SLY NOTES: WEST COAST
Wednesday, 01.13.2010 / 5:33 PM / Blogs - Kevin Sylvester
By Kevin Sylvester - Sabres "Hockey Hotline" Host
-This trip is a behemoth, seven games over 14 days. Two weeks away from home with 14 points up for grabs. The trip begins in Atlanta and Long Island before heading out West for five games. Those points will be tough to acquire against the two desperate teams in the East, and four playoff teams in the Western Conference. Anaheim would appear to be the easiest of the games out west, but that Tuesday night game will be directly on the heels of Monday’s game in Phoenix against the surprising Coyotes. I’m really not in the business of predictions, but I think the Sabres will grab nine points on this trip. That would be considered a great success, but this team has been very good on the road this year and responds well to challenges. Games in Phoenix, LA, San Jose, and Vancouver will be just that.
-The best line about this trip came from Harry Neale: “Lindy is bringing in a special coach for creative packing.”
-I always enjoy the month of January when most of the media attention turns to the Sabres. Hockey season starts with training camp in September, not when the Bills season is finished. I and many of the Sabres root for the Bills, and I see many of the Bills players attending Sabres games. So, if the two major league franchises have room for each other during their respective seasons, why doesn’t everybody else?
-Maple Leafs coach Ron Wilson made an interesting argument last week after he was overheard during practice ripping his team and in particular, Phil Kessel. The media asked him about why he was publicly criticizing Kessel and others. Before answering the question, Wilson questioned why the media is allowed to attend practice and that it’s not allowed in other sports. He suggested that the media be banned from watching practice or that what happens during practice should not be reported. I can see his argument. From a competitive stand point he’s right. Should the media be allowed to report on line changes and tactical maneuvers a team is working on to win? I don’t think so. So why is the media allowed to watch practice? Marketing and interest. If the media cannot attend practice that will limit stories about the team or headlines. Being in the newspaper each day, on the radio, or on television reports is inexpensive advertising for the team and NHL. When I covered the Buffalo Bills years ago, the media wasn’t allowed to watch practice under Marv Levy. The policy was different with the Carolina Panthers under George Seifert. The media was allowed to watch the entire practice and even private workouts of free agents. The difference was marketing, the Panthers needed it and the Bills didn’t.
-I was part of the Perry’s Ice Cream reading program at a local school this past week and witnessed how great Patrick Lalime was with the kids. Lalime read the book Hat Tricks Count, answered several questions, and then took pictures with each class and faculty members of the school. He has visited several schools, along with other team members, as part of the program. Not bad for a guy who didn’t learn to English until he was 21 years old.