Sabres fans are still sad to see Soupy go west to San Jose, but the guy we got in return had a decent start… TWO GOALS and an ASSIST in his first game! (He score the first two goals!) Ha!
Sabres fans are still sad to see Soupy go west to San Jose, but the guy we got in return had a decent start… TWO GOALS and an ASSIST in his first game! (He score the first two goals!) Ha!
Last year the Bills showed no hesitation whatsoever in delving into the free agent market. In fact, I believe they signed their first free agent at midnight of the first day. The other two free agents they inked were signed by noon the next day. At the latest. The Bills knew who they wanted, and they made sure they got them.
The offensive linemen signed turned out to be pretty productive for the Bills, but some still question the amount they were signed for. Giving up such large chunks of money for what many labeled “mediocre” linemen was not what Bills fans expected from their team who was sporting one of the largest salary cap margins going into the free agent season.
This year, I really have no idea what to expect. I have said on our show that I believe the Bills will pursue Ernest Wilford from the Jaguars. He’s a tall, strong, decent wide receiver who can help in the red zone as a possession guy. Another free agent I’d like to see the Bills pursue is Alge Crumpler, formerly starting TE for the Falcons. This guy was a pro bowler not too long ago, and with the Bills sorely lacking at the tight end position, seems like Crumpler could make an impact right away, which wis what you want from a free agent singing.
The Bills tend to build through the draft but I would expect them to go after the two players mentioned above, as well as perhaps a veteran DL, LB, and maybe even QB. (Depending on what they are trying to do with JP Losman.)
There are some current Bills players who might test the free agent market. Among the Bills with no contracts are Anthony Hargrove, Michael Gaines, Sam Aiken, Mario Haggan, Ryan Neufeld, Josh Stamer, and then restricted free agents Jim Leonhard and Jason Jefferson. Not a lot of big names. They will probably re-sign a lot of these guys. There are a few players who, due to injury, didn’t really get to play at all last season – which was their first as a Bill – including Jason Whittle, Jason Webster, and Al Wallace. The least likely to return might be Anthony Hargrove, due to his off-field issues.
It’s open season starting this Friday, February 29th! We’ll see who our new Bills will be.
It’s that time of year again, in fact this year it’s one week of craziness in my two favorite sports.
On the one hand, the NHL has set tomorrow at 3pm as the deadline to deal players. A couple trades have already occurred, more will come tomorrow. The NHL is pretty good at keeping things fresh, to be sure. People get caught up in the frenzy of the deadline as Sabres’ GM Darcy Regier says above.
The main name on the board for the Sabres is all-star defenseman Brian Campbell. (Note: had my sister have been a boy, that would have been her name!) Campbell is fantastic, and could be a foundational piece for the Sabres for years to come, but for some reason, they have not come to terms on an extension. He’s set to be a free agent come July 1st of this year, so the Sabres are certainly considering a trade in order to get something out of losing him (if he were to choose to leave).
On Friday, we have the other side of things. Free agency begins Friday Feb 29th for the NFL. That means players whose contracts have expired can shop around to the highest bidder. Last season the Bills knew exactly who they wanted, and they got them within half a day of the free agency period starting gun! Will that happen again? Not sure. We had some big name guys who were set to leave last year, not so much this year. And there aren’t a lot of big name players on the market who have generated the press you might expect leading up to such a deadline.
One deadline ends with a frenzy, the other begins with a frenzy. And all in one week!
So, stay tuned, I’ll probably have a report here, and definitely on my Buffalo Bills site.
Two nights ago we decided at the last moment to spend our evening celebrating Ian’s birthday (yes, he’s the Christmas boy…) at Chuck. E. Cheese. We have made a tradition of celebrating birthdays there (even mine!) and so though not actually on his birthday, we wanted to do the same for Ian. (As did he!) We planned a day in January, and invited our friends, the Vs. Problem was the day we picked was a super windy day… that knocked power out in some places, including the block where you find Chuck E. Cheese.
SO, about a month later, we packed up the van and headed out! Had a nice little dinner at Wendy’s first. Always a good time. (My favorite fast food place, I’d say…) and then we were ready for the real fun! We got to CEC and were grateful that they had power this time. A bit less grateful that there was a vacation week crowd (forgot about that…) but we figured out a good game plan (Dad took the girls, Mom went with the boys) and we headed out to have some fun!
After a little while of singing with Chuck E. in the other room, I decided to reunite with Mom and the boys. We made our way back and when we did, Jen had a surprise! An employee had approached her earlier and offered her FREE tickets to the Amerks game the next night! FREE??? Free. And not only that, they had a TON of them. So we could have as many as we wanted, and give them out to friends! We’re in!
We’d never actually gotten to go to an Amerks game. They are the local AHL team, affiliated with the Buffalo Sabres (at least for now they are) and for many years have been quite good. Most of the current Buffalo Sabres have come through Rochester. For whatever reason, we’ve tried, but never been successful at getting to a game. But now it looked like we were going to finally make it!
We left CEC with 18 tickets. There are only 6 of us that fill seats. And one of those doesn’t need a ticket. That means there were 13 available tickets!! We phoned a couple families we thought of first thing when we got home. (Yes… it was late.) The first were our friends, the Vs. It was Scott’s birthday that next day, so it seemed like a fun birthday thing to do! BUT, he was sick. As were a couple more in the V house. So, no go there. And in fact, no go with the other family I called that night. More sickness.
So the next morning we tried to think of some more people who might like to go. One friend was able to go. Steph was going to come with her three girls – not big time hockey fans, but Steph remembered going to games at her college. Next, we invited some friends from the other side of town who weren’t available, but they knew some people who were big Rochester sports fans… and perhaps we could give the tickets to them? Why not?! 🙂
Surprisingly, we have another friend whose birthday is February 20th, so I called him to see if he and his family would like to go. But, alas… they already had some family plans for the night… so no go there. Still had a few tickets to hand out… but running out of ideas for who could go.
Finally, I thought of my friend with whom I play basketball once a week. We haven’t gotten to spend a lot of time with their family, but I knew they sorta were into sports, and just might be able to go. They were! With our friend Steph bringing their 8-year-old neighbor, the tickets were now fully accounted for! 🙂
The adventure had only just begun however.
Just before we were to leave, Steph calls and says, “My van won’t start!” She said she’d keep trying and call us back. Well, she called back, but to tell us it just wouldn’t work. I said, “OK… no problem. But, just in case, I’ll bring the tickets with us, if you can get it started, and you’d still like to come!” She agreed, but it didn’t sound promising. So, that was too bad.
Add that to our lateness, and the night was not starting as I had hoped.
We got to my basketball friend’s house to begin our van caravan with them. They were just sitting in their driveway waiting for us… who were now at least 15 minutes late! Oh boy. They have been to the Blue Cross Arena before, so they led the way.
On our way, Steph calls and says, “I’m on my way! We got it started!” Ha! Perfect! Things were shaping up!
Just as we were getting to downtown Rochester, I remember that we were meeting our friends’ friends at the arena at 6:45 to get them their tickets. It’s well past seven at this point, so I checked our phone and sure enough there were two missed calls!
I called them back to reassure them that we were almost there. Left a message. I hoped they had stuck around.
We got to the parking garage and parked for four dollars! Great deal! Wasn’t expecting that cheap! Bonus! We quickly got out of our vehicles (the game had already started!) and briskly walked through the cold streets (around probably one big city block) to the place we were to meet our friends’ friends.
(Are you with me still?) 🙂
Finally got there and I recognized Shane from a previous meeting at Cross Creek a few months back. (That was a funny encounter. Not sure we had met before that. He saw our oldest son Ian wearing an Apple shirt, and some other distinguishing clothing that made him realize that Ian must be the son of Greg Campbell, whose blog he regularly reads.)
Yes, I’m famous. 🙂
So we all meet up there, and have a good laugh (at least I did!) at how little we all know each other. In fact, none of the others we invited had even heard the name of each other. They all had a connection with us, but to varying degrees. Pretty funny!
After hearing of this assortment of people who were joining us at the game, my basketball friend’s wife (who is not the most socially outgoing person you’ll ever meet) said of me, “They don’t come much friendlier than you, do they?” Guess she thought it was odd that I was giving tickets to a hockey game to people that I really didn’t know (Shane and his fam…) But I thought… why not? 🙂 Seemed like a fun plan to me!
And it was. We all finally got there, and watched a decent hockey game. There were plenty of snacks. Plenty of children! A little bit of hanging out with friends, meeting new friends, and watching some live hockey! Nothing like it! Love watching hockey in person. My boys were instant Amerks fans. Cheering and – as much as possible with many friends there – watching the game intently.
Sure hope we can go again!
The night ended with a pretty cool view of the lunar eclipse while we crossed over the rushing Genessee river which flows right by the side of the arena! Beautiful. Fun! Superb evening.
And all cause we went to Chuck E. Cheese at the last minute, on a whim!
Next whim that comes along will be taken more seriously… 🙂
For those of you who do not regularly follow along at my Buffalo Bills podcast website… I posted a few things there this week and just thought I’d link to them here. First I wrote an article responding to all the speculation about the Bills moving to Toronto. Then we did a special edition of the BBR where we talked about that and more.
Check it out if you are so inclined…
Emotions are all over the map in Western New York these days. A few are excited by the five-year plan that will have the Buffalo Bills playing three pre-season and five regular season games in Toronto, Canada. More seem to be near paranoid that this signals the end of the nearly fifty years of Bills football in Western New York.
And who can blame them? The Buffalo Bills message boards are replete with frustrated fans following not only each move of the plan named the “Toronto Initiative”, but all of the comments made by the aging Bills’ owner, Ralph Wilson.
“I can’t speculate what’s going to happen in the future. But don’t worry. Don’t worry right now,” Wilson said at last week’s press conference in Toronto. This comment, among others, (including Wilson referring to this “Initiative” as a “trial basis”) has led many Bills fans and media pundits to speculate on the Bills future.
With the end of the current 15-year lease of Ralph Wilson Stadium in Orchard Park, NY coinciding with the end of this “trial” in Toronto, there are many reasons to speculate that the team could well end up north of the Border by 2013. Or even sooner, if Wilson were to die before that time is up, as he has publicly stated that the team will be sold to the highest bidder following his death.
But a closer look at who is saying what reveals that there is much more to be hopeful about for Western New Yorkers. More positive than negative regarding this Toronto Initiative.
First there are comments from the Buffalo Bills themselves. Wilson has repeatedly said – including most of his comments from last week’s press conference – that his intention all along has been to keep this team in Buffalo. “We’ve always been on record saying we were going to try to regionalize our brand north of the border,” said Bills new Chief Operating Officer Russ Brandon. “We think this is another step in keeping our franchise financially viable in the Buffalo marketplace.”
The Bills have already begun to regionalize the team by moving their annual training camp to St. John Fisher College in Rochester, NY. This has been a big success according to the team. Toronto is merely the “next step” as Brandon says.
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell (a native Western New Yorker) was asked about the Toronto Initiative in a press conference and responded by saying the Bills “very thoughtfully” put this plan together, and carried it out. He has said the NFL is not looking to expand right now, and said the Bills would play a “limited number of games” in Toronto over the next five years. Granted, five years is a long way off, but his words have to be reassuring to Bills fans. (And it can’t hurt that he is a native of the area, and so, a Bills fan!)
Add to these voices the somewhat public rumors that former Bills Hall of Fame QB Jim Kelly has designs on buying the Bills when they become available. Kelly is rumored to be building a team of people – including perhaps former Buffalo Bills Thurman Thomas and Steve Tasker, among others – to purchase the Bills following Wilson’s passing.
Western New York billionaire, and current Buffalo Sabres’ owner, Tom Golisano is one potential investor in Jim Kelly’s plan. This past week Golisano was interviewed during a Sabres’ game and said, “If the situation arises, I would do what I can to try to keep the team in the area.” This again buoyed Buffalo fans hopes that this talk of losing the Buffalo Bills was just that. Talk.
In the end, Wilson is right, we can not know what will happen in the future. But it’s also true that worrying about the future doesn’t change anything either. Bills fans can worry that the team will move (I think that has been a fear of Bills fans since I moved to Buffalo back in 1986!) or listen to the voices of the people who really matter. Sports writers can say what they want, and fearful fans can say what they want, but the people who make the decisions are saying the Bills are staying in Western New York.
And, for now, that’s who I’m going to listen to.
Related Article: 10/25/07 (BBR)
I’m a little late to the party here, but I wanted to get some of my thoughts on the “cheating” scandal(s) that surround the New England Patriots.
News has surfaced that the Patriots may have video taped the St. Louis Rams’ walk-through practice the day before the Super Bowl in 2002. That was the one where the Pats managed to somehow upset the heavily favored Rams. The Rams offense was just sensational that season, and somehow, the Pats had the answer – enough to have a 14-3 halftime lead! It ended with the Pats kicking a FG to win it, and stun the world. Of course, then they went on to win two Super Bowls in the next three seasons.
But all this talk – and hard evidence – of the Patriots finding unethical, against-the-rules ways to get these wins, made me notice a couple things.
First, the Pats were 11-5 in that first Super Bowl season, finishing 14-5 with the stunning Super Bowl victory. Then, for some reason, they didn’t even make the playoffs the next year. They finished 9-7, in a three-way tie with the Jets and Dolphins. (Poor Bills…) 🙁 By a tie-breaker, they were excluded from the playoffs.
Perhaps they were trying to do it “by the book”? Well, that didn’t work.
So here are the following seasons’ results. (I’ll include those first two as well.)
Those are impressive win/loss totals. 100-29. Four Super Bowls. (But they did not win them all…) 😉 Could they all need to be followed with an asterisk? Should it read 100-29*?
Not sure yet. There is talk that a more thorough investigation could be coming. One run by the US and various state governments.
What will the NFL and the Patriots do then? The games have been played. Is an asterisk enough? Can they take the Lombardi Trophies away from the Pats? Can they give them to their unethically-beaten opponents? Do they want them? Then they would have a championship with an asterisk.
Not sure if fines, suspensions, or even jail time will befall the New England Patriots, but it could get pretty ugly over this off-season.
The last minute blemish to their perfect season (and the shenanigans that followed by Belichick, Brady, and Moss) might be only the very start of a long, dark off-season for the Patriots.
At least, not to me. And, I actually mean that more as a compliment than a slam. Let me explain.
When it comes to the playoffs, and especially the finals of most sports there is an intensity like no other time during the season. The players step it up, the fans step it up… the atmosphere and the play on the field, court, ice are electric. There’s a big difference for example between a regular season hockey game and a playoff hockey game of any level, let alone the Stanley Cup Finals or especially a Game Seven of the finals!
Other sports are the same way. Looks at the fantastic athletic event that is March Madness in college basketball. Play in the regular season may be exciting for die-hards, but come March, tiny schools who weren’t even on the national fan or media’s radar are suddenly playing like – and becoming? – champions.
There’s just a different level to the playoffs in most sports.
Except the NFL.
I don’t mean that as a knock on the NFL players, coaches, fans or anything. Again, it’s really more of a compliment. I don’t know if it’s because there are fewer games, or because of the sheer intensity of the sport, but I believe every NFL game offers the same level of competition, energy, atmosphere, and fun for the fan. Now, there are some that are a small step up. The Bills hosted their first Monday night game in over a decade this past season and their stadium was rockin’! Fans were totally pumped up. The team played out of their minds. But what for? Just a regular game.
This is my point. The NFL has the best overall product because every game can be – and usually is – as intense as if it were for the ultimate championship.
But then we have the Super (Hype) Bowl. Two weeks of incessant media hype, covering every story from every possible angle ad nauseam. We don’t watch much TV around here lately, so actually I haven’t been bombarded as much this year as past years. But it’s still there. I’ve caught the fringe stuff. And tonight there will be all the flashiness that the NFL wants to bring to their “showcase event”.
Does that make it better? Does that make it a more competitive game? Do we really need all that stuff?
In the end, I’ve already seen all the best games this season. (I could be surprised, but usually the Super Bowl does not live up to its hype…) The Patriots vs Dallas, Indy, and even Jacksonville in the playoffs. All the Bills games… 😉 And a handful of other very exciting competitions. Probably were better games than tonight’s game will be. At least they were better than some other Super Bowls I have seen.
So, I’ll stick with my vote for the NHL playoffs, March Madness, and maybe even a few others as being a bigger step up in the post season than the NFL offers. I’d rather watch most any NHL playoff series than the Super Bowl most year.
(Of course, it would help if my team was in the Super Bowl… then I might be saying, “This is going to be the best game EVER!!) 😉
Nah. Gimme some NHL playoffs and March Madness. I’m good to go.
Last night Jen and I played a new card game called Tunge. (Not sure how you pronounce it.) She discovered it on a blog she reads and wanted to play it with me. I’m always game for a new … game. 🙂
So, we figured it out pretty easily and had a good time playing. Mostly. That is until I noticed that this game – as with many card games – is almost entirely won by luck. You just have to get the right card. “By the luck of the draw.” Those aren’t my favorite kind of games. I like knowing that I won (and you lost) because of my skill and cunning and craftiness.
But what all that reminded me of was my Buffalo Sabres.
See, this year, the Sabres – who last year finished the season with the best overall record – are not doing as well. At a quick glance, you might even think they were bad. I don’t remember if they were ever officially last in their conference… but they were at least second to last. (That in itself is deceiving as they were still only 6 or 8 points or so out of a playoff spot.) Most people do assume that the Sabres are just a shell of their former selves, losing their two captains from last seaons, Chris Drury and Daniel Briere.
It’s true that they miss the leadership and production of those two guys, but it’s not true that they are as bad as their record would indicate. Hockey is certainly a game of skill, on many levels. But it also involves a good bit of luck.
The bounces have not gone the Sabres’ way this year. They have outshot teams many a night, and come up losing by a goal. The goalie has made incredible save after incredible save, only to have a puck bounce off the boards behind him and either into the net, or right to the lucky opponent standing near the crease to cash in. Goal posts have rung, goals have been disallowed, injury after injury after injury have plagued this once-feared team.
We do not have cable this year, and so have only kept up with the team via radio (over the internet) and reading at sabres.com and NHL.com. We have also caught the occasional Sabres game on Versus.com. But from everything I have seen, this team is still very good. Very young, but very good.
I try and catch the post game interview with Lindy Ruff after every game. (Subscribe to the podcast at iTunes.) I like to hear what he’s got to say. He’s seen this team be the best, and now struggle through a year of seeming mediocrity. When things are bad, he says it. This year he has not said it. Almost every night he has nothing but positive things to say about the players and their effort and the chances they have created. He usually says something like, “It just didn’t bounce our way.” That has been my observation as well. The Sabres have just as much fight in them, just as much skill (though, more injuries to be sure) but they do not have as much “success”.
It will come. Luck works both ways. At least over the course of a whole season. The Sabres are coming out of a horrendous stretch of two wins in fourteen games. They have won three games in a row, looking for four tonight in Atlanta, where they play a Thrasher team that is tied with them in the conference standings.
Perhaps this small streak is the beginning of things starting to go our way. Maybe the Sabres will be on the more fortunate end of bounces, calls, injuries, etc.
If we’re lucky… 😉