Should Nic Bergfors be checking his head for goat horns?

Last night, Puck Daddy’s Greg Wyshynski posted up his list of “goats” for all 30 teams. These, of course, are the players that most should wear the blame for whatever failures have fallen upon their respective teams. Now, all 30 teams were listed here…even teams like Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Detroit and Vancouver…so Wysh feels even teams enjoying highly successful seasons have a goat somewhere on their roster chewing up stats sheets.

Do you see any horns on nic Bergfors? No? I don't either (AP Photo/John Amis)

Do you see any horns on nic Bergfors? No? I don't either (AP Photo/John Amis)

For the Atlanta Thrashers, the “honor” goes to forward Nic Bergfors, the first round pick by the New Jersey Devils in the 2005 draft. The goat horns were strapped on him despite the fact he’s currently on a four-game points streak, is on pace for right at the same points production as last season and is an EVEN player after 34 games. Last year he was a -10.

Here’s what Wyshynski says about Bergfors:

“There are signs of life thanks to a 4-game point streak in 2011, but the last three months of 2010 were the nadir of his young pro career. He scored two goals from Nov. 14 through New Year’s Eve, suffering through the indignity of several healthy scratches in November.”

While I can see where Wysh is coming from, I personally would have a tough time naming Bergfors has the Thrashers’ goat so far this season. Honestly, I would be hard pressed to use the term “goat” for anyone on this team thus far… save maybe two players.

Ben Eager would be someone who might just deserves the goat title before Bergfors does. Like Nic, Eager has also had to deal with “the indignity of several healthy scratches” in the first half of the season. However, the last time we saw him in a Thrashers uniform, he was skating off the ice of Philips Arena after taking a match penalty for sucker-punching Toronto’s Colby Armstrong. The Maple Leafs proceeded to drop four goals on us during the ensuing five-minute power play. In all, they scored five goals on the Thrashers stemming from Eager’s penalties.

Which Thrasher is most deserving of the "goat" label?

  • Nic Bergfors (2%, 5 Votes)
  • Ben Eager (50%, 102 Votes)
  • Chris Mason (28%, 56 Votes)
  • Someone else (11%, 23 Votes)
  • No goats on this Thrashers team (9%, 17 Votes)

Total Voters: 203

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Some would make the point Ben Eager all but single-handedly cost the Thrashers that game. I don’t know if that is entirely true or not…but is there any single game in which it could even logically be argued that Bergfors actions cost the team a game?

I don’t think so.

Ben Eager also has taken far too many penalties this season. He leads the team with 77 PIM though he’s played in but 34 games. Dustin Byfuglien is second in that stat column with 45, but Big Buff has suited up for all 45 games so far.

Another Thrasher that could possible wear the goat label around his neck is Chris Mason. The free agent signing has been quite the disappointment this season, going 7-7-2 with a 3.81 GAA and .891 SV%. Mason is 1-4-1 in his last six starts. Since the 4-2 win in San Jose last October 16, the only time Mason has allowed fewer than 3 goals in a game was during a 3-2 shootout loss to Carolina last month.

Mason did a good job helping to fill the gap between Ondrej Pavelec’s opening night fainting spell and when he could return to the net, but those overall numbers are clearly indicative of his struggles so far during this 2010-11 season.

Maybe Eager and Mason don’t deserve the “goat” label on this Thrashers roster. However, I certainly don’t think Bergfors does either.

150 comments Add your comment

Red Light

January 13th, 2011
3:10 pm

Smoothie: Reasoner was dealt for journeyman AHL’er Jeff Taffe, who was sent to Rockford. Chicago had to shed his meager salary as well.

Smoothie

January 13th, 2011
3:10 pm

Looks like the Thrashers are 15 – 14 – 5 when Eager’s in the lineup as opposed to 7 – 2 – 2 when he’s in the pressbox. HIEVAH, he was in the lineup during the entirety of the 6-game win streak and was a +5 during that stretch. Out of 34 games, he’s only had 6 minus games, only three of which were worse than a -1. Talk about your scape goat!! He just shouldn’t be playing against Washington and Pittsburgh on the road, but alas, we have no more road contests against those teams. Well, I reckon he’ll get eaten alive if allowed to play @ Philly, NYR or Boston.

Smoothie

January 13th, 2011
3:22 pm

http://sports.yahoo.com/nhl/players/3576

Anyone remember this guy from the December 10th loss to the Avs?? I think we’d be silly to pass on him if he’s available to us on waivers. His speed would be great for our PK and his speed a wonderful complementary piece in Rammer’s hard-charging F/C system. I say why not? Bring ‘im on board and let him loose like Tony Stewart!!

Red Light

January 13th, 2011
3:24 pm

Smoothie: I know you like Peverley, so does he suck just because he has a horrible minus rating? Of course not, and that doesn’t mean Eager is fine and dandy just because he has a plus rating! What else has he done?

ZAvalanche

January 13th, 2011
3:34 pm

@ Smoothie, Tanguay is definitely not worth it. He is a skill player but very weak on the puck in physical situations. Yeah, he has had some good seasons but when it comes to the playoffs the play gets a lot harder and he would be knocked off the puck every time. And really, do we want a team that plays to just get to the playoffs or win some games? Picking up a power forward or a stay-at-home D is a way better way to go.

@RedLight No, Pevs doesn’t suck because of his +/-. Rather, I think he is pretty good, just developing and his rating is largely due to his ice time and special teams time. He does need to work on his defensive zone play though.

Smoothie

January 13th, 2011
3:38 pm

No, Peverley doesn’t suck, but why don’t you call someone else out for once on this blog? You know my reasoning is sound. He has 6 minus games in 34…how is he THAT much of a liability. Peverley’s made his fair share of gaffes and bad passes. Antro’s been a shell of himself. Burmi’s in love with passing backwards at his own blueline and NZ, Bergy doesn’t skate hard, Thorby’s got hands of stone, Ladd has made plenty of passes he probably regrets, Kaner never passes etc etc. There are plenty of issues with this team and my biggest point is that Eager is far from the biggest “goat” on this team when you break it down. The biggest problem w/r/t Eager has been asking him to play on the 3rd line rather than the 4th. He’s not skilled enough to be a 3rd liner on a consistent basis. And I can give you plenty of reasons why Peverley is a bigger minus than he should be, but I think you know the answer to that.

Red Light

January 13th, 2011
3:41 pm

I call you out, because you enjoy the Limelight! LOL

Smoothie

January 13th, 2011
3:57 pm

Ha! Hardly! LOL I’m really just bored most of the time and have lots to “say”, but I understand where you’re coming from. ;-) Just pick on some of the other folks from time to time to keep the cosmic order of the Thrashers universe in balance. :cool”

Red Light

January 13th, 2011
4:06 pm

Ok Smoothie, how about this?

I don’t agree with anything Cornbread posts. :)

Fan from Carolina

January 13th, 2011
4:08 pm

I agree with ZAvalanche and also feel Tanguay is not someone to pick up. He thrived in the West and absolutely stunk with the Lightning last year in the East. I mean he did nothing for the Lightning last year and it wasn’t Tocchet’s fault. He was given top line assignments and did zip. He goes back West and lights it up again for the Flames. Not worth the gamble if his style of play is not conducive to this conference. That may be the case.

Smoothie

January 13th, 2011
4:22 pm

LOL, there you go big guy! Fair and balanced!

I know Tanguay is a reach, but he hasn’t been terrible defensively and can hold his own at both ends judging by his middling +/- over the last couple of years. Yeah, he’s not scoring at the same clip he used to, but his 10 goals would look pretty good in our lineup along with the rest of our 10 goal guys on pace to score 20. However, there really is no difference b/w Bergy and Tanguay when it comes to style of play. Obviously Bergy has a lot more upside and I’d rather hold onto him, but if I can get a D-man the caliber of Seabrook, sianorah Nicklas!

ZAvalanche

January 13th, 2011
4:30 pm

LOL @ Smoothie! I agree on Eager, he just woke up on the wrong side of the bed that day. I really don’t there is actually a lot of calling out to do with the thrash. They had the busiest first half of the season of any team in the league and it showed – they have been beat tired lately. I, like most of the posters here, have seen a lot of hockey over the years and I think this team has promise – serious promise. In fact more promise than they had when they rode The Moose to the playoffs. Get a serious D-man or power forward – Tanguay is neither of those (BTW, thanks for agreeing Fan from Carolina). If you spend it, they will come. Send some of the really young guys who aren’t getting much time to the minors to help develop them and make some trades to get some top line talent.

Though I despise the Red Wings, they have a formula for building an awesome team year after year, follow that formula.

Red Light

January 13th, 2011
4:47 pm

Well, since you brought it up ZAvalanche, the Wings succeed despite having little success in drafting players lately!!!

Beginning with the 2006 draft (I know it’s a bit early to determine how they will do with the last 3-4 classes but…), the Wings have had only two draftees to play for them, Jan Mursak and Tomas Tatar, for a total of 13 games so far.

From 1998 to 2005 however, they drafted Datsyuk, Jiri Fischer, Zetterberg, Kronwall, Kopecky, Ericsson, Meech, Filpulla, Fleischmann, Hudler, Quincey, Howard, Franzen, Kindl and Helm.

Cornbread

January 13th, 2011
5:15 pm

Red Light I guess that includes not agreeing with me the times I’ve commented positively on your own blog posts.

DaveR

January 13th, 2011
5:37 pm

Wyshyski’s “Goats” article is so off-base. He gave the NY Devils’ goat-horns to Brodeur, who is having a bad year in the waning part of a glorious career — But he passed up the biggest Goat of the Entire NHL this season — and perhaps of all time: Ilya Kovalchuk.

And his choice of Bergfors as Atlanta’s “goat” is also galling. The main thing that has suppressed bergy’s stats this season has been the coach’s refusal to put him in the lineup, and his failure to give good ice time to the kid when he is in the lineup. Whenever he has been given a decent chance to perform, Bergfors has been a steady and skilled point-producer.

AtlFlamesFan

January 13th, 2011
5:45 pm

Young Bogey has made some bad plays, but not to the level of criticism that he receives here. I see Sopel, Buff, et al make defensive blunders, but they do not seem to light up the board like Bogey’s. Unwarrented, IMHO.
Mason. His 2-year $1.85M/year for 2 years obviously has not worked out. Meanwhile, we cut the Moose loose, who is collecting $1.5M from NJ.

Cornbread

January 13th, 2011
5:47 pm

I’m not surprised to see so many calling out Bogosian as the team’s goat. But, I think he is the team’s biggest scapegoat of the season. He’s playing better this year all while playing big minutes and any little mistake – or even none at all – are magnified and heavily criticised

My biggest disappointment for the year, as I’ve said before, has been Eager. I really expected a little better effort and improved numbers from a Stanley Cup Champion in his new and bigger role on the Thrashers. I thought 10+ goals and 10+ assists were very doable playing third line like minutes on an offensive oriented team. Not so much now. Eric Boulton is a better hockey player.

A close runner-up is indeed Bergfors. He has had drama issues all year. He’s too soft, doesn’t shoot enough, check enough, or get to the dirty part of the slot enough. He has appeared at many times to be uncoachable. But, I must say that he is once again starting to show some positive signs of change, unlike Eager. Let’s hope he doesn’t again slip back into his old disappearing soft Swede version.

Smoothie

January 13th, 2011
6:27 pm

Its not so much that Bogosian is thje biggest goat, but rather his lack of overall progress in reading the game and being able to rely on instincts when playing the position. As we’re seeing now, Zach really benefitted from playing with Enstrom his first year after getting some close mentoring from Mathieu Schneider. But I recall Schneidy taking way too many calculated risks before Zach broke his leg thus leaving him out to dry too often considering his lack of inexperience. He looked great in the 2nd half because a) he was fresh and b) Toby let him do his thing without having to worry about the consequences as Toby is so smart and savvy he was often there to cover, much like he does for Buff who has had some real brainfart moments. Anyway, Zach struggled last year as most sophomore D-men do and it didn’t help that he was asked to play with so many different defensive partners. This year he plays with a cat who is a skilled, finesse d-man who is better with the puck on his stick. But Johnny O is prolly the quietest of our 7 d-men and I wonder if the two of them just haven’t found the same chemistry of a Buff/Toby pairing or Sopes/Hainsey who see and play the game the same way. Hainsey is a cocky son of a gun and prolly was ill-suited for the coddling type of mentorship that a young d-man requires. Zach has a lot of skill offensively and is very good moving up the ice with the puck on his stick. But his anticipation of the developing play is obviously lacking and as Rammer said in C-Viv’s blog, he’s guilty of thinking too much on the ice. He can improve and evolve into a solid d-man but the 2nd pairing is the weakest link and needs to be addressed thru trade or call-up.

razorneck13

January 13th, 2011
6:30 pm

Lazy armchair reclined analysis and punditry should be left to the people who don’t get paid for knowledgeable opinions, so I hope this guy isn’t making his living off crap like this. I wonder how many other players he unjustly slated in the press with this cutsie goat horns schtick. My guess is more than just Bergfors.

I make no secret that I’m fond of Bergfors, I think the kid’s got Moxie…he’s an asset, period. How many times has he kept us in games this year? He’s got one game winner and probably several equalizers thus far, not bad. Hell, he’s been scratched (mind-numbingly) for about 10 games and skates under 15 minutes a game. I don’t blame the kid for the organization’s shake up this year, but I’m sure it has a lot to do with the fact he’s not on pace to hit about 30 goals.

Seriously, plenty other guys to pick on. Wyshnyski’s opinion was not known by me prior to this and I don’t plan on changing that after this either.

A27

January 13th, 2011
6:55 pm

Once a guy is a bad dude in the lockeroom…(Ben Eager) he is the Goat and has to go. Sorry Smoothie dont mean to sound like a jerk.

Rawhide

January 13th, 2011
7:06 pm

DaveR – I totally agree with you regarding Kovalchuk being the Devils’ “goat”. Marty the Magnificent is not their problem up there. Maybe kovy isn’t 100% their problem, but his numbers vs. what they went through to re-sign him make him the better candidate to wear the goat horns, IMHO.

rob

January 13th, 2011
7:12 pm

You could put Bergfors up as the goat for the fact that his seeming unwillingness to play Ransey’s game led to his benching, and his continuing lack of willingness continued it. The fact that he has come around, seems to have a good jump to his game, and has been in the corners and skating back recently all point to a desire to play hockey and be taught. The lack of this early may have led to us having to rely on guys not as skilled (Stapleton, Modin, Eager, Stewart) but who wanted to play the game Ramsey wants, to the detriment of the team because of his lack of desire to play a TEAM concept. It seems all of this is water under the bridge, but at the same time, I can’t help but think what it would have been if he had put the effort in earlier. On another note I want him in the next shootout, that shot has to be money! I like the way things look, I would like them better with more Machecek(?) and other Wolves getting time….Eager may have given them that chance but I want someone other than Stapleton to get that chance…we need size. Kind of like the idea of giving Mason a breather to clear his mind down there and refocus, I like his attitude and think he kickstarted this season for us and don’t want to give up on him. I think he brings just as much to the table as Moose did.

razorneck13

January 13th, 2011
7:39 pm

Not trying to get into it with anyone, but I notice that there’s usually talk of Bergie not fitting into Rammer’s system when we’re talking all things Bergie. I get the rationale, but does anyone really believe that Burmi (45 games played) fits in more than Bergie (34 games played)? Apples and oranges, yeah, different positions and such, I know. Anywho… Can anybody justify that kind of obvious favoritism (past?) based purely off of their actions on the ice?

Before anybody else says it, yes Burmi is feistier. Agreed, but he’s also a RAGDOLL, so…(shrugs)

Runner

January 13th, 2011
7:49 pm

What is all of this about Eager not making friends in the locker room? It seems wrong to judge him on that point based on what someone told someone. I realize that an inside source gave the information but it just seems like that’s been over exaggerated. Most of the time fall-outs in business come down to “I just don’t like that guy”, and I think that’s what’s going on here with Eager and Ramsey.

Smoothie

January 13th, 2011
7:59 pm

No offense taken A27! I don’t know why y’all think I care that much about Eager. He isn’t a vital cog. He may have cost us a couple of games, but look back to the games he’s committed costly turnoversn they were usually games in which we also gave up 4, 5 and 6 goals. Usually that sort of losing effort is a total team effort. So if you’re gonna name a goat, then you have to call out a player who plays a lot more minutes as well as a much more vital role. Like it or not, Bergy will always be intrinsically linked to Kovy as his “replacement”. Perhaps that went to his head but it looks like he’s finally got his head screwed on straight. But if you’re gonna name a goat, or most disappointing player, I think it’s a cop-out to name a guy like Eager who was / is a 4th liner that might give you 10 goals in a season if things go well. He was a throw-in in the Dusty Buff deal so he shouldn’t even be in this conversation even if he should be traded. Getting rid of Eager isn’t gonna fix our biggest problems. But we can benefit from a solidified top 4 defense, better back-up goaltending and more timely scoring / consistent effort from the likes of Antropov, Bergfors and even Peverley, who plays hard but doesn’t always produce the desired results. Hell, Andre Ladd has been miserable for the last couple of weeks and has been more of a goat than Eager!

rob

January 13th, 2011
8:02 pm

Seeing the length Burmi went to to get to where the team wanted him, I would see him continue it this off season too and getting only better. I also think that Bergfors has seen the light too. He has played much better after getting another shot, and seems happy again. Of course that is all just conjecture, which is all most of us have on here. Speaking of conjecture, can we conjecture Modin, Stapleton, and Eager away and keep Machecek(sp)

Smoothie

January 13th, 2011
8:24 pm

rob – AMEN! Dispense with the nonsense and just keep Spence! :-)

Runner

January 13th, 2011
8:34 pm

Trade, trade, trade…I hate to give up the kind of guys who give their all in the moment and it seems like those are always the ones people want to trade – they may be tough to deal with but they bring an X factor unlike a Mike Richards or other captains I won’t mention (cough) who are technically “great” but leave me uninspired.

Eager would be happy to be traded back to Chicago where his girlfriend is, but I wish he could turn things around here. I believe it’s not so much his locker room issues but his personal life shenanigans that Ramsey dislikes.
I’m feeling like he’s been singled out because he’s an easy target. Like the ugly girl who can’t find a date for the prom. Let’s get more creative shall we? Apparently the Thrashers staff can do no wrong…

Curly

January 13th, 2011
8:49 pm

The top three “Goats” for the first half of the 2010-2011 season:
1) Nick Antropov – coming nowhere close to his season last year. Almost an anti-thesis to last year’s performance (hip surgery or not).
2) Zack Bogosian – Appears to be slipping significantly in his development. Stands around a lot in the defensive zone and looks lost.
3) Ben Eager – for the reasons mentioned by others. Appears to be undisciplined in a Ramsey disciplined system.

Curly

January 13th, 2011
8:59 pm

A trade in the works? How about Bogosian, Eager and Bergfors to the Blackhawks for Seabrook and Bolland?

I wouldn’t mind a deal involving Dustin Penner though.

glovesave29

January 13th, 2011
9:22 pm

Bogo catches grief here because he is betraying his talents. Sure, everyone on the team is human and makes mistakes, but if you make the error while working your tail off, that player tends to get a pass from the fans. When your errors are mental, and due to a lack of competitive fire – you deserve the abuse you get. Bogo needs to stop being Mike Vick (all talent, no drive) and become Matt Ryan (work, study, work, study…).

How can you give any negatives against Antro? Hip surgery is MAJOR. It affects everything you do. I give the guy total props for showing up and giving it the effort he does.

Tony C

January 13th, 2011
11:07 pm

This team is built as a team concept, so it follows that everybody’s the goat, everybody’s the hero

Hockey Biltong

January 14th, 2011
1:35 am

Thank God for Friday……

ZAvalanche

January 14th, 2011
1:58 am

I love Biltong – a very tasty treat.

ZAvalanche

January 14th, 2011
1:59 am

And I mean the jerkey-like cured product.

World Be Free

January 14th, 2011
6:08 am

Bergie needs a chance, which is not what he’s recvd so far this season with the Thrashers. How could this guy give Brodeur the horns in NJ and avoid Kovy? Koval-joke should have recvd the horns for the entire league.

Alan R.

January 14th, 2011
7:25 am

The main thing that has suppressed bergy’s stats this season has been the coach’s refusal to put him in the lineup

If you can’t understand why he was held out of the lineup, then your criticisms are moot.

Bergfors wasn’t playing the system. He wasn’t being anywhere close to physical. Stapleton is more physical than Bergfors, even now, but at least now Bergie will go in for a hit every so often. He did not do this at the beginning of the season. He did not play the system. He was merely going through the motions, and hoping no one would notice.

It seems apparent that a lot of people didn’t notice, fans included. However, I know a few fans here did notice, and as evidenced, so did the coaching staff.

Yes, I know people love Bergfors. He’s a great player. He just needs to not slack off. He needs to be more physical. He needs to continue playing the system. Yeah, some people will say “you never hold out a player like Bergfors because of what he can do on the ice.” Me? I disagree. Even your best players need to be sent a message, if they’re not performing up to par. I know many won’t agree, but it is what it is.

World Be Free

January 14th, 2011
8:35 am

Alan r-Bergie is who he is, no different than before he came here. If we knew that and that was not good enough, then why trade for him? None of his game is a mystery to anyone.

TrueBlue

January 14th, 2011
8:39 am

Thank God some of you people aren’t the GM…most of these trade proposals are ridiculous.

jimbo

January 14th, 2011
9:08 am

Bergfors seems to have responded well after spending time in the press box. Eager comes back and continues his “bone head” plays. While it’s nice to have some muscle around, he doesn’t seem to add anything offensively and uses his muscle at the wrong time. For the Bogosian Bashers, he’s a young kid who hasn’t experienced enough to instinctively do the right thing. He’s got good skills and will get there. Sounds like Ramsey is trying to do it right with him by pusing the “relax and let your instincts take over” theme. He got thrown into NHL action early and it is taking some time to adapt. Tougher on D-Men than forwards because more of their lapses lead to goals. He’ll be a real good one over time.

Red Light

January 14th, 2011
9:20 am

I was only kidding Cornbread. I do enjoy reading what you post because from reading your posts, I know that you know hockey. Sorry if my cynicism wasn’t evident.

Zoomo

January 14th, 2011
9:34 am

Let’s hope the Flyers are gassed after that wild game last night.

Spud Webb

January 14th, 2011
9:35 am

I’ve figured out who a giant asset would be for the thrashers, face off champion Paul Guasted. Dude wins face off after face off, I know that when we’re in the playoffs and up 3-2, goalies pulled, face off in our zone with say 20 seconds left….THAT GUY will win the draw for us!
I was watching him last night….stud face off guy. Lets get him, RL, he is a bit slow footed, see cormier, but he’s tough and has some skills, cheap and 2 more years (i believe) on his contract.

Red Light

January 14th, 2011
9:45 am

Runner: Maybe this will inspire you about Mike Richards?

He’s one of two guys in the entire league, who have blocked 60+ shots in a season, had more than 100+ hits, had 25+ goals and 25+ assists and a plus rating during any one season since 2005-06. He is on pace to do it again this season, along with Ryan Kesler of the Canucks. Mike Fisher of Ottawa is the only other player in the league to do it (last year).

Richards’ numbers during the season in which he accomplished the feat (2008-09) were 147 hits, 90 blocked shots, 30 goals, 50 assists and +22 rating. He contributes in all aspects of the game, which is most captain-like in my view.

Alan R.

January 14th, 2011
9:49 am

WBF – We got him because despite his flaws, he can help us. He just needed a bit of direction. As Jimbo stated, Bergfors has responded well after spending time in the press box.

All Bergfors needs is a bit of direction, and shown the way we want him to play in our system.

Red Light

January 14th, 2011
9:52 am

The numbers above are related to forwards and don’t include defensemen. Sorry for omitting that.

Spud: Gaustad is a character too, and is one of the guys who keeps the Sabres dressing room loose (and it’s very dry). He hits, is good in the faceoff circle but not sure he is a huge upgrade over Slater except for size. Slater’s faceoff numbers are actually on par or better than Gaustad’s.

Get The Puck Out

January 14th, 2011
9:52 am

Everyone just be careful if going to the game tonight. Unless you are wearing steel cleats or ice skates the ice is SUPER slick. I live about one hour north of Atlanta and i still have 5 inches of snow and ice on my driveway!! Don’t want any Thrash fans watching from a hospital bed!! GO THRASHERS!!

TrueBlue

January 14th, 2011
9:54 am

I think the goat of the season should be all the “fans” that don’t even know how to spell the coaches name right….It is RamsAy…with an “a”. It is really not that hard of a concept. If you can’t spell it right, just say “coach” or “rammer” or “the guy behind the bench”.

Alan R.

January 14th, 2011
10:01 am

GTPO – You mean you haven’t shoveled it? :P

World Be Free

January 14th, 2011
10:20 am

Spud-Sabres cant afford to give up a centerman since they are short up the middle, es[ecially since Connolly probably won’t be back next season. I agree-he could help us alot!