Today has been like Christmas in June for Sabres fans.
Lets start with the Sabres being rated the third best franchise in the NHL by The Hockey News. Wait, did you say third, really?? Â I first heard this news while listening to WGR550 on my way to work and I swear I almost drove my car into a ditch. Â The 30 NHL franchises were rated in 9 categories: Front Office, Regular Season, Future Watch, Playoffs, Draft Success, Franchise Value, Ownership, 2010-2011 Standings, and Attendance. Â High scores in four out of these categories make sense, the other five, not so much.
The Sabres have drafted very well for the last 10 years, drafting 20 players just between 2001-2005 drafts that have played in the NHL, 10 of which currently play for the Sabres. Â Recently, we have picked up players like Nathan Gerbe, Tyler Myers, Tyler Ennis, Luke Adam, Braydon McNabb, Marcus Foligno, Mark Pysyk, just to name a few.
Two words, Terry Pegula. Â He took over as owner near the end of February and changed the entire vibe of HSBC Arena. Â He, along with Ted Black and the rest of the management team have redesigned the locker room and have already implemented changes in the arena and during games through a fan suggestion box. Â To say I love him would be an understatement, he is the best thing to happen to the Buffalo Sabres in a very long time.
This is a category the Sabres have not lacked in since the lockout. Â In the 2 seasons following the lockout, tickets were a difficult thing to come by, but attendance lagged a bit the years the Sabres failed to make it to the postseason. Â Sabres tickets became a hot commodity when Pegula took over the team with all remaining home games selling out (12 regular season games and 3 playoff games).
So what else happened you ask, well….
- Former Portland Pirates head coach, Kevin Dineen, was introduced as the new head coach of the Florida Panthers (sadface) on Wednesday.
- The Sabres signed 2010 1st round draft pick Mark Pysyk, a defenseman currently playing for the Edmonton Oil Kings in the Â Â Western Hockey League.
- The Sabres announced they would not renew the contract of Associate Coach Brian McCutcheon. Â If the sale of the Rochester Americans to Terry Pegula goes through, McCutcheon is expected to be introduced as the head coach. Â If the sale falls through he would simply be released.
- The Sabres also announced plans for aÂ draft party which will take place during the first round of the 2011 NHL Entry Draft.
- WGR550 also started discussing who would replace McCutcheon. Â Some names that were thrown around were current Sabres Player Development Coach Kevyn Adams and current Anaheim Ducks assistant coach Mike Foligno (YES!!!). Â Both would be excellent choices and both have ties to the city already. Â Adams grew up in Clarence and Foligno played for the Sabres from the 1981-1982 season until the 1990-1991 season.
- Locker room renovations are underway. Â Follow this link to the Sabres website to take a looksie at what Mr. Pegula and Mr. Black have in mind when they talk about turning Buffalo into Hockey Heaven.