as well. The NHL tries to expand its fan base by catering to the needs of the casual fan. They believe that a high-scoring game will draw in more fans because apparently all fans like to see scoring. What the league ignores is the fact that trying to cater to the casual fan alienates the serious fan or the original fan. The original fan knows how the game is played and likes to see a good game, whether the score is 2-1 or 6-5. Serious fans bring in the casual fan because of their fanaticism. Word of mouth in this case is the most powerful tool and if the more people feel alienated the less they speak highly of the league.

5. Fire Gary Bettman. Enough said.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Swarm Moving to the Western Conference

According to NLL Insider the Swarm are going to be heading to the Western Conference with the addition of the Boston Blazers. This makes the conferences look like this:

Eastern Conference: Boston, Buffalo, Chicago, Philadelphia, New York, Rochester, Toronto (7 teams)

Western Conference: Minnesota, Calgary, Edmonton, San Jose, Portland, Colorado (6 teams)

This makes absolute sense in the terms of the league. Minnesota is the western most team in the eastern conference. With the addition of the Blazers, there would have been 8 teams in the Eastern Conference and 5 in the Western. With the shift, there is now 7 and 6.

The Swarm will play a heavy Eastern Conference field to keep the rivalries that they have made including the Bandits.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

So I Havent Forgotten About the Blog

I just have been so busy in the last two weeks that I havent written anything in a while. And its not like there is a major rush of news in the month of August. The only major Sabres story is the addition of Teppo Numinen again this season. This was a good addition only if Teppo can give some leadership that this team lacked last season. With his experience in the defensive corps, it can only make players like Sekera, Weber, and Paestch a little bit better.

On the NLL front, the news is even slower. The only news semi related to the Bandits is that former Bandit Jason Crosbie has signed with the Toronto Rock. Not a major shift in the conference but could be a shooting factor on the notoriously defensive Rock.

Since the month of August is starting to wind down and that training camp starts in about a month, I will start to get more and more coverage of things to start to wet the appetite again.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Bandits Franchise Players

The Bandits have decided on their franchise players for this season. Pat McCready and John Tavares have both been franchised which means that they cannot be taken by any other team due to the fact they are free agents. On the flip side, for the players it means that they will be paid veterans maximum salary plus 25%.

The Coaching Carousel of the Pirates is Over

With the hiring of Kevin Dineen. After Randy Cunneyworth left the Rochester Americans and the Sabres organization for an assistant coaching position with the Atlanta Thrashers.

Dineen is staying in Portland after leaving the Anaheim Ducks organization after they moved their affiliation to Iowa. Dineen played in the NHL for 18 seasons with five teams; Hartford, Carolina, Philadelphia, Ottawa and Columbus. Playing in a total of 1188 games, he recorded 355 goals and 405 assists. Dineen then went into coaching and has been with the Pirates for the last two seasons. He won AHL Coach of the Year in 2006. He is also the son of Bill Dineen who coached the Philadelphia Flyers for two years and also won the AHL Coach of the Year honors in 1985 and 1986.

The Sabres also announced today that they signed a pair of free agents to bolster the roster in Portland. Colton Fretter who played in Bridgeport and Chicago had 15 points in 26 games in the AHL. Colin Murphy played with the Toronto Marlies and had 38 points and 152 PIM in 68 games last year.