When I wrote today's Sabres story on their struggles in First Niagara Center, I didn't know the startling fact that I updated the Web version with early this morning: A loss tonight against the Los Angeles Kings makes the Sabres the second team in NHL history to go winless at home in their first 10 games of a season. Jeez.
The Sabres are currently 0-8-1 and the record for worst NHL start at home was set by the 1983-84 Pittsburgh Penguins, who went 0-9-2 (that's two ties) at then-Civic Arena. They finally won a game on Nov. 23, 1983 at the Igloo by beating New Jersey, 4-1.
That Pittsburgh team finished 16-58-6 and their 38 points was last overall in the NHL. It's widely believed the club tanked its season to get the No. 1 overall pick in the 1984 draft -- which it turned into Mario Lemieux. Hmmm. Sounds like a familiar strategy, even though there's no Lemieux in the offing at next June's league meeting in Philadelphia.
Robyn Regehr has two assists and a plus-3 rating in 17 games for the Kings this season (Getty Images).
By Mike Harrington
Los Angeles Kings defenseman Robyn Regehr is back in First Niagara Center today for the first time since the Sabres traded him West on April 1 for second-round picks in 2014 and 2015. Regehr, remember, was personally recruited by Terry and Kim Pegula and Lindy Ruff during draft weekend in 2011 at his summer home in Saskatchewan and agreed to a trade from his longtime home in Calgary.
The Sabres were talking Stanley Cup at the time and thought a veteran like Regehr was another piece. Obviously it didn't turn out that way. They missed the playoffs in 2011-12 -- with Regehr's turnover in the penultimate game in Philadelphia leading to the Matt Read goal that knocked Buffalo from contention. As last season approached the deadline, Jason Pominville, Jordan Leopold and Regehr were all dealt and the Sabres are essentially starting from scratch, with a 3-15-1 record heading into tonight's game.
"They've gotten rid of most of the older players and really decided to go young and try to get as many young guys in there and give them a chance," Regehr said. "It doesn't surprise me. With that type of rebuilding process, there's going to be lumps and they're going to be big."
Regehr, who got to Game Seven of the Stanley Cup final with Calgary in 2004, said the 2011-12 season here rates as one of his big disappointments. The Sabres barely needed a plane to fly to the season-opening games in Europe because they were so high with Cup thoughts. They won both but the season soon got away from them and they didn't even qualify for the playoffs.
Rangers coach Alain Vigneault got his first win with New York in Monday's 3-1 victory over the Kings in Los Angeles but the game will be far more remembered for the it-will-live-forever gaffe by LA goaltender Jonathan Quick.
Watch what happens to Quick -- and looked at the stunned reaction of coach Darryl Sutter -- when Ryan McDonagh makes a routine clear down the ice during a Rangers penalty. Holy moly. A few seconds later, listen to the crowd's reaction and watch for Quick's response when he cleanly fields another long clear. Downright Ryan Miller-esque.
What does this remind me of? How about this one from 2008 courtesy of former Leafs sieve Vesa Toskala? Pretty similar, although the only way Toskala is ever seeing a Stanley Cup or Conn Smythe Trophy like Quick has is by buying an admission ticket to the Hall of Fame.
It was 25 years ago this afternoon -- Aug. 9, 1988 -- that the NHL changed forever.
It happened via an epochal moment some say is akin to Paul Henderson's 1972 goal to beat the Russians or the 1980 U.S. Miracle on Ice, even though it never happened near the ice.
This is the anniversary of the day the Edmonton Oilers stunned Canada and the entire hockey world by trading Wayne Gretzky to the Los Angeles Kings. The Kings had been in the NHL for 21 years by that point but this is the moment most hockey experts say is responsible for the growth of the sport in California. The Kings and Ducks have won Stanley Cups and plenty of youth players nowcome from the Golden State, including Sabres defenseman Chad Ruhwedel.
Kings captain Dustin Brown is gone for the final two games of the regular season for his vicious elbow on Jason Pominville. Click the video above for the explanation from NHL discipline czar Brendan Shanahan.
The Oilers tied the game, or so it seemed, with 1:05 left on a goal by Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. But after a sudden discussion by officials, the goal was wiped out due to goaltender interference and fans at Rexall Place erupted. The ice was showered with debris and the game was delayed for about 10 minutes.
When it resumed, the Oilers scored the tying goal (again) as No. 1 overall pick Nail Yakupov swatted a rebound out of mid-air past Jonathan Quick with 4.7 seconds left -- and then took off down the ice for a knee-sliding celebration that reminded everyone of Theo Fleury circa 1991. Sam Gagner won the game with a goal in OT. With young stars all over, Edmonton has been great fun to watch so far.
John Vogl has been covering the Sabres since 2002-03, an era that has included playoff runs, last-place finishes and three ownership changes. The award-winning writer is the Buffalo chapter chairman for the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association.
Mike Harrington, a Canisius College graduate who began his career as a News reporter in 1987, has been covering the Buffalo Sabres since 2007. He is a member of the Professional Hockey Writers' Association and can vouch that exposed flesh freezes instantly when walking in downtown Winnipeg in January.
Amy Moritz, a native of Lockport, has a bachelor’s degree in journalism/mass communication from St. Bonaventure University and a master’s degree in humanities from the University at Buffalo. An endurance athlete, she has completed several triathlons, half marathons and marathons.