Future NHL stars excited to be on Upper Deck hockey cards

Darnell Nurse. (Photo courtesy of the NHLPA.)

By Michael Musalem

The next generation of NHL stars was on full display in Toronto this past Saturday, as 33 of the league’s most promising recent draftees gathered at Ryerson University’s Mattamy Athletic Centre for some serious face time.

The event put on by Upper Deck, the league’s official trading card partner, and the NHLPA is held each year with the purpose of photographing the prospects in their official NHL team gear for the first time, giving them all the opportunity to live out any pro’s lifelong dream of having their very own hockey card.   Read more

Chris Stewart on Sabres season: “Tanking is not in my DNA”

Matt Larkin
Chris Stewart

It’s hard not to think of Chris Stewart’s 2013-14 season as a slow, smothering banishment. He entered the season with St. Louis as its reigning top scorer, but that feels like an eternity ago. He struggled to find his consistency and fell as far as the fourth line.

Then came the trade to the lowly Sabres, with Stewart heading to Buffalo as part of the Ryan Miller swap. Looking back on it, plenty of players would sugarcoat their feelings and talk about what a great opportunity it was. Not Stewart. He tells it like it is, which is extremely refreshing.

“It was kind of frustrating,” Stewart said. “Being traded from the first place to the last place team in the league, that was definitely a surprise. But I got there, and I’m willing to go anywhere a team wants me and is going to show me that respect, give me a chance to showcase my talents. So I’m excited to be there. We made a lot of changes in the off-season. We’re going to have a team next year with Teddy Nolan leading the charge. We’re going to be ready to compete and surprise a lot of teams.”

And where does Stewart fit into that puzzle? You never know what you’re going to get with him performance-wise. There’s no doubting his raw ability. He’s a hulking power forward, 6-foot-2 and an honest 231 pounds, and still squarely in his prime at 26. He’s a legitimate goal scorer when he’s focused and on his game, having notched 28 twice. He’s capable of taking a team on his back when he’s hot. He sniped 15 goals in 26 games after the Colorado Avalanche traded him to St. Louis during the 2010-11 season.

On the other hand, coaches have called Stewart’s work ethic into question on and off throughout his career. This is a talented player, with a first-round draft pedigree, and his coaches expect high output from him every game. When they haven’t gotten that, they’ve pushed Stewart down the depth chart and even into the press box on occasion.

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NHL logo rankings No. 5: Buffalo Sabres

Rory Boylen
sabreshome

Down the stretch we come.

We started from Carolina and now we’re here, heading into the top five of our NHL logo rankings. On Friday, we’ll reveal which one we’ve ranked No. 1 (though you’ll be able to figure it out on Thursday), but we start the week at No. 5.

Thankfully, the Buffalo Sabres moved away from the Buffaslug a few years ago – and hopefully never look back. The return to an original look was one welcomed with open arms by just about everyone in and outside of Buffalo for good reason – the current logo is a homerun.

Sure, sometimes Buffalo sports teams are reviled for relying too much on the animal the city is named after in their logos, rather than using something related to the team’s nickname. The NFL’s Bills have forever been guilty of this. The Sabres used a buffalo as their logo for about 14 years in the ’90s and ’00s – but the current throwback look integrates both the city and team name into the design.

We despise when a team needs to spell out its entire name in the logo, but the Sabres get around this. Their full team name appears in the logo, but it’s represented by images instead of text. It’s as if this logo came as a result of a game of Pictionary. This design gets the job done. It represents the city in a way it all its sports team do, while also pointing to the team’s nickname. The blue and yellow colors are also easy on the eyes.

But if you think you can design a better look for the Sabres, now is your chance. Send in your redesign to editorial@thehockeynews.com and we’ll run our favorites next week, after we finish revealing our logo rankings. We’ve got some good ones on the other teams so far, but are looking for more. It’s crunch time!

(All logos below from Chris Creamer’s website.)

HISTORY OF THE SABRES LOGO
When the first Buffalo owners, Seymour Knox III and Northrup Knox, had to come up with a name for their NHL team, they wanted something different and unique. Bisons, a popular nickname for teams in the city, was not an option. A contest was opened up and the winning name came from Toronto filmmaker Harry Cole.

So, when Buffalo hit the ice for the first time in 1970, they did so as the Sabres, a name the team says is “renowned as a clean, sharp, decisive and penetrating weapon on offense, as well as a strong parrying weapon on defense.” This is the logo that comes to mind when you think of the French Connection or May Day.

The familiar blue, gold and white color scheme was settled on and wouldn’t be changed for 26 years. The Sabres made their first Stanley Cup final in 1974-75, their fifth season of existence, losing to the Flyers in six games.

sabres1

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Music and hockey: an all-star forum, part two

Ryan Kennedy
Saves-the-Day

On Thursday, I unleashed part one of a hockey and music forum featuring some of the people I like to talk about on those two topics. Here now is the conclusion of that session. Once again, the panel is composed of the following all-stars:

Nathan MacKinnon: Calder Trophy-winning center for the Colorado Avalanche, hip-hop head.

Drew Stafford: Veteran Buffalo Sabres right winger, heavy metal fiend

Boyd Devereaux: Stanley Cup winner with the Detroit Red Wings. Now retired, his company Waking Sound makes hockey promo videos featuring highlights set to music. He also founded the label Elevation Recordings, which put out psyche/noise/underground artists.

Vinny Karpuszka: Arena DJ for the Pittsburgh Penguins, heavy metal enthusiast

Sunaya Sapurji: Junior hockey writer for Yahoo! Sports and its Buzzing the Net blog

Uffe Bodin: Editor in chief and writer for Hockeysverige.se.

Arun Bali: Guitarist for Saves the Day, die-hard Red Wings fan now living in Nashville

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Music and hockey: an all-star panel, part one

Nathan-MacKinnon-3

As obsessed as I am with hockey, I was once similarly preoccupied with music. I am nowhere near as plugged in as I used to be, but I still love music and since my tastes tend to run on the obscure side, I don’t get a lot of opportunities to talk about my favorite bands within the hockey community. But over the years, I’ve found some kindred spirits in the sport and it’s always fun to talk about bands and artists that we share a mutual love for.

So in the spirit of summer fun, I hit up a few of the people who fall into that category and asked them about the current state of hockey and music. Here’s the panel:

Nathan MacKinnon: Calder Trophy-winning center for the Colorado Avalanche, hip-hop head.

Drew Stafford: Veteran Buffalo Sabres right winger, heavy metal fiend

Boyd Devereaux: Stanley Cup winner with the Detroit Red Wings. Now retired, his company Waking Sound makes hockey promo videos featuring highlights set to music. He also founded the label Elevation Recordings, which put out psyche/noise/underground artists.

Vinny Karpuszka: Arena DJ for the Pittsburgh Penguins, heavy metal enthusiast

Sunaya Sapurji: Junior hockey writer for Yahoo! Sports and its Buzzing the Net blog

Uffe Bodin: Editor in chief and writer for Hockeysverige.se.

Arun Bali: Guitarist for Saves the Day, die-hard Red Wings fan now living in Nashville

Part two of this conversation will go up tomorrow. Here we go…

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Buffalo Sabres sign Andre Benoit, ease pressure on blueline kids

Ryan Kennedy
Andre-Benoit

In a few years, the Buffalo blueline will be run by players such as Rasmus Ristolainen, Nikita Zadorov, Jake McCabe and Mark Pysyk. The hope of course, is that the Sabres will be a playoff team by then, helped up front by names such as Sam Reinhart, Zemgus Girgensons and perhaps Connor McDavid. But in order to get that organic progression, the organization must ensure that those current youngsters don’t get squashed by pressure and expectations along the way.

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Who’s going to win the turtle race for 30th – and gain a franchise player?

Columbus Blue Jackets v Carolina Hurricanes

If Connor McDavid, Jack Eichel and Noah Hanifin are the top three amigos for the 2015 NHL draft, the Buffalo Sabres, Carolina Hurricanes and Calgary Flames are their top three suitors.

Yesterday, my esteemed boss Jason Kay wrote a blog wondering if the Sabres killed their chances of winning the McDavid sweepstakes by filling out their roster with established veterans Matt Moulson, Brian Gionta, Josh Gorges, Andrej Meszaros and Cody McCormick. No need to worry, the Sabres aren’t going anywhere other than 30th place.

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Did Buffalo kill its chances of winning the Connor McDavid sweepstakes? Does it matter?

Jason Kay
Matt Moulson of the Buffalo Sabres. (Photo by Graig Abel/NHLI via Getty Images)

As you might imagine, there were some intense discussions around our office following a free agency feeding frenzy a few weeks ago that lived up to the hype. Our staffers were dissecting the moves that were and weren’t made, the winners and losers, when someone floated the Buffalo Sabres.

On July 1 they splurged, adding Josh Gorges (via trade), Brian Gionta, Matt Moulson, Andrej Meszaros and Cody McCormick. That’s nearly $19 million towards their cap this season dedicated to five new players.

But money wasn’t the issue. The Sabres had oodles of cap space. The concern was whether they had done too much and had critically wounded their chances of landing the first overall pick in 2015, most likely Connor McDavid.

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