Nov. 29, 2015 – A hotel sports bar in Detroit, Michigan – sometime in the afternoon…
By some stroke of good fortune, a large percentage of our traveling contingent ended up at the same place to watch the Bills take on the Chiefs in Kansas City, including Sabres coach Dan Bylsma.
There were plenty of “Billsy” moments in that game, and you know what kind of discussion that can trigger.
Jourdon LaBarber has taken over the daily coverage of the Sabres on Sabres.com this year.
He is young. He is from Buffalo. And he couldn’t help but project doom and gloom, or the inevitable, unavoidable fate that the Bills were in store for as the second half wore on.
The coach took particular interest in – and exception to – this, reminding “The Barber” that past history does not play a role in the outcome of today.
Jourdon responded with “I’m not the most pessimistic person from Buffalo.”
And before the sentence was complete, Bylsma exclaimed “Find me someone worse!”
As we all laughed, I couldn’t help but be envious of Jourdon, to be so young and relatively new to this business, to be able to share in this kind of back and forth with a person we deal with in a more business like setting on a day to day basis.
Fast forward to game day on December 1 at Joe Louis Arena and yours truly with a Jourdon-esque question!
Suffice to say, both the veteran and the kid on the Sabres beat need to be a little sharper at all times around Dan Bylsma.
It’s a good thing the coach wasn’t checking into the hotel in Vancouver with Dan Dunleavy, Brad May and me! Fresh off a loss in Edmonton hours earlier, Dunleavy’s luggage began making a lot of noise as we headed for the elevator.
You guessed it. The wheels were literally coming off. Wheel shrapnel spread out for more than a hundred feet back to the front desk.
It turned out to be an omen for the rest of the trip, not that the coach would ever believe that.
And after that final loss in Calgary, we bussed back to the hotel, passing this…
One guess as to what kind of debate that would spark?
Who has the bigger head: Mayday or Rayzor?
Incredibly Brad documented “head-offs” (the measuring of one’s noggin) that he had been a part of over the years with other teams.
And with dramatic emphasis he addressed Rob and proclaimed, “Guaranteed it’s 24 inches…you have a 2-foot head!”
And based on this picture, it’s hard to argue…
For as challenging as the Western Canadian road trip turned out to be, there have still been plenty of solid developments the past three weeks: a time period that produced a 5-5-1 record.
Significant for me to see from a team building standpoint, was Sam Reinhart’s first two-goal game, which happened in Nashville on Nov. 28. And while the goals were welcomed, it was the quest for the hat trick that showed how close the group is becoming.
Evander Kane did everything he could to set him up for a great, late chance. And this shift chart proves what Sam told us afterwards…they wouldn’t let him off the ice on his final shift!
Ryan O’Reilly’s career-best-tying point streak further emphasized just how valuable he is to this team.
It reached seven games because of this…
And eight games because of this…
Every night he is the hardest worker, and clear leader of this group.
And on pace for the best season of his career.
We rolled out another Beyond Blue & Gold, or BBG as we call it…or in this case a little BBoGo:
Part of what you saw there, will also be on display – in a different venue – next month at Sabres UnPucked…
And as is always the case after a Beyond Blue and Gold shoot, we had SO MUCH left over!
Zach had endless photos on hand of all stages of his life. (Hopefully when the Buffalo Bandits season begins we’ll revisit some of our lacrosse chat from that day.)
But one thing that occupies an even bigger place in his heart is his grandma.
This extended scene really helps capture even more of what makes Zach of who he is:
And while we are always grateful for the opportunity to tell stories about the players who resonate with the fan base, it’s even more rewarding to get messages like this, from Zach himself:
IN THE COMMUNITY
Two games to go before the Sabres find themselves off for the holidays with a week between games.
Thankfully we can all make a difference at those two remaining games at First Niagara Center with our annual holiday clothing drive.
Also want to acknowledge all of you who stepped up to become Holiday Angels for the first time.
Teresa Belbas, the Sabres Manager of Community Relations, on the impact of this initiative:
“The Sabres Holiday Angels program is an adopt a family program for the holiday season that was run in conjunction with Catholic Charities of Buffalo. Many fans, employees and Sabres players and their wives and girlfriends participated. We held the gift drop off (Monday) at First Niagara Center. Sabres Alumni were on hand to help load the gifts on to the donation truck. Through this program we were able to adopt 76 families throughout Western New York and make their holiday season brighter. Thank you to everyone who was involved!”
#DUFFALO THREE STARS
For the period ending December 15, 2015
(Order subject to change after December 25…)
Merry Christmas everyone! May you all have a safe, healthy and glorious holiday season!