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Bluelines: Patience is a Virtue For Sabres

By Stan Fischler
January 17, 2012

 

Editor's Note: Every Monday, our Stan Fischler goes around the NHL and looks at the biggest talking points in his Bluelines piece. While you read his latest, watch The Maven's Latest 5 for Fischler from Hockey Night Live above!

Sabres owner Terry Pegula is wisely being patient with his faltering club. He’s aware of injuries that have decimated Buffalo’s roster. “We’ve had 18 players go down in the last 25 games,” Pegula pointed out before the weekend when his sextet beat Toronto at home before losing to the Islanders in Uniondale. “It’s like a merry-go-round every night. Cut me a break. I told Darcy Regier one time, ‘If I was you, I would be afraid to get on the plane.’”
 
Bill Torrey, who has been a part of the Panthers' general staff for years, is more involved than ever. Dale Tallon asked the man who created the Islanders' dynasty to become more involved helping with the Panthers and Torrey has been happy to oblige. 

NHL.com’s Adam Kimelman made his list for  “First-Half’s Surprising Players” in the NHL. Topping the list is Florida’s Brian Campbell with the Rangers’ Michael Del Zotto runner-up and Blues goalie Brian Elliott rounding out the Big Three.

• The anti-fighting bloc is growing among NHL executives and influential media types as well. The Toronto Globe and Mail’s Roy MacGregor argues that the days of “Staged Fights” are fading. His point is well-taken as general managers realize that they get better results -- not to mention their moneysworth -- by employing fourth-liners who can play as well as fight. Ergo: Colton Orr is not the only high-priced goon who’ll wind up in the minors. The opposite is Michael Rupp who not only can handle his dukes but also produces key goals for the Rangers; as demonstrated in the Outdoor Classic where he tallied two big ones.

• Department of Unsung Heroes Among Non-Players: Dave Tippett and Don Maloney who’ve kept their Coyotes as playoff contenders through the whole ugly mess that includes playing with an uncertain future while ownerless. The longer there’s quiet about finding a sugar-daddy to keep the 'Yotes in Arizona, the more likely a move will be made. At least one NHL insider believes that the scenario is similar to Atlanta-to-Winnipeg. In that one, the 'Peg bosses kept quiet while putting all their ducks in order and when the move took place they were ready. Could be that the very same game plan is being followed either in Quebec City or Seattle, or a mysterious destination.

• Not surprisingly there’s considerable talk about Zach Parise future with the Devils, especially since he’s destined to be an unrestricted free agent on July 1. My conviction is that: 1) Parise will not be traded; 2) He will lead the Devils into the playoffs; 3) He will re-sign with New Jersey.

• The Sabres continue to beef up their front office. President Ted Black named Brent Rossi the new Vice President of Brand Strategy and Marketing. In his role, Rossi will serve as the leader of all marketing functions, including the development of strategy for brand management and enhancement, cross-promotional opportunities and brand extension initiatives. Adds Black, “The Sabres' brand is a powerful one that lives where our fans are. Brent will help us make the Sabres' brand stronger not only in the Niagara region, but also throughout the hockey world.”

• The newest Hollywood hockey flick is “Goon,” starring Sean William Scott, Jay Baruchel and Liev Schreiber. It’s the story of affable pub bouncer Doug Glatt (Sean William Scott), the black sheep in a family of academic overachievers, who draws the attention of a minor hockey league coach and suddenly finds his calling as an on-ice enforcer, pummeling any and every opposing team’s goon. Co-written by Jay Baruchel and Evan Goldberg, the creative tag team fleshed out the script based on the non-fiction book Goon: The True Story of an Unlikely Journey into Minor League Hockey by Doug Smith, a late bloomer and outsider to the hockey world who took on all naysayers to finally play for the world’s second-best hockey league.

• Too bad critics don’t give Oscars for performances on the annual HBO 24/7 which has turned into a must-see even among non-hockey cashews. The acerbic John Tortorella emerged as one of the most likeable -- and real characters on the show.

• How about this: Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper is terrific at double-tasking. Not only is he running the Dominion of Canada, but he’s currently writing a book on the history of hockey. And, in case you haven’t heard, the Prime Minister is also an avid Maple Leafs fan.

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