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LOOKING AHEAD

Wednesday, 04.18.2012 / 4:06 PM
By Kevin Sylvester - Sabres "Hockey Hotline" Host / SLY NOTES

* I’ve received several inquiries as to what I’ve been doing with myself since the season ended. The answer: my taxes. And the government wins again! That’s sort of true. I’ve found the end of the season to be a strange place. So much is put into a campaign physically and emotionally by the entire staff, and the sudden finish is not easy to digest. Walking into First Niagara Center without the ice and activity is a bit depressing. It’s a daily reminder of what could have been. That’s how I feel at least. I’m sure for many fans it’s even tougher, given all the emotion and discretionary dollars invested in the team. That shouldn’t be taken lightly, and I can assure you it isn’t, as management combs over the team and how to improve it. Nobody is happy, but they’re not sitting around wallowing in it either. It’s time to evaluate and move forward.

* It will be interesting to see how some of the players expected to be here full time next season perform in the playoffs for the Rochester Americans. In particular: Marcus Foligno, Corey Tropp, Luke Adam, Brayden McNabb and TJ Brennan. They were difference makers in the final push to make the AHL postseason and need to continue that. David Leggio is also intriguing between the pipes given he was the team’s MVP this season. And I’ll add one more player in center Kevin Sundher. He joins the Amerks after finishing his junior season, although his playoff production with the Brandon Wheat Kings was low with only three points in nine games.

* You have to love the monikers of junior hockey teams in Canada. For example, the Brandon Wheat Kings.

* My son asked me last week why we were not in Florida for spring break like many of his friends. My answer: If I worked for the Columbus Blue Jackets we would have been. That may have been an unnecessary shot at Columbus, but I thought it was better than telling him I’m too cheap to book last minute.

* Drama aside, it’s great to have every playoff game available on TV. Great move by the NHL and NBC.

* I think Kenny Albert and Joe Micheletti did a nice job handling the Chicago/Phoenix game following the Raffi Torres hit on Marian Hossa. That’s not easy to handle a situation like that, but they were class all the way. Micheletti particularly handled the Joel Quenneville interview well, as the Blackhawks coach was rightly irate over the hit that was not penalized. In the end, however, it was not a good night for the NHL with one of the league’s better players carted off on a stretcher. As for that hit and other offenses that have resulted in fines and suspensions this post season, whatever happened to respect for your competitor? I may be wrong, but it used to be you hated the opponent and played as hard as you could against him. You didn’t try to injure him. What did Torres think was going to happen when he charged from across the ice and launched himself into Hossa? Any idiot would know connecting on the hit would be devastating. NHL players are in great shape, but they don’t train to acquire mass to absorb hits like that. Football players do. I like a good hit just as well as the next guy, but the brutal predatory hits need to be eliminated from the game. There’s no place in the NHL for Ronnie Lott. I guess the suspensions and fines will have to be longer and heftier, which will likely have to be negotiated into the next CBA. Additionally, the players union shares some responsibility in this and should have a general meeting of its constituents to discuss ending some of the carnage.

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