Kim Pegula

PHT Morning Skate: Best fits for top trade targets; Bruins have room to work with

Welcome to the PHT Morning Skate, a collection of links from around the hockey world. Have a link you want to submit? Email us at phtblog@nbcsports.com.

• Adam Gretz chooses ideal landing spots for top trade deadline targets. Chris Kreider making the Blues even more relentless? Yikes. (YardBarker)

• Gus Katsaros supplements that with an analytics-based look at those who have already been traded, and those who might move. (Rotoworld)

• Speaking of players who were already traded, Tyler Toffoli shares his experience hustling to join the Canucks. Yes, it involved sharing some joking texts with once-again-teammate Tanner Pearson. (Sportsnet)

• Breaking down how Brenden Dillon fits with the Capitals. Interesting point that while Dillon is prone to taking penalties, the Caps’ strong PK might mitigate that drawback. (Japers Rink)

• The Bruins possess healthy cap space, making a trade deadline move relatively simple by contender standards. They’d only need to juggle a bit if they landed a big-budget rental. (NBC Sports Boston)

• I’ve pondered how teams might practice “load management” with players plenty of times before. With that in mind, it’s nice to see a deeper discussion of the practice — or lack thereof — in the NHL. Dom Luszczyszyn discusses how parity makes NHL teams less likely to rest players than their NBA counterparts, but how smart hockey teams should explore similar tactics anyway. (The Athletic, sub required)

[MORE: PHT’s 2020 NHL Trade Deadline Tracker]

J.T. Miller has delivered at a staggering level for the Canucks on the ice. It turns out he’s elite when it comes to heartwarming gestures, too. (Canucks)

• Cycling back to Miller’s on-ice impact, The Point recently broke down his breakthrough. Sheng Peng discusses how well Miller gels with Canucks star Elias Pettersson. (The Point)

Braden Holtby has looked sharp lately. After struggling through much of this regular season, could Holtby be back on his game? (Nova Caps)

• Kim and Terry Pegula told Sabres GM Jason Botterill that they are not looking to hire a president of hockey operations. Botterill apparently said in the past that he prefers to report directly to ownership. All of that said, it’s not clear if the Pegulas might be looking for a new General Manager. (Buffalo News)

• Things were bad for Milan Lucic, particularly in November. With James Neal red-hot, people were making unkind comparisons. But even more directly, he found himself benched, and pondered retirement because the game just wasn’t fun anymore. Like a frosted tip, it seems like Lucic has his sparkle back at the moment, though. (Sporting News)

• Andrew Berkshire recently broke down the five best defensive pairings in the NHL, including Nashville’s Roman JosiRyan Ellis combo. (Sportsnet)

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

Sabres fans seem to be running out of patience

Sabres fans losing patience Duane
Getty Images
5 Comments

The Buffalo Sabres face a grim possibility: losing their Duanes.

Linus Ullmark‘s significant injury made it clear(er) that the Sabres’ playoff drought seems likely to extend to nine consecutive seasons. Apparently that realization is pushing fans – including the most hardcore ones – to a boiling point.

In at least one case, that boiling point created quality entertainment.

Duane channels Sabres fans’ disdain

If you want to hear passion and anger from a fan, listen to caller Duane’s passionate rant to WGGR 550’s Schopp and the Bulldog. Then wonder: when was the last time you felt as strongly about sports (or anything?) as Duane does here?

Delightful, at least if this Twitter user is the Duane, and thus is enjoying the attention from becoming something of a viral sensation.

Someone even spliced it with music from “Titanic,” which might double as a way to preserve the clip:

Duane has become something of a mascot for fan discontent. Sabres fans have responded to various team tweets with references, sometimes merely responding with “Duane.” #WeareallDuane appears to be the most frequently used hashtag, but it’s far from the only one.

Here’s hoping that others follow Duane’s advice, then, and use their voices “responsibly.” USA Today’s Bradley Gelber took screenshots that indicate the Pegula family has dealt with harassment. As we’ve seen from innumerable Internet movements in just about every niche, people can go from passionate to toxic at the drop of a hat. Here’s hoping that this doesn’t end up that way, or if it has, that such ugly behavior stops.

Sabres fans upset by mistakes both big and small

Because, no doubt about it, it’s understandable if Sabres fans are losing their patience.

Again, the team hasn’t made the playoffs since 2010-11. The Sabres last won a series in 2006-07. Fans suffered through some of the worst NHL teams (and overall sports teams) of the past decade during this span. There’s been recent growth, but sometimes raised expectations only make the lows feel lower.

And, when those feelings fester, little things start to feel like bigger annoyances.

Fans and Sabres media alike noted mistakes such as Dave Andreychuk’s jersey being spelled “Andreychuckduring “Aud Night” and poor execution for other throwback festivities. When teams are competitive, mistakes like these usually get laughed off. When losing lingers, people can sometimes fixate.

(Photo by John Crouch/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

The easiest answer is to say that winning would solve your problems. That playoff runs could stop a Duane drain.

Yet, with the Sabres facing long odds to make the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs (they’re 10 points out of the final East wild-card spot), fans might need to wait until next year — again.

Don’t be shocked if there are a bunch of Duane-related signs as the Sabres host Montreal on Thursday. Fans get a bunch of opportunities, actually, with eight of their next nine games in Buffalo.

All of that home-cooking might not spark an unlikely playoff run, but the Sabres at least have a chance to make their hardcore fans happier.

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

Report: Bills sale to Sabres owner expected to be approved this week

1 Comment

According to ProFootballTalk’s Mike Florio, the Buffalo Bills sale to Sabres’ owner Terry Pegula is expected to be rubber stamped this week.

Florio’s sources indicate that the purchase of the franchise is on the agenda for this week’s NFL ownership meetings in New York.

The Buffalo News reporter Tim Graham told Florio on his podcast PFT Live that it’s expected Terry Pegula’s wife, Kim Pegula, will be in charge of the football operations.

Pegula purchased the holding company, which owns the Sabres and the First Niagara Center in February 2011.