The Quotable Harry Neale
One of Neale's most famous quotes from his coaching career came after coaching the Canucks to a loss during the 1981–82 season:
"Last season we couldn't win at home. This season we can't win on the road. My failure as a coach is I can't think of any place else to play."
"Our system of fore checking is to shoot the puck and leave it there."
"I know my players don't like my practices, but that's okay because I don't like their games."
Once, he put a 24-pack of beer at center ice at the end of a practice.
"I told 'em, 'The winning team gets the beer.' Honest to God, I was sorry I did it. I thought those guys were going to kill each other in that scrimmage."
Claude Lemieux is back? Is this a Recurring Nightmare (On Elm Street - read on 'till the last sentence)?
Glued to their analog sets late into the wee hours of the morning during the playoffs in 1994, Sabres fans relished the most "dominant" performance by a goaltender in Buffalo history. Dominik Hasek was up against Marty Brodeur - two of the best 'minders ever to play the game - in a zero to zero battle that went deep into overtime, and then continued into three more overtimes.
In the fourth overtime of that Game 4 of round one, Hasek stopped 70 pucks before Buffalo's Dave Hannan scored the game's only goal - after 60 minutes of regulation time and an additional 65:43 of overtime.
(Hannan wore #14 for those jersey enthusiasts out there who would like to make a special statement at the Sabres' next home game.)
But what about Claude?
Well, despite the "unorthodox" heroics of Hasek, the Sabres would fall to the Devils in seven games. Claude Lemieux, one of the better clutch playoff performers in NHL lore-books, scored the game winner not only in Game five (5-3) but also in game seven, an excruciating 2-1 decision.
On three occasions, Claude scored more goals during the playoffs than he did during the regular season (1985–86 with Montreal, 1994–95 with New Jersey, and 1996-97 with Colorado). Lemieux retired with 80 career playoff goals, ninth all-time in the NHL.
The Sabres will welcome back "The Other Lemieux," now un-retired, and a 43 year old member of the San Jose Shakrs, to the HSBC Arena on Friday the 13th, of this month.
Hockey and football are good sports in Buffalo
Sabres hockey is
Bills football isn't
In the 91-92 season, not many teams in the NHL were happy about facing off against the Buffalo Sabres. It's not because they were a tough team to beat - their record at the end of the season was an unremarkable 31-37-12. They were however a tough team, that beat, and then beat, and then beat down the opposition some more - in the face.
The tag-team combination of Rob Ray and Brab May found its hay day in that season.
With Ray's 354 PIM's, May's 309, and Mike Donnelly's 305, the Sabres became the first team in NHL history to have three thugs, er, players, to achieve 300 PIM's or more. The Sabres also broke the record for team PIM's in one NHL season, with 2,713.
That's a lot of time to sit, feel shame, and think. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n_w4MV_LwMw
Live by the Sword, Die by the Sword
In this factoidal case, the "sword" is the Sabres' special teams. On February 25th, 2001, the Sabres suffered two short handed goals against them... on the same powerplay.
The Lightning did strike twice, when Nils Ekman and Todd Warriner scored just 25 seconds apart while shorthanded. The goals cut the Sabres' lead from 5-2 to 5-4, with less than four minutes left in the 3rd.
But it was Buffalo's powerplay that would actually help to save the day. The Sabres had managed to score 3 powerplay goals on their 10 attempts, just one goal good enough to get them past Nils, Todd and Co. It also helped that the Sabres had killed off all of Tampa's 4 powerplays on the night.
The Sabres would go on to win the game 5-4, with Dave Andreychuk netting the game winning goal.
"Our power play was clicking and obviously played a big part in the win," Sabres coach Lindy Ruff said. "But it almost gave it back by allowing those two short-handed goals."
Clicking both ways, really.
Keeping with a "Lightning" theme:
Danny Gare Strikes Twice, Lightning Quick, and then does it again
Danny Gare scored Buffalo's fastest two goals in Sabres history - netting the pair in just ten seconds against Toronto on 11-8-80.*
But as Factoids has revealed, the Sabres have a certain ironic history of letting things come back to haunt them.
Gare faced off against his former teammates after being dealt to the Detroit Red Wings, and was then involved in the fastest three goals ever scored against the Sabres. Gare scored twice, and Bob Manno added a third goal, in just 34 seconds on 10-26-84.
*Derek Plante also scored 2 goals in 10 seconds, on 12-20-96 vs. LA
As Rick Jeanerrette once sang:
"Who Says this Guy (Alex Mogilny) is afraid of Flying?"
While "Alex the Great" may have had trouble flying on planes, he never had any issue flying to the opposition's net.
Mogilny scored the fastest goal from the start of a game in Buffalo history when he scored five seconds into a regular-season game against Toronto on Dec. 21, 1991.
Derek Roy holds the fastest opening goal in a playoff game for the Sabres, having scored nine seconds into Game 4 of the Eastern Conference finals against the Ottawa Senators in 2007.
Randy Cunneyworth Watches the Other Team Hold up a Cup - Twice in one Year
Sabres fans recount with ire the controversial defeat of Buffalo by Dallas in the Stanley Cup finals in 1999.
Randy Cunneyworth was a member of that Sabres team, but losing that series wasn't the only 2nd place disaster he had to endure.
That same season, he also suited up for the Rochester Americans to play in the Calder Cup Finals. Rochester fell to Providence.
Currently, Cunneyworth is doing his best to help the Atlanta Thrashers win a championship series, as assistant coach.
"There is no room for second place. There is only one place in my game and that is first place. I have finished second twice in my time at Green Bay and I never want to finish second again. "
-Vince Lombardi (NFL)
Must be nice, Vince, must be real nice, you jerk.
Friday the 13th Factoids - Where is Alex Zhitnik's Brother?!?
Alex "Killer" Zhitnik, one of the Russian roster members of the '99 cup-fightin' team, was born with a twin brother, Dmitri.
Factoids was unable to locate any information on this twin, other than the fact that he was born.
The hook here, really, is the fact that one of "our" boys can have a twin, and no one knows about it. That is the Shroud of the Iron Curtain, still up, after all these years.
If I figure out where and who this Dmitri is and came to be, I will post it here.
Plain and simple: Ron Francis and Ray Bourque were holy terrors when facing off against the Sabres. Buffalo fans will recall with ire Francis and the 'Canes advancing to the cup finals in 06-07, and Bourque routinely winning games seemingly by himself.
For all-time career points by a player versus Buffalo, Francis tops the chart with 114, with Bourque close behind at 113.
Still, it's hard to hate Francis or Bourque - hockey players of the purest design.
A few Hometown Heroes
Though the Buffalo area has produced many NHLers over the years, Patrick Kaleta is just the third Buffalo-area resident to play for his hometown Sabres.
Buffalo's Peter Ciavaglia played in 5 games between 1991 and 1993. Scott Thomas played 39 games for the Sabres between 1992 and 1994.
Look for Buffalo-born Tim Kennedy to join the team on a full time basis next season.
Whatever happened to... Christian Ruuttu?
Ruuttu remains tied for 4th in All-time Sabres rookie scoring in Buffalo's record books.
Still, after two very good seasons for the Blue and Gold, his dependability on the ice mysteriously transformed into a reliability of only one thing - less production, year after year. Well, that, and his lady-killing blonde Finnish locks.
After 22 goals and 65 points as a rookie, and then 26 goals and 71 points the next season, he never again recorded a 20 goal season, drawing Bronx cheers of "Ruuuuuttuuuuuu," from Buffalo fans whenever he was on the ice. (A sad story, but it's not as if the fans were booing Santa Claus - for those Philly fans reading this post.)
Fans close to Sabres Lore may remember that he was eventually traded to the Jets, for Staphane Beauregard (G), who was promptly delivered to Chicago for Dominik Hasek.
After leaving Buffalo, Ruuttu played in Chicago for 2 and 1/2 seasons before being traded to the Canucks for a 25 game stint.
His NHL career then over, Ruuttu continued playing pro hockey in Europe until 1999. From 2000-2004, he served as General Manager of the Espoo Blues of the Finnish Pro League and was a Board Member of the Finnish Elite League.
After that final stint in Europe, he landed a job with the Phoenix Coyotes, where he remains today, as their Head European Scout. He resides in Helsinki, Finland with his wife, Camilla, and son, Alexander (15).
The Buffalo Seals?
Along with his brother Northrup R. Knox, Seymour Knox III presented an application to the NHL on October 19, 1965, to obtain a National Hockey League expansion team in 1967, but they were denied.
In 1968, the NHL Board of Governors rejected the agreement to move the Oakland Seals to Buffalo - denied again.
But the brothers would refuse to be shut out. Finally, on December 2, 1969 the league announced its decision to expand to Buffalo and Vancouver for the 1970–71 season.
The "Sabres" were worth waiting for. I can only imagine the headlines WNY fans nearly had to endure... "Seals Clubbed by Canadiens in Buffalo."
That being said, a "buffalo seal" would be an intimidating animal, and it would have been interesting to see how they would have made a logo out of this.
I've been a busy man lately. I will try to keep up with this more. Meanwhile, here's a nice tidbit:
This past draft was the first time in Sabres history that the team selected an entire line - 3 forwards (Kassian, Foligno, Lagault), 2 defensemen (McNabb, Adams), and a tender (Knapp).
Let's just hope we never catch that goalie "knapping" in the crease. (Yea, sorry about that, but we all know those jokes are going to be rampant on broadcasts if he makes it to the squad.)