Thursday, August 21, 2008

Let's Revisit the 2002 Buffalo Sabres, Shall We?

by Anne

This afternoon, Mary Kate was going through some boxes at our storage space and in amongst the packaging she found this gem:


What is that exactly, you're asking? It is the Sabres' season preview from when they opened the season on October 10, 2002.

I'm not sure if this teddy bear was drawn this afternoon or in 2002.

The camera never knew such love.

From left to right we have Eric Boulton, now an Atlanta Thrasher, Rayzor and a babyfaced Adam Mair. Heading into the 2002 season, this was our 4th line. This year's equivalent would be like Kaleta, Petey and, actually, Mair, appearing on the cover of the season preview. No Cap'n Stu? Jay McKee? Marty Biron? No? Random. Oh how times have changed since the lockout and near bankruptcy... or have they?

In some ways yes. Check out this headline:

Wha-? Bucky actually speaks rather fondly of Ted Nolan in this article.

He also talks about how Lindy needs to evolve his managing of the team. This article is basically a "Lindy Ruff is OUTTA here" package for the fans. Another article starts listing all his "record team accomplishments" at the time, in terms of games coached and won as well as playoff stats. Hahaha. He's like doubled those numbers to date but 6 years ago, they were team records too.

Ah, good old Bucky, using the same headshot for at least the last 6 years.

If y'all recall this was NOT a good time for the Sabres. This off-season saw the League take over ownership of the team when the Rigases were arrested, they missed the playoffs and they did almost nothing during free agency. They missed the playoffs the season before and had bankruptcy issues. THEY ALSO DRAFTED POMMER THAT OFFSEASON BUT NO ONE MENTIONS THAT?!?!!!!!

Also, there was a lot of dramz because someone who was trying to buy the team was tight with Ted Nolan and there were rumbles that if that sale went through, Ted Nolan would be back and I guess people were down with that? I think they were just looking for a change because things were going from bad to worse.

There are many references in this preview to how much Lindy loves Adam Mair

"Ruff immediately fell in love with Mair's gritty, momentum-changing style. Making Mair even more attractive to the coach is the fact that he was acquired in a trade with the Los Angeles Kings for former first-rounder [Erik] Rasmussen, whom Ruff could never cajole into playing passionate hockey"

Lindy's distaste for players who play without passion runs deep, Dmitri Kalinin. I love Mairsy even though he's scary. He's quite reliable and I would definitely pick him to defend my honor in a joust.

Another difference between then and now. Please enjoy this hilarious quote:

"[Hockey observers] watched closely when a marketing campaign to drive season-ticket sales pretty much fell flat in the community."

OMG. What a *HEADDESK* moment. Dear diary, for Christmas I want a time machine so I can go back to the off-season of 2002 and convince my parents to buy season tickets. Love, Anne.

However, some headlines could easily be inserted in this year's preview and no one would find anything amiss:

Back when Afinogenov showed "promise" and before Tim Connolly "Had his brain nearly leak out his ear".

Just swap out "Campbell" for "Sekera", "Afinogenov" for "Gerbe" and "Connolly" for "Kennedy" and most of the article is still relevant.

That picture is actually Tom Barrasso, but make it Millsey and John Vogl can just copy and paste for this season

This article (by Bucky, of course) talks about the plans to increase goal-scoring and eliminate the neutral-zone trap. Once again, Bucky, copy and paste and toss in a paragraph about goaltender equipment size and you're all set.

There weren't an OVERWHELMING number of hilariously bad predictions, but I'll just touch upon a couple.

"Don't forget the guys waiting in Rochester, like 22-year olds Ryan Miller and Norm Milley,"

Good old NORM MILLEY! What a GUY!..........(WHO THE BLEEP IS NORM MILLEY?)Here's his Wikipedia page. Thank goodness we didn't hold our collective breath on that one. Who's this "Ryan Miller" guy they mention a grand total of like 3 times but only in passing?

"Satan might be on the verge of breaking out as a bona fide NHL superstar."

Oh lord, no. No no no no no. He might do well in Pittsburgh this season, but "superstar" he ain't. Thanks for trying to make us feel better, Tim Graham. We'll probably be saying the same about Vanek soon. Ugh. I LOVE YOU SABREBRITNEY1!

"Fellow prospect Norm Milley impressed the Sabres for the second straight training camp, but Kotalik was a little better."
Really? Nahhhhhh, Milley is the BOMB! HE'S OUR #1 GOALTENDER? WHY ARE WE COMPARING HIM TO KOTAL- oh Norm Milley. That guy again?

"Kalinin... could develop into one the league's elite stay-at-home defensemen."

WOW. In what universe did that ever seem possible? Maybe he'll THRIVE in New York...

Just make the obvious name and number substitutions:
"The Sabres also would prefer to reduce Biron's heavy workload from last season when he tied the team record for games played with 72. He was ridden so hard because the Sabres couldn't trust former backup Bob Essensa."
I HOPE someone copies and pastes that paragraph this year.

There was much optimism that the '02-'03 team would improve up on the poor performance of the '01-'02 team and let me just say, they could not have been more wrong. They did MUCH WORSE in '02-'03 than the previous season. In '02-'03 they went 27-37-10-8. The season before they were 35-35-11-1.

Alan Pergament called Nick Lidstrom Nick "Lindstrom" in an article as well. SHAME! SHAME! The Red Wings had JUST won the last Cup too. You should be EMBARRASSED, Alan Pergament.

Good times. Here's hoping that the '08-'09 Sabres really DO improve from last year.

P.S. What is up with that Blue Jackets prospect just deciding to call it quits?


  1. I was going to ask if Bucky's picture has been the same since the 1800's.

    Maybe daddy forced the Blue Jacket's kid to play hockey?

  2. Haha that's a great find, I love finding old articles and stuff like that and seeing how wrong it was.

  3. Excellent post. Sorry I didn't catch it when it was new.

    Sometimes when I'm reading (obsessively) about hockey, I'm left with the feeling that I'm just reading about nothing. Basically, that I'm reading some random predictions and projections.

    Very interesting to see how much the team has changed and what people were saying about them 5 years ago.

    Anyways, good job.

    Oh, and I miss Big Bear!!!!!!!!:(


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Glossary... Sort of

  • "Ryan Miller Shutout" - A 58 minute, multi-goal shutout lead that is blown when Miller allows one meaningless goal
  • Britney or SabreBritney - Thomas Vanek
  • Butter Snaps - Carolina Hurricanes. Because Butter Snap pretzels, like the Carolina Hurricanes, are disgusting
  • Greener - MATT Greene (LAK)
  • JBG - Jolly Blonde Giant - Tyler Myers
  • Little Foot - Drew Stafford
  • MK - Anne's sister; often leaves nonsensical comments under her Twitter name Mmmkizzle
  • Oscar - Anne's cat

Because it's never not funny

Completely adorable