Buzz3eed: How Conference III Can Win The Buffalo Way

by J.R.

Today, the Buffalo Sabres fired pretty much everybody, presumably because Terry Pegula was bored, and then hired as coach Ted Nolan — presumably because coaching Latvia isn’t an exhausting job and because, I guess, Peter Laviolette didn’t answer his phone.

In addition, Pegula brought in Pat LaFontaine as President of Hockey Operations, presumably because bringing back Old Heads is working so well in Colorado.

Buffalo being an example of a winning franchise, the concept of bringing in the team’s center from 1994 is something that might just catch on.

So what would happen in Conference III?

Chicago Blackhawks — Jeremy Roenick

Then: In 1993-94, Roenick scored 46 goals and had a career high 61 assists. He played in an All-Star game and he was, of course, in the midst of a run that led to him being named the fourth-best video game athlete of all time.

Now:

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Best Fit: Chicago’s in pretty good shape at coach and GM. But perhaps there’s a place for Roenick in the fan relations department, as he demonstrated with great aplomb during the ’04 lockout:

“We’re going to try to make it better for everybody, period, end of subject. And if you don’t realize that, then don’t come,” said Roenick, who spoke at a charity golf event he played in over the weekend.

“We don’t want you at the rink, we don’t want you in the stadium, we don’t want you to watch hockey,” he said Saturday at the Mario Lemieux Celebrity Invitational in suburban Pittsburgh.

“I say personally, to everybody who called us ‘spoiled,’ you guys are just jealous … we have tried so, so hard to get this game back on the ice,” Roenick said.

Colorado Avalanche – Joe Sakic

20090707__20090708_C07_SP08HKNJOETIME~p2Then: Sakic, in his first year as captain all by himself of the Quebec Nordiques, led the team in scoring with 92 points. In point of fact, Mats Sundin may have been the No. 1 center that year, but it makes the joke less funny.

Now: Sakic, uh, well, he’s actually the President of Hockey Operations for the Colorado Avalanche

Best Fit: I seriously thought he was the coach for at least 40 percent of the time that Joe Sacco (who, weirdly, is with Buffalo and kept his job, presumably because Terry Pegula has no idea who he is) was the coach of the Avs. Sakic’s fine where he is, I just felt like confessing.

Dallas Stars — Mike Modano

4970-40BkThen: Modano led the Stars in scoring, going for 50 goals as part of a 93-point season in the team’s first year in Dallas

Now: Modano is the executive advisor and alternate governor of the Stars.

Best Fit: I did not fully think this list through.

Minnesota Wild — John Young

$(KGrHqEOKjME3tI!eMJLBN9c69kYKw~~_35Then: With the North Stars having decamped for Big D, the pro hockey void in Minnesota was filled by the Minnesota Moose (who then filled the void left by the Jets in Winnipeg and are in now in St. John’s, so presumably Newfoundland will be added to Conference III territory next). Among the leaders of that team was John Young (who also played some RHI). Young went for 17 goals and 32 assists for the Moose.

Now: Should not have picked someone with a common name. There are lots of John Youngs out there.

Best Fit: As Mike Yeo has demonstrated, anybody can be a successful coach with the Wild, so long as they are willing to play Ryan Suter 45 or 46 minutes a night. John Young should do that.

Nashville Predators —Aigars Cipruss

4951719_ORIGINAL_1359342368.jpgThen: Before the Predators, there were the Knights of the ECHL. Their legacy occasionally manifests itself at Bridgestone Arena when some clutch of dingbats feel the need to scream out “KNIGHTS!” during the anthem in the line “…gave proof through the…” You get the idea. Anyway, in 1994-95, Aigars Cipruss scored 26 goals and had 43 assists as a 22-year-old for the minor-league team.

Now: Cipruss is still playing for HK Ozolnieki/Monarhs of the Latvian Virsliga and has appeared numerous times for Latvia in international competition. There’s so much Latvia content in this post, it will be cross-posted to my as-yet-uncreated site focusing on Latvian hockey: KasparsBlogaviņš dot com.

Best Fit: Judging by the amount of Latvian content in today’s post, presumably Latvianess is the newest market inefficiency. An inside man could help. The Predators should send Paul Fenton on an extended, no-cell-phone trip to track down Cipruss until this whole change-your-GM thing is over in the NHL.

St. Louis Blues — Craig Janney

Then: Janney almost went for an assist per game in 1993-94 (he had 68 in 69 games to go with 16 goals. He was also in the middle of his run as Ginger on Guiding Light.

Now: Janney is doing some announcing on NESN for Hockey East.

Best Fit: The Blues should hire him to be The Jackal:

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Winnipeg Jets — Alexei Zhamnov

9054706Then: Zhamnov had a helluva run in the mid-90s: 71 points in 61 games in 93-94, 65 in 48 in 94-95 (including five goals in one game!).

Now: He’s currently the GM of the KHL’s HC Vityaz and Logan Pyett is on that team.

Best Fit: See ya, Chevy.

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