I settled in to spend some time following the NHL expansion draft. The new Las Vegas Golden Knights go ‘live to air’ this fall, competing as the first NHL expansion team since Columbus and Minnesota came into the league many years ago, right around the time our beloved Buffalo Bills last competed in the playoffs.
I know many people like myself who travel the Vegas destination often due to friends and family residing in the valley; will be strategic moving forward with the dates of planned visits. Those dates will certainly be analyzed carefully before booking a flight based on when the Sabres play in Southern Nevada. Pretty smart..huh?
Teams spend days and weeks masterminding the best strategy on protecting and exposing players and minimizing the huge risks. I mentioned feeling smart, did I not? I was feeling this was a simple task due to a totally unrelated accomplishment, yet an accomplishment it was and confidence I did not lack.
I just recently solved the much anticipated ruse on the newly ABC re-creation of the 1970’s famous talent exhibition, The Gong Show. Riddle me this. I successfully identified the washed up English actor Tom Maitland as good old Wayne from SNL’s skit turned movies, Wayne’s World and Austin Power’s star, Michael Myers.
We won’t get into ‘I married an axe murderer’ or I may ruin this entire article, which I have been known to do… Really well played out over all, but just how long is it funny to have a well know celebrity on a game show hosting it as someone else. It did its job and got everyone’s attention. Andy Kaufman would be proud.
No deal… No problem… no worries… as long as in Positioning themselves only a small quantity of players of any significance are left unprotected. Significance could mean valuable players to your team’s performance on the ice remaining secure. Significant could also be a contract you truly want Vegas to select and take off of your hands.
As much as I love hockey being a rink rat growing up playing on multiple teams at a time throughout certain seasons, football drafts are just simply better. Regular season football games are simply better than regular season hockey games. I will gladly stack up an NHL playoff game against any sport for action, intensity, excitement, aggressiveness and pure entertainment.
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That being said 82 regular season hockey games take place to narrow it down the playoff teams and that can be long and at times uneventful, and yes I will say it, boring.
When it comes to drafts, once in a great while, your team may be involved with a chase like the Sabres were two seasons ago, basically tanking it to get the best chance to score Connor McDavid or Jack Eichel during a season where two franchise players were to be at the top of the draft. In football, the number one overall pick is usually brilliant his first year. Yes, the bust factor exists, but so do the Andrew Luck’s and Cam Newton’s lighting it up as a rookie.
If the Bills draft eighth overall, you expects a stud player who will be starting as a rookie no matter which side of the ball that player plays on. In hockey very high draft picks occasionally make the team the first year and often are so young they are returned to college or juniors.
So when sport writers state that the Buffalo Bills numbers are leaning towards a tank or all out rebuild, I do not believe it because they would not have kept Kyle Williams and Charles Clay around if they were planning on stripping to the bones and going 1-15… or worse.
I would guess they are retooling on the fly and if it results in a total bust of a season, bring on those top rated quarterbacks coming out of college. Because football players can be extremely impactful so quickly, I am willing to wait especially since we have already been waiting for 17 years.
In hockey a tank can seem to take an eternity. Yes Edmonton made the playoffs in McDavid’s second season. Heir rebuild though has been going on since about 2007. Many number one overall picks and still no team chemistry and no additional wins.
I am excited for the two new regimes under the ownership of the Pegula Empire. The Bills just appear more professional and carry themselves differently with their new front office. I can honestly see the Bills in the playoffs as much as the experts say no way. If the defense resembles anything of what it was prior to Rex Ryan’s arrival, then this season will be a successful one on the defensive side of the football. Jerry Hughes, Kyle Williams, Marcell Dareus all were amazing and without Mario Williams, they have Shaq Lawson and Lorenzo Alexander ready to crush the opponent’s quarterback.
Now if the offense can continue its dominance of the last two seasons rushing the football and improve on the passing game, they could have decent football team. Balanced for a change, on both sides of the ball, which could equal a winning season. I am not placing any world class wagers on that because they could also be a train wreck in that new systems are in place yet again which often times take half of a season to adapt to which in the 16 game season of the NFL, is far too late.
I think the Bills are one or two players or one or two injuries away from being really good or really bad. I think the Sabres are not there yet and are a team with a handful of good players for the future with way to many holes everywhere else.
A little comparison between the two major league teams in town is very much understandable being that both teams news is slow being in the offseason and both teams felt the wrath of Terry Pegula as the coach and general manager as well as many other coaching and front office positions were terminated of their employment meaning huge turnover in management.
I also don’t see either team having a Tim Murray style impulsive executive. Both GM’s were highly regarded and groomed and take the methodical sensible approach with limited risk factors, more like Darcy Regier. I apologize for that name because he was here for so many years, but patience was his game.
Doug Whaley was a gunslinger in that he pulled the trigger on moves like McCoy or trading away a ton for Sammy Watkins pick. He was involved in the trades to make the E.J. selection less of a reach and selecting Robert Woods. He never had an issue trading up or down to accomplish what he visioned was needed right there and then.
Tim Murray was the same in those ways. His deal getting Kane and O’Reilly were basically fantasies on talk radio that he made happen. But he also traded a number one pick for an unproven goalie with other options on the table. He traded away a top notch defensemen and a couple prospect defenseman the Sabres went from being viewed as having a very, very young defense with a bright future to a team that did not even have an NHL worthy defensive core. Some experts really even question the one defenseman the Sabres and the fans really rank high internally.
Enough about the ice hockey team comparisons for kicks, as justifiable as it is. My swimming pool water feels closer than the Sabers prospects are to actual ice — ice time in the near future — oh that was not very nice.
Now fine people in Bills Country and Sabers Land. Give me the opportunity to freshen up with a chunk of that gum that considers leaking liquid sweetener refreshing, ”chill out” like Arnold instructed cleverly as Mr. Freeze and ”Relax” only as Frankie goes to Hollywood did, guiding a generation. Those very important words being said, Ladies and Gentlemen I bring to you from a very nice plastic Adirondack chair between a cold swimming pool and not quite hot; hot tub as Hurley and Aldous look at me and look at me and look at me…that’s what dogs do, but really this is awkward…ok this is uncomfortable.
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Rookie wide receiver Zay Jones will have plenty of opportunity opposite Sammy Watkins this season. He was indeed the most targeted wide receiver in college ball in 2016 with 216. The next best was Trent Taylor at 171 which surely separates the first and second place player in that category.
Opportunities are extremely important for rookies giving them more opportunity to make plays. If a rookie drop or out of bounds call happens with very limited opportunities it can be discouraging to the player and have him viewed wrongly by the league’s players. Racking up opportunities can create a sort memory if he makes errors, and if not, he can have one heck of a rookie season.
Bill Polian who built the dynasty that was the late 80’s and 90’s Buffalo Bills knows the Bills need to identify who will step up at the wide receiver position this year. He is not naïve to the question mark at running back behind Shady. I cannot get cute and ask the real Slim Shady to please stand up, because the Bills real Shady has done more than stand up since arriving in town.
He has carried the team while standing up. Polian also wants to see how the offensive line holds up in pass protection for T-Mobile. That may seem like a lot, but that is his job and he comes up with more questions about the World Champions if you give him the open microphone. He thinks this Bills team is going in the right direction for the first time since 2004.
He says the defense should take several weeks to gel, but after that it is a very similar scheme that Jim Swartz implemented and the talent is there. It could be a dominating defense up front with the line and the linebacking crew. Special teams should be decent since they kept that coaching faculty in place and they are big supporters in players who do multiple things and that is exactly what special team’s coaches want to, but rarely hear.
This year and next year will be break out years in the Queen City in Mr. Polian’s view. However, many other experts view this Bills team in a different light. Time will tell. I realize the more and more I read and listen that the 2004 Bills were really a special team. I really really hate missed opportunities.
What am I talking about in missed opportunities? That team choked, losing to third stringers the last week of the season. Wait… missed opportunities can work here because the Bills got all of the help they needed around the league that a win by them puts them in the playoffs. So we would only be talking about a tiny 13 year playoff draught. Not too shabby
Good morning, Good afternoon, Good evening and in case I don’t see ya….good night.