McCormick earned himself a contract and full time employment in the NHL last year after a strong 2010-2011 campaign in terms of both fighting and on the score sheet. He led Buffalo with 16 fighting majors and provided some much needed toughness. This year was a different story. McCormick battled injuries this year including 2 concussions which limited him to 50 games. He only fought 8 times this season. McCormick is forced to be the policeman on Buffalo due to their lack of toughness and I appreciate the fact that he tries very hard at it and has little support. That being said, he did not do a very effective job this season as Buffalo was pushed around far too much, especially by Boston.
stepped up his physical game this season and also dropped the gloves more. While I was happy to see that as a Sabres fan, the simple fact of the matter is Mike Weber
can't fight. Weber did not win any of his 6 fights and most of them (his fight with Thornton being the exception) were boring wrestling matches. Given how weak Buffalo is, I do have to give Weber credit for being willing to mix it up and fight even though it is evident that he has no skill.
Gaustad's nickname while he was in Buffalo was the Goose. After the way he played this season, his nickname should be the chicken. I have always disliked Gaustad for several reasons. I feel his reputation for toughness is undeserved and I also felt he did not do enough on a soft Buffalo team.
Needless to say, this season proved all of those things to be true. Gaustad started the season by wearing a visor. Later on he completely failed his team and his goaltender when they needed him most. When Ryan Miller was run by Lucic, Gaustad (and the rest of the Sabres) failed to respond. A week later Gaustad dropped the gloves with Lucic to save face (and got his butt kicked in the process) but it was too little too late. The damage was done and Buffalo's season was over as far as I'm concerned at that point. After the Lucic fight, Gaustad kept his gloves on for the rest of the season as he only had one more fight. He ended up being traded at the deadline and as far as I'm concerned he deserved to be. Good riddance!!!
Kaleta struggled with injuries this season (what else is new). In spite of this, I believe that he really stepped it up this year. For several seasons he was criticized for taking cheapshots, turtling, and not fighting anyone tough (and much of this criticism was deserved). This season Kaleta only fought 4 times. However two of his opponents were Milan Lucic
and Matt Martin
. Both of those guys are way out of Kaleta's league and weight class and he took them on anyway. That takes a lot of guts especially considering Kaleta went toe-to-toe with Lucic. He deserves a lot of credit and he impressed me this year.
Regehr was brought in to toughen up the Sabres and he did provide a physical presence. He only fought five times (his fight with Malone isn't on here because they got roughing minors). However I thought Regehr did a solid job as he was one of the few players to stick up for his teammates. I also have to give him credit for tangling with Zdeno Chara
. Overall, a decent job done by Robyn Regehr
. He doesn’t fight much but he did step up at times.
It is not Ehrhoff’s job to fight and I was very surprised to see him fight at all. But considering he was one of the few skill players on Buffalo who wasn’t afraid to get involved or stand up for a teammate, I have to give him credit. Grade: B
Only fought twice and did not provide enough of a physical presence. However he did drop Sestito and go toe-to-toe with Martin so Zack didn’t do too bad. I was not happy to see him get traded. The fact that he didn’t get involved as much as he should’ve does lower his grade. Grade: C +
Huge defenseman but his fighting needs work. He beat Matt Martin
but lost to the smaller Reaves. Has to improve if he is to be the enforcer for the team. Grade: C
Went toe-to-toe with Rinaldo and took it to him while standing up for a teammate. He only got into one more fight but Tropp did provide a spark when in the lineup. Grade: B
Summary: The Buffalo Sabres
have let many cheapshots go unaddressed for several seasons now. It finally caught up to them. The Lucic incident exposed how weak and gutless this team truly is. They have some tough players in the system (Foligno, McNabb) and just drafted more. But as for the present time, this is a weak and cowardly team that can be intimidated and that is why this team either misses the playoffs or loses in the first round year after year.
Team Grade: F
On a side note, the fact that a team like Buffalo actually cracked the top 10 in terms of team fighting majors really demonstrates how soft this league has gotten!