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Mentors for Myers July 6, 2011

Posted by calvin in Uncategorized.
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Tyler Myers was labeled the ‘Big Easy’ at the beginning of the 2009-10 season, with his languid, smooth-skating style belying his 6’8″ stature. At the time Sabres fans were not even sure that he would be kept up at the big club or sent back to Kelowna Rockets in the juniors after the ten-game limit had expired. Paired up with veteran Henrik Tallinder, Myers did enough in those games (2G, 3A, +10) to ensure that there was no way management could not keep him here. His career seemed to take off after that, drawing comparisons to Bruins behemoth Zdeno Chara. His Calder Trophy-winning regular season stats of 11G, 37A, +13, 32PIM & 91 hits had fans licking their lips at the prospect of finally having our very own Chris Pronger, Scott Niedermayer or Nicklas Lidstrom, a rock to build championship teams on for years to come. However, he ended the year with a whimper being largely anonymous in the 6-game loss to the Bruins in the playoffs.

In his second season, the dreaded sophomore slump took root, with Myers having an abysmal start to the season. The Sabres had chosen to not keep either Tallinder or fellow veteran Tony Lydman, and this seemed to affect his play. He did not look ready to be part of the top-pairing D, and often was lost on ice without the guidance of senior mentor figures. The weight of expectation started bowing down his lanky shoulders and with him fell the fortunes of the Sabres, seemingly out of the post-season chatter around the half-season mark 2011 rolled around. Losing Derek Roy galvanized the team and under the firepower of Thomas Vanek the Sabres rallied to make the playoffs. Myers’ offensive stats were unspectacular and his plus-minus had just made it to zero with a couple of games left in the year.  The playoffs brought out a different beast in Myers, who ended up bullying the Broad St. Bullies with his physical domination of the boards and gritty demeanor in the blue paint.  While a lot of potential stars have faded out in their second year of play, Myers was able to turn it around mid-season and end on a personal high.

It appears Lindy Ruff & Co. identified that having some veteran support for Myers was going to be crucial in making him the star D-man he has the potential to become. One of the things we have seen with the new ownership is that what Pegula wants, Pegula gets. In the days before free agency, gritty Flames D-man Robyn Regehr was convinced to come ply his gritty trade here in Buffalo, and then hours before noon on July 1st, prized free agent Christian Ehrhoff was also signed on to the Sabres. In a matter of days, not only was the Buffalo blue line vastly improved, but two veteran leaders who can lead Myers into superstardom were brought in. The hope is that Myers can eventually turn into a physical shutdown defenseman of Regehr’s nature, with the offensive firepower and forward vision that Ehrhoff brings to the game.

There’s no saying still who will finally line up on the blue line for the Sabres come the new season as you can bet Darcy Regier and his lot are not done wheeling and dealing yet, but hopes are high that Tyler Myers is going to be in the talk for the Norris Trophy for best defenseman come end of the 2011-12 season.

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