Buffalo Look to Extend the Suffering to Their Opposition
When Buffalo Sabres GM Darcy Regier uttered his now infamous line, “It may require some suffering” he almost certainly meant the team’s rebuild. However, that terminology may have a distinct double meaning, whether Regier meant it that way or not. It seems that Buffalo have adopted the mentality that in 2013-14 if they are going to suffer so is their opposition.
Sunday night at the Air Canada Centre was the perfect example of this new mantra. After Leaf’s goon Jamie Devane fought highly-touted Sabres prospect Corey Tropp and knocked him out the Sabres were ready to respond. They sent out John Scott to go after Leafs superstar Phil Kessel.
The aftermath resulted is several slashes and a spear from Kessel who should miss some regular season games for his actions. The resulting brawl drew many references to old time hockey as even Ryan Miller and Jonathan Bernier left their creases to join the fray. Meanwhile, David Clarkson hopped the bench to help defend his team’s star player. As was the case with Paul Bissonnette he will now face a 10 game regular season suspension.
The Leafs could be without two of their stars for opening night in Montreal and that isn’t where the headache ends. As is outlined in the new CBA the salaries of these two players will still count against their cap during the suspension. This makes it difficult to sign Mason Raymond and even more so to sign key defensive piece Cody Franson.
You see, the fact is that unlike in the previous CBA, Clarkson and Kessel will still count against the Leafs cap even while suspended, and the Leafs will need to keep some AHL prospects up with the team to replace them in the lineup early this year. This will eat away cap dollars that the Leafs are already running short of.
In total there were 239 penalty minutes handed out in a game that quickly got out of hand. Especially against their divisional opponents this has become somewhat of a norm for Buffalo. In the first game against Toronto teams combined for 74 penalty minutes while against Montreal to start the preseason it was 52.
Buffalo certainly has the tools to maintain this in your face style. As a by-product of the legendary Milan Lucic collision with star goaltender Ryan Miller the Sabres have loaded up their good squad. Scott, the giant whose only job is to insure the Sabres are never seen as vulnerable again, was integral in Sunday’s proceedings. Meanwhile, Patrick Kaleta will insure outbursts like this occur often.
If no other factor indicates the Sabres mentality it is the fact that Steve Ott will most likely Captain the team this year. Ott is notorious as one of the most annoying players in the game to play against and as the frontman of the Sabres organization will demonstrate that this isn’t a team that others will look forward to playing.
Simply put, it is doubtful Toronto will be the last team to leave a game against Buffalo with an organizational headache. Especially in a division where brawn has become the new normal the Sabres will be able to get under the skin of many more high level talents, possibly promoting further suspension trouble.
So while there will be suffering in Buffalo in 2013-14 it won’t always be the home team feeling its affects.
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