Category: NHL Stories

Stories on current issues, events, players and management of the National Hockey League.

SABRES SPECIAL MOMENTS

Throughout my NHL career as a Pro Goaltender, coach and scout, I lived through many events which created special memories. The Buffalo Sabres are among the teams with some memorable events. Here are some of them: 

       The Buffalo Sabres came in the NHL as an expansion team in 1970. The Memorial Auditorium, a refurbished old building, was a really special place to play. The smaller ice surface and the Sabres Theme Song were very unique. The original NHL game played in the “AUD” was against the Montreal Canadiens. This event set up my first encounter with the Sabres. As the starting goalie in that special game and recorded MY FIRST NHL SHUTOUT. I had 15 shots in the game. . . all scoring chances. . .of course.  

     In 1972 the Atlanta Flames were one of two expansion teams in the NHL. The Flames made me their first overall choice in the expansion draft which was held in Montreal. Our home arena in Atlanta was called the Omni. I played there for six seasons which also brings back many memories. Who you think the first opponent was for the first NHL game ever played in the Omni? You guessed it… It was the Buffalo Sabres. . . and yes. . .  I played in that game which ended in a 1-1 tie.  

      On February 21, 1974, the Buffalo Sabres lost one of their best defenseman in a tragic accident. Following a game in Toronto, Tim Horton was given permission to drive back to Buffalo and was involved in a deadly car accident. The very next game the Sabres played, was against the Atlanta Flames. I did not play in that game but, from the player’s bench, I witnessed one of the saddest and most emotional event of my career, watching big, tough hockey players with tears running down their cheeks during the National Anthem. I don’t recall who won the game. It seemed irrelevant at the time.  

      In 1977, the city of Buffalo suffered an epic, massive snow storm. The Atlanta Flames, played in Buffalo the night before the storm began. We were able to leave on an early flight the next morning. We were told that our plane was one of the last one to leave the airport. Some reporters assigned to our team and some team personnel had reservations later in the day. They were stuck in Buffalo for 3 days.  

      In the summer of 1979, I was traded from the St-Louis Blues to the Philadelphia Flyers. When we lost our second game of the season to the Atlanta Flames, little did we know that, the very next game, we would begin a journey never accomplished before and create a record which still stands today. We never lost another game until January 7, 1980, a total of 35 games without a loss. The 35th game was against the Buffalo Sabres. My partner in goal, Peete Peters started the game even though he had an upset stomach. With just over 5 minutes to go in the game and leading 3-2, Peete became ill and vomited all over the goalie crease. I had to come in the game and play in the soiled crease to close out the game. We scored a goal and made it 4-2 with little time left. In the waning seconds of the game, the Sabres came very close to scoring a 3rd goal with their goalie pulled. The reason I mention this is because, if they had scored, the victory would have been recorded to me instead of to Peete. The rule being that the goalie of record is the one who is in goal when the winning goal is scored. The win against the Sabres was the end of our wonderful journey and our last victory of the “Streak”. 

     In 1982, I became a free agent at the age of 34. I had difficulty finding a team to play for. When September came, I still didn’t have a job. I decided to call Scotty Bowman who was the General Manager for the Buffalo Sabres. I had played for him in Montreal and I had met Scotty in a coaching symposium in Finland during the off season and he knew of my interest to coach. He offered me a Player/Assistant coach position for their farm team in Rochester. Two weeks later, I was in Rochester working with Mike Keenan as his assistant and goalie. (more stories to tell here) We ended up winning the Calder Cup and I also played a few games with the Sabres. One game particular comes to mind. One of the last games of the season was in New Jersey. I hadn’t played in about 2 weeks and I was a little stale. We won the game by a “field goal” I think. The score doesn’t really matter but I do know that it was a busy game. I had over 40 shots, at least it felt like it. After the game, we had to ride the bus to LaGuardia from New Jersey. It felt like we drove for hours as I sat in the inside seat, on a full bus and I started to cramp up. I had experienced cramps before but never as severe as that night. The trip from Newark to LaGuardia seemed to take forever.  

   Finally, as an active member of the Sabres Alumni, I was invited to the Sabres 40th anniversary celebration recently. It was quite an event. The owner, Terry Pegula and his wife Kim, welcome all Sabres Alumni, whether they played one game or a thousand games, with the same enthusiasm. Even though I live about 4 hours away, I attend several fund-raising events organized by the Alumni. The golf tournament, the fishing expedition and the wine tasting events are some of my favorite fund raisers. The Sabres Alumni are a great group, they raise a lot of money for charity and I enjoy the camaraderie every time I participate in any of the events. I feel right at home there. Maybe the stories involving the Buffalo Sabres are not over yet and more will be written…

 HAVE A GREAT HOCKEY DAY!

PHIL MYRE

 

 

Technology: Part of Scouting

Technology is now an important part of Sports. Just look at the modern golf clubs, the baseball bats and the hockey sticks, just to skim the surface. Equipment is much stronger yet lighter and, in some cases more protective. It was inevitable that technology would become a part of scouting and recruiting as well.

Technology in sports was always attractive to me. In 1985, as an assistant coach with the Los Angeles Kings, I was a pioneer in using technology in the NHL. I worked with a computer programmer in creating a program which would record live statistics, including time on ice. It had never been done before. We succeeded but it was a long and difficult process based on what computers could do at that time.

Well, after many years, I’m back, and now working with HOCKEY TECH, a Company who deals with data, statistics and information.

I recently accepted to become Product Development Coordinator with Hockey Tech and .U.S. Head Scout with ISS (International Scouting Service) a subsidiary of HOCKEY TECH.

HOCKEY TECH was formed when Stu Seigel, a former owner of the Florida Panthers, purchased RINKNET and joined it with ISS and later on with NEXT TESTING

What a great insight! Stu had a vision and the merging of all three Companies is very compatible and offers a great service.

RINKNET provides the scouting software for the NHL. It is the “Scouts’ Bible”. I used it for many years as an NHL Pro Scout. Other subscribers include the Canadian Hockey League and the United States Hockey League. Many NCAA teams, agents and other leagues use RinkNet as their primary source of information for anything to do with hockey and lets scouts write their reports in a user friendly fashion.

ISS complements Rinknet by adding scouting information to the already existing data. We have over 40 scouts scanning North America and Europe providing reports and information on hockey players. We provide priority lists for the NHL draft, CHL drafts, USHL drafts etc..in addition to thousands of scouting reports which managers and scouts can refer to.

For the first time this year, we are producing a college free agent and CHL overage list to help minor Professional league teams in their recruiting and scouting.

NEXT TESTING adds to the services that HOCKEY TECH provides. Young players can get tested with on ice computerized tests and several off ice tests to add to their portfolio of data. We will be running combines across North America to test players. Their data will be included into the RinkNet basin of information viewed by more than 4,000 scouts and managers across North America and Europe. They will be able to compare their “numbers” with others of the same age group who go through the tests.

I’m very excited to be a part of this growing industry, one that provides great services to everybody in the Hockey World!

HAVE A GREAT HOCKEY DAY
PHIL MYRE
www.philmyretalkshockey.com

RUSSIANS FAILED TO BECOME A TEAM!

An elite athlete is often best judged on how he or she reacts to adversity. A fall or a loss doesn’t define the competitor or a team. How they react after a fall determines their real value.
The Russian Hockey team is one example of the failure to use adversity as a motivator in the 2014 Olympics.
Yes, they were the victim of a very bad call against the Americans in the preliminary round in their 3-2 shoot-out defeat. They had taken the lead late in the game to see their goal turned back because the net was off its moorings. It was a good goal, it should have been a good goal but it wasn’t, based on international rules. To make matters worse, Americans goalie Jonathan Quick deliberately pushed the net off when he moved from his right to his left and should have been called for a delay of game penalty. There’s no doubt that Quick dislodged the net deliberately with his left arm.
The Soviets had a valid reason to be angry and complain of unfairness. The outcome of that game and of the rest of the tournament could have been much different. But Sports Competitions are not always fair. There are lots of times when you need to bite the bullet and move on.
The Russians never became a team in these Olympic Competitions. Stacked with many individual highly skilled Stars, they failed to rally around their adversity and their home advantage. Was there too much pressure to perform in front of their fans and Countrymen?
Olympian medalists perform under tremendous pressure. They compete against the best in the world and win or lose by fractions of seconds or points. The stakes are high and those who raise their performance regardless of what happens around them, fair or not, are those who proudly stand on the podium.
The Russian National Hockey team must blame themselves. They fell but didn’t get up ready to fight as a team.
HAVE A GREAT HOCKEY DAY!
PHIL MYRE (www.philmyretalkshockey.com)

VLADISLAV TRETIAK A FRIEND AND STAR!

Summit Series Canada against the Soviet Union. Goalie Vladislav Tretiak played an important role.

NHL OUTDOOR GAMES: WHAT’S NEXT?

Hey! Hockey Fans! Stop complaining about the cold weather or the Polar Vortex…if we didn’t have cold winters, we wouldn’t have HOCKEY! EY!
We wouldn’t have Outdoor Hockey Games either…Ooops!
That’s not completely true is it?
AN OUTDOOR HOCKEY GAME IN CALIFORNIA…!
REALLY!
Who could have predicted the popularity of the NHL outdoor games and that the NHL would schedule 6 REGULAR SEASON OUTDOOR GAMES in the 2013-14 season. This past week alone, as part of the “Stadium Series”, there were 3 such games in 5 days; including two games at the legendary Yankee Stadium, in New York and an OUTDOOR GAME IN CALIFORNIA at the Dodger Stadium, in Los Angeles. REALLY!!!

Honestly, I was one of many who didn’t believe that they could pull it off in California!

Was the National Hockey League going overboard? Were they pushing the envelope a little too far? There were many possible uncontrollable destructive factors to consider: The sun, the rain, the humidity, the heat… It could be disastrous if the ice conditions would force a cancellation. And what about fan interest? Would Californians have any interest in an outdoor hockey game?

Well, “chapeau” to the NHL. The “star studded” event was attended by 54,099 fans and viewed on TV by millions. The ice and the hockey conditions were fine. It was awesome! Wayne Gretzky, dropping the ceremonial face off was a nice touch and KISS as entertainment was… well …You can’t win’em all…!

Did you know that large scale outdoor hockey games are not such a novel idea after all? Some Olympic games were played outdoors in the early 1900’s. The 1957 gold medal game between the Soviet Union and Sweden at the Lenin Stadium in Moscow attracted approximately 55,000 fans, a number that stood as a record for more than 40 years
Since 2001, there have been 107 outdoor hockey games in North America and Europe. You can look up the list of games at this website: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_outdoor_ice_hockey_games
(Wikipedia is my new BFF)

The first NHL experiment with outdoor games was in Edmonton in 2003. The “Heritage Classic” featured the Oilers and the Montreal Canadiens. It was a natural. Two Canadian teams playing their National sport in its natural settings. It was a “hit”. Even though the weather was -2F, hockey fans loved it and the players embraced the event.

In 2008, the yearly “Winter Classic” was born in snowy Buffalo when the Sabres played a game against the Pittsburgh Penguins at Ralph Wilson Stadium. It was followed with games at Wrigley Field, in Chicago, Fenway Park, in Boston, Heinz Field, in Pittsburgh and Citizens Bank Park, in Philadelphia.

Detroit had two years because of the NHL lockout, to prepare for the next event at the Michigan Stadium, in Ann Arbor, Michigan where 105,491 fans attended.

My wife, Nicole and I attended the Winter Classic games in Chicago and in Ann Arbor. We had a great time at both events. I missed some of the games’ action because I wanted to experience the moment. Fans parading in their team’s colors ignoring the elements, the spirited atmosphere and the overall spectacle that the NHL provided are forever engraved as a great memory.

Sports Illustrated columnist Dan Shaughnessy said of the Winter Classic, “Now hockey owns New Year’s Day the way baseball owns the Fourth of July and football owns Thanksgiving.”

SO WHAT’S NEXT?

The NHL must keep it fresh and entertaining for their fans. Avoid complacency and over saturating the market.

WHAT ABOUT NHL OUTDOOR GAMES IN EUROPE? Why not? Possibilities are now endless…What about Florida???

…and for the sake of the more “mature fans”, what about a group like the EAGLES as entertainment? KISS was a little over the top…!

HAVE A GREAT HOCKEY DAY!
PHIL MYRE