Posts Tagged ‘Thomas Vanek’

February 21, 2003.

In front of 11,866 fans, which makes up 63.5% of HSBC Arena’s offered seating, the Buffalo Sabres are embarrassed by the Los Angeles Kings, losing 4-1.

Zigmund Palffy opens the scoring and puts the nail in the coffin with a third period shorthanded marker, the 11th such goal the Sabres have allowed already. As the center of recent trade suggestions, the Slovakian silences the discussions with his performance and gives the Kings further incentive to hold on to him.

But there is no quieting the anguish that exists for the Buffalo Sabres. Wins are scant, empty seats are visible in their home arena, Dominik Hasek’s withdrawal to Detroit remains a lingering problem, Martin Biron is overwhelmed by the increase in his goaltending workload and the allegations that team owner John Rigas committed fraud with his two sons casts a dark shadow over the club.

Bankruptcy declarations are uttered as a possibility while the National Hockey League controls the team. Everything is spiraling out of control in every way imaginable and the season cannot finish fast enough. (more…)

As the old adage goes, “like father, like son.”

Mike Foligno, a member of the Buffalo Sabres for a decade that spanned most of the 1980’s, was and still is a popular figure in the city. Receiving five consecutive Frank Eddolls Memorial Trophies at one point, which went to the team’s favorite player, the fans certainly appreciated him.

Unafraid to barge to the net or fight for teammates, Foligno was a scrappy forward who was willing to put himself in danger for the greater good of the club. His 1,450 penalty minutes are second-highest among all Sabre players.

More than that though, the Sudbury native had a great scoring touch, evidenced by his 247 goals with Buffalo. After each one, he’d show his enthusiasm by leaping in the air in celebration. (more…)

The 2003 NHL Entry Draft, perceived as one of the best in league history, churned out a bundle of cornerstone players in the first round–a few were also snagged in round two. And to think, such a coveted collection of players was forced to be put on hold for one year due to the lock-out. That distinction should have went to the class of 1999.

Going No.1 overall, Marc-Andre Fleury was chosen to fill the void in the Pittsburgh Penguins’ net. Ask, and you shall receive. The 27-year-old has decently done what he’s supposed to–the Philadelphia Flyers beg to differ– after a rookie season that saw much trial-and-error experimenting within the club.

As the second player to have his name called, Eric Staal went straight to work with the Carolina Hurricanes by amassing 100 points as a sophomore and sparking the group towards a Stanley Cup. Florida picked up Nathan Horton and while he wasn’t exactly a leader, he wasn’t a bust either. Nikolai Zherdev, as talented as they come offensively, didn’t solidify his selection with the Columbus Blue Jackets. (more…)

Vancouver did not realize what he was capable of. Ditto for the Florida Panthers, as he failed to pass the test in training camp and quite honestly, the 23-year-old was unsure himself. Under his own admission, Michael Grabner deserved to be cut from a club that has gone one decade without a postseason berth and aims its advertising on their opponents – among other things that do not include the team itself. Whereas the dismissal from Vancouver was purely business because of their depth, being axed from Florida was almost insulting. Long Island didn’t seem to mind; they ran into problems on the injury front in September. So, against all odds, they made the 14th overall pick of the 2006 Entry Draft their property via the waiver wire.

“It’s another chance for me,” Grabner said. “I’m glad (the Islanders) took a chance on me. Hopefully I can pick up my game and help them out here.” (more…)

Jason Pominville has a lot going for him nowadays. He’s playing a sport he loves for a living, knowing full well that he’s a key member of the Buffalo Sabres after six years of working his way up the ladder. As a rookie, he excitingly netted a shorthanded overtime winner in the second round of the postseason which elevated the team to the Conference Finals. Now, the 28-year-old can add the honor of the historic club’s captaincy, that has been bestowed upon him, to the list.

The waiving of Craig Rivet last year had to happen; he was an aged veteran who had lost a step and the game’s speed isn’t exactly accommodating these shortcomings. Experience is taking a backseat, as the influx of youth is pouring into the league rapidly and pushing some of the older players out of a job. Sure, Teemu Selanne and Nicklas Lidstrom have it in them to defy this logic, but they are rare exceptions. For every Taylor Hall or Jeff Skinner, there is not a Ray Whitney or Mark Recchi to cancel them out.

In Rivet’s place, Lindy Ruff selected Pominville as his new leader for the upcoming season. You might ask why, especially with the arrival of the hard-nosed Robyn Regehr, a man who led by example in Calgary. Thomas Vanek and Derek Roy, two of the team’s other long-serving forwards, were considered as well. Along with Drew Stafford and Paul Gaustad, they accepted an alternate captain position, while Pominville was the correct choice that the coach opted for. (more…)

Athletes pride themselves on their conditioning and exercise routines, even Kyle Wellwood is starting to catch on. Growing up, Nathan Gerbe had a very intensive tactic to help him build leg strength: pushing an automobile all on his own. In his hometown of Detroit, Michigan, he’d find an empty parking lot or rural road, shift the car in neutral and push on the rear bumper.

“I never pushed it home, but on workout days I would push it around the track to try to gain strength any way I could,” Gerbe said. “I’d use whatever car was available – sometimes an SUV, sometimes a sports car.”

That commitment brought the winger to NCAA greatness, including MVP honors in the Frozen Four Tournament, a Dudley Garret Memorial Trophy in the American Hockey League which goes to the best rookie and now a permanent roster spot with the Buffalo Sabres. (more…)