The Buffalo Sabres are on the brink of becoming NHL champions, but it’s not time to celebrate just yet. Despite recent success, there is still much work left to be done before these players can truly call themselves Stanley Cup Champions.
Last week’s transfer of Buffalo Sabres forward Jack Eichel to the Vegas Golden Knights not only ended the NHL’s most heated standoff, but it also signaled the end of an era.
For the opportunity to choose Jack Eichel in 2015, the Sabres basically wrecked themselves. (Or Connor McDavid… no offense to consolation prize winners.) They signed him to a $80 million contract extension in 2017 to be the franchise’s focal point, the galaxy’s center star. He was the player who would lead the Sabres to tremendous success, maybe even the team’s first Stanley Cup in 51 seasons.
They built around him for six seasons, and throughout that time, the Sabres were horrible, finishing an average of 24 points off of a playoff berth.
Eichel was forced to leave Buffalo due to his lack of success. When the team and the player couldn’t agree on how to properly treat his damaged neck, Eichel’s “ask” became a demand, a shattered relationship became unsalvageable, and Eichel was greeted in Las Vegas by a phalanx of showgirls, while the Sabres’ world was abruptly extinguished.
Watching Buffalo general manager Kevyn Adams attempt to sell optimism in his post-trade news conference was like listening to someone try to whisper a sonnet during a Mastodon concert — no one could hear anything except the deafening boom of Jack Eichel’s departure.
However, Adams is upbeat. Despite the fact that the club has had more general managers (four) than playoff games (zero) in the previous ten years, he believes Buffalo fans should be as well.
The weird aspect is that I believe he is correct.
The Sabres will be OK without Eichel. Perhaps better than OK. Maybe it’ll be fantastic one day.
When I talked with Adams on Tuesday, I asked him a hypothetical question: What if a Sabres fan — one of the hard cores, the ones who wear those Rob Ray Buffalo head shirts to games — approached him in the concourse and asked him how far away they are from contending?
“There are some true pluses, in my opinion. It might be difficult to perceive progress on a daily basis. However, if you take a step back and contemplate a little more, it may be a little simpler to realize that “According to the general manager.
He mentioned 24-year-old forwards Rasmus Asplund and Tage Thompson, as well as Casey Mittelstadt, who is now injured, and defender Henri Jokiharju, who are all on the roster.
“As a company, we’re in a position right now where we have to develop our players,” he stated. “We need to develop them in Buffalo and Rochester [in the AHL], as well as the ones we just picked, in order to identify this core and go ahead. It’s heading in the correct direction, which is wonderful. That is something I would discuss with that fan, in my opinion.”
Under owner Terry Pegula, Buffalo supporters have become used to the franchise’s rapid shifts, with the team bouncing from one rebuild to the next with the dexterity of a frozen puck. None have been more incisive than this one.
Just don’t refer to it as a “rebuild.” Adams despises the phrase. “Build” is one of his favorite words. As per his request, call it a “build.”
“That term is really essential because we’re not attempting to push anything,” he said. “It’s all about progress. The lesson to the players, in my opinion, is to be responsible every day, both on and off the ice. Every day, work on improving yourself, and success will take care of itself.”
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The entire “find local talent” thing is an NHL myth, whether it’s the Montreal Canadiens embracing the acquisition of French-Canadian players like it’s their destiny or the Wild picking “Mr. Hockey Minnesota” in Jack Peart last summer. Adams, on the other hand, remarked that having such dedication to the city and club was vital to him as a player, and he manages in the same way.
“When you dedicate all you have to that organization and that city, it becomes very strong,” he said. “And from where I sit, performing this job, I can see what the community wants. I’m familiar with our supporters’ DNA. The city’s devotion for this club and the squad’s affection for the city. That is something we must gain. Every day, I tell the guys that.”
Adams is extremely frank about his fan credentials, something he and Pegula have in common. As a boy growing up in Clarence, New York, Adams sat in the orange seats at The Aud with his father. He’s experienced the bond between fan and team before, and he’s eager to experience it again.
Andrew Peters believes he will.
Peters spent five seasons in Buffalo, including the legendary “what if?” 2005-06 season, when the Sabres were a few healthy defenders away from perhaps going all the way in a conference final Game 7. He and Craig Rivet co-host the famous “After The Whistle” podcast, and he’s excited to see the series and its fans rekindle their friendship.
“It’s a bummer for the fans because I was here when the team was very excellent, and I know what they want and deserve,” he said. “Year after year, this event has been royally botched up. This is my favorite city in the world. These are my favorite fans. I’m hoping they get it right this time.
“Is there any reason to be optimistic, though? Right now, no “Peters went on. “I mean, there’s optimism about how the team is playing, but not about how long it will take to go to the next level. Kevyn owns all of these parts, but they’re worthless right now. I’m not sure whether [the Eichel trade] pushes them farther behind or keeps them on track. However, if they have nine parts, at least six of them must work.”
In a young league, Peters believes they are “three years away from being extremely excellent.”
Hey, that’s a positive attitude!
“Is that correct? I was under the impression that I was being a jerk “he said
It’s optimistic when a team’s previous playoff participation came a month before “The Hangover Part II” was released in cinemas.
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“Our supporters understand, but they’re curious as to why. And I see why I have to explain it “he said “We aren’t going to make these judgments one day. We’ve devised a strategy. We have a clear picture of what we want to achieve and how we want to accomplish it. Everyone wants to be successful right away. We’re all guilty of it. However, we are unable to reach an agreement. In the near term, we can’t be emotional or reactionary.”
We probably wouldn’t have seen a Jack Eichel deal until November if Kevyn Adams and the Buffalo Sabres were emotional or reacting in the near term.
Adams laughed and remarked, “That’s probably fair.” “You make an excellent argument.”
General managers are typically bound to the stars they trade, particularly when those stars shine brighter in their new home. Because O’Reilly made a bad deal worse by winning the Conn Smythe the following season with the St. Louis Blues, Jason Botterill is known as the “Sabres GM who traded Ryan O’Reilly.”
Adams will always be remembered as the general manager of the Sabres who dealt Jack Eichel. There’s a good possibility he’ll help the Knights win the Stanley Cup for the first time before any Sabres player takes a drink from the Chalice.
Fans of the Sabres will be rooting for him. And there are Sabres supporters who really hope that Adams’ “build” is so perfect that Eichel regrets not being a part of it.
“The fans are split 50/50,” Peters stated. “I think if you organized a parade out of town for Eichel and invited everyone from Western New York to it, half of them would be holding up their jerseys and the other half would be throwing him the finger.”
Fouls in Jersey
“Mighty Ducks: Game Changers,” a Disney+ original series:
@wyshynski Please resolve a quarrel between myself and a pal… Kenny Woo wears a District 5 Ducks jersey in the #MightyDucksGameChangers. Is it a foul in Jersey? (Or, as it were, fowl?) pic.twitter.com/mThTB9Nakx
November 10, 2021 — jim (@thepowernerd)
This is a great capture. The sweater worn by Kenny Wu is a breach of the “Temporal Correctness” Jersey Foul regulation, which states that a player’s name and number may only appear on the jersey they wore while on the team. (The only exception is if the player’s number is retired, in which case it may be passed down via generations of sweaters.) Kenny Wu was not a member of The Mighty Ducks when they wore these District 5 jerseys in the first film of the series. He featured in “D2” when they represented the United States internationally, as well as “D3” when they wore jerseys inspired by their NHL namesake. This is, therefore, a Foul. Tell your pal to have a good time.
Three observations about future Hall of Famers
1. With the Hockey Hall of Fame induction ceremony set for Monday night, it’s time to focus on the Class of 2022. Roberto Luongo is one of the candidates. Henrik and Daniel Sedin are as well. Henrik Zetterberg is playing in his first season of eligibility. Rick Nash is in the same boat.
On Tuesday, we’ll talk about the probabilities for their possible introduction, but for now, let me reaffirm my favorite scenario for maximum chaos: Brian Burke, a member of the Hall of Fame committee, nominates Henrik, no one nominates Daniel, and we end up with one twin as a first-ballot Hall of Famer and the other twin attending his ceremony as a guest. In Swedish, how do you pronounce “cringe”?
2. Another Hall of Fame induction, another year without a plaque for Alex Mogilny. Let’s simply keep repeating it till it becomes a reality: Mogilny’s 0.478 goals-per-game average is higher than the 473 goals scored by this year’s choices, Jarome Iginla (0.402) and Marian Hossa (0.401). His average of 1.04 points per game is higher than that of nearly 30 Hall of Fame forwards. He is one of just 29 players in NHL history to win a Stanley Cup, an Olympic gold medal, and an IIHF world championship. And, of course, as a 20-year-old, he was the first player from the Soviet Union to defect to the United States.
2005-06 was his last season. It’s past time for this icon to be inducted into the Hall of Fame.
3. On The Athletic, my buddy Sean McIndoe gave a dissection of several current probable Hall of Famers. Brad Marchand of the Boston Bruins is one of them, and I’ve been promoting his candidacy for years. At 33 years old, he already has 730 points, so earning 1,000 points isn’t out of the question. He’s the best left winger not named Alex Ovechkin in the recent decade. Since the 2014-15 season, he’s ranked fourth in points (544). He’d probably have a Selke Trophy by now if it weren’t for playing in Patrice Bergeron’s shadow — well, and not being a center — for the awards validation component.
Most importantly, he satisfies the “famous” component, which, to be honest, the selection committee should place a higher emphasis on. It’s literally in the name of the establishment. Brad Marchand is a member of the Hockey Hall of Fame. It’s possible.
The Week’s Winners and Losers
Fan Support is the winner.
Thank you to all of the Pittsburgh fans that came out to support the girl who plays goaltender for the Mars Hockey Club men’s team on Oct. 28, who was subjected to obscene and disgusting shouts from the Armstrong student section. “We admire how our goaltender has conducted herself and how she has refused to allow any of the recent events keep her off the court,” the club stated.
Shirts are the loser.
I’ve had to show my support for the team photo. twitter.com/rOVum60v3i
November 10, 2021 — Greg Wyshynski (@wyshynski)
Never before has a win against the Florida Panthers by the New Jersey Devils in early November generated such… creativity.
Social media sarcasm is the winner.
November 9, 2021 — Holden Goraczkowski (@HoldenKnights)
Since the Los Angeles Kings originated the trend some years ago, sassy team social media streams have been all the rage. The AHL’s Utica Comets stepped up their game by teasing Montreal Canadiens youngster Cole Caufield, the Calder Trophy favorite who was sent to the minors following a poor start to the season.
Caufield’s father gave an interview about “bullying” and Caufield himself did the “I’m not furious, but they should behave like human beings and never do it again” thing after this since-deleted tweet that labeled him invisible. What more could a Twitter troll possibly want?
Mentions as a loser
After all of that, did they really need to tweet at Caufield? Granted, his Twitter page is primarily Wisconsin Hockey retweets, but if he’s an active user, there’s no need to send the flying monkeys his way. Next time, make an indirect parody. I’ve learnt my lesson.
Fixing 5-on-3 power plays is the winner.
The poor man is still on the lookout for the puck photo. twitter.com/0vUHd3FfuK
November 11, 2021 — Dimitri Filipovic (@DimFilipovic)
On a 5-on-3 power play against the Arizona Coyotes on Wednesday night, the Minnesota Wild did what every team should do when they have a two-man advantage: they ran the puck from behind the opponents’ goal. Look at Mats Zuccarello and Kirill Kaprizov, who are confusing the penalty kill with their catch. This could be you, or one of the other 31 teams!
Seattle’s power play has to be fixed, according to the loser.
For a variety of reasons, including goaltending, the Seattle Kraken sit bottom in the Pacific Division, but they’ve scored two or less goals in seven of their 13 games. One reason is that they have the poorest power play in the NHL, with a 9.5 percent success rate. In 13 games, Seattle is 4-for-42 on the season. (Incredibly, the Coyotes and the Vegas Golden Knights each have three power-play goals this season, albeit in considerably less chances.)
NHL hotline is the winner.
Since it was revealed in the aftermath of former Calgary coach Bill Peters’ dismissal in 2019, the NHL’s tip line has been mocked by the media and fans. However, the league claims that it was the hotline that prompted the Anaheim Ducks’ internal inquiry, which resulted in general manager Bob Murray’s departure.
There’s a lot of work to be done, and the “hotline” isn’t going to solve everything. But give credit where credit is due: The Ducks were forced to clean up a “abusive culture” in their front office after the NHL sent a memo to teams in late October following the Chicago Blackhawks scandal that urged reporting of managerial abuse. This tip-line, combined with the NHL’s memo, compelled the Ducks to clean up a “abusive culture” in their front office.
Reputations are a loser.
When the Ducks revealed Murray was on administrative leave, I contacted a dozen people. Almost everyone stated something along the lines of “this is no surprise” or “it was destined to happen.” Not because they were aware of any triggering event, but because of Murray’s long history of abusive behavior. The fact that they believed this scenario was so foreseeable was predictable in and of itself, since there are known abusive persons still working in hockey — albeit this seems to be changing.
As for Murray, let’s hope he receives the assistance and treatment he needs for his alcoholism. He said, “I commit to make changes in my life, beginning with enrolling in a treatment program.”
Alex Ovechkin, the delivery guy, was the winner.
Here’s the image I should’ve used instead… pic.twitter.com/gmJMPNu3cl
November 10, 2021 — Tarik El-Bashir (@Tarik ElBashir)
On Wednesday, Alex Ovechkin brought two boxes of pizza to the Capitals’ practice facility’s media room, claiming that “when you’re hungry, you’re hungry.”
I wasn’t there, so the pizza was free.
Headlines from the Puck
From your ESPN buddies
Kristen Shilton has written an excellent post on goaltender tandems and how they work, with an emphasis on the Florida Panthers.