Traverse City: Great idea. Buffalo: Better idea.

After an off day yesterday, Luke Adam and the rest of the Buffalo Sabres’ rookie class wraps up their round robin schedule at the Traverse City prospects tournament tonight against the host Detroit Red Wings.

The Sabres head into the match having already wrapped up the top spot in their division and a spot in the 1st Place game, thanks to wins over Columbus and Minnesota, both by scores of 6-3. (By the way, stick tap to Kevin Snow of the Sabres, the only Buffalo media guy who’s there, for a solid job recapping the events.)

The championship game will take place Wednesday night as the Sabres take on the New York Rangers at 7:00 ET, a game which will be broadcast live on MSG and NHL Network.

It’s a positive step for the organization to be participating in an event like this. It’s a great opportunity for new Amerks coach Ron Rolston to get know his players. It will be a bonding experience for all the prospects in the organization. It’s even giving the team an opportunity to get an extra look at a few free agent invitees who may not get much of a chance to shine once the full roster is together.

The only real downside of the whole thing is the inability for anyone to watch without being inside the rink.

It begs the question… why are they not doing this here in Buffalo?

Obviously, there’s a group of teams that participates yearly in this Traverse City tournament. It was started in 1998, and teams like the host Red Wings and the New York Rangers (who take this very seriously based on coverage on their website) are probably very comfortable with the setup. But there’s 30 teams in the league, and finding a couple who either aren’t involved in any other tournaments or may be looking for greener pastures should be feasible.

This year’s other prospect events include a tournament in Penticton, British Columbia (hosted by Canucks, with Flames, Oilers, Jets & Sharks participating) and one in Oshawa, Ontario (Leafs, Senators, Penguins and Blackhawks). The Islanders hosted the Bruins at Nassau Coliseum for a rookie matchup.

These venues can’t exactly be world-class, or at least optimal. NHL-level facilities should be enough to lure some teams in. Sure, it might be a lot of extra work, but seriously, why not?

We want this place to be “Hockey Heaven,” right? Expose these young players from all over to the culture you’re creating. Make them think that Buffalo is the place they want to play. Make an impression early. Sure, they’re already on teams. But some of these guys are invitees who may not earn a spot. All of these guys will eventually become free agents. You can sell them on Buffalo long before they’re on the market. Down the line, when you’re looking to bring them in, they’ll have this amazing experience to draw on.

Plus, if Buffalo has the best facilities in the league, the Sabres can keep their own guys in the best possible situation. Have the entire staff there to evaluate their prospects, and give the hockey department an opportunity to look at the talent other organizations have in stock. A scouting trip you don’t have to go anywhere for! Brilliant!

I’m sure the Sabres’ front office staff has a lot on their plate right now. Rome wasn’t built in a day, right? But is there any reason they can’t set this up for next year? Two years? Whatever. It’s an opportunity with great potential, and hopefully, one that the organization looks at in the next couple years.


Posted on September 13, 2011, in Sabres/NHL and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

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  1. Pingback: Overreactions, Traverse City Edition « 3rd Man In

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