Matthews: What Do Pegula's Think About The BCA?

WONDERING WHAT THE PEGULAS REALLY THINK ABOUT BLUE CROSS ARENA?

The owners of the Buffalo Bills and Sabres -- Terry and Kim Pegula -- on Tuesday revealed that they’ve hired consulting and architectural firms to study the future needs of both teams’ facilities, including whether to build a new NFL stadium to replace the 45-year-old New Era Field.

Pegula Sports Entertainment CEO Bruce Popko said the study is required because both facilities, including the 23-year-old KeyBank Center – home of the NHL Sabres – “have fallen behind modern standards.”

I assume the Pegulas also believe Rochester’s Blue Cross Arena, which opened in 1955, is more than “slightly” behind modern standards.

The Pegulas currently operate Blue Cross Arena and nearly everyone living in Greater Rochester must be hoping that the Pegulas have enough confidence in the future of our community to somehow bring a state-of-the-art arena to Rochester. Or at least buy the building and see that the seating bowl gets significant long-term upgrades.

In my opinion, this is a great time for the Pegulas to study the stadium/arena needs for Buffalo. The Bills and Sabres appear to be on the upswing. Public support for both projects figures to be higher when the futures of the Bills on the field and Sabres on the ice are looking up.

I believe Rochester still has the population to support an arena assuming it is “up to modern standards” to lure attractive events and provide state-of-the art accommodations for prospective ticket buyers.

THE SABRES ARE LAST NFL SEASON’S VEGAS GOLDEN KNIGHTS

The story of the 2017-18 National Hockey League season was the success of the expansion Vegas Golden Knights. They made it all the way to the Stanley Cup Finals.

The national story of this NHL season is the Buffalo Sabres. They were the league’s worst team last season – for the third time in five years. Now they’re the talk of the NHL with a 10-game winning streak and battling for the top spot in the 31-team NHL standings.

The Sabres are the hot topic in western New York and I’m wondering how few Buffalo season-ticketholders will be selling their tickets to Toronto fans for the Tuesday, December 4 Maple Leafs at Sabres game.

The Sabres won 3-2 over the San Jose Sharks Tuesday night at KeyBank Center. They won in overtime. No surprise. Nine of the 10 wins have been by one goal, including four in overtime and three in shootoutsThose are confidence-boosters for a young team on the rise.

The next three games are on the road – at Tampa Bay Thursday, at Florida Friday and at Nashville Monday. The TV

The TV ratings in Buffalo and Rochester will be staggering.

A SAD DAY FOR KNIGHTHAWKS’ FANS

Matt Vinc is a Buffalo Bandit. Tough to believe, but true.

The National Lacrosse League Rochester Knighthawks, heading into a lame-duck season, on Tuesday lost their superstar goaltender to the arch-rival Buffalo Bandits.

Vinc, arguably the NLL’s all-time best goaltender (he’s a six-time Goaltender of the Year), was a restricted free agent and signed a three-year contract with Buffalo. The Knighthawks will receive a future draft pick as compensation, probably a first-rounder.

Vinc, 36, via social media on Tuesday thanked Rochester’s fans, teammates and the organization for “eight amazing seasons.” He was acquired by the Knighthawks in October 2010 in a blockbuster deal that sent superstar forward John Grant, Jr., to the Mammoth.

That arguably was the biggest trade in Rochester pro sports history* and it worked out splendidly for both teams.

The Knighthawks, including most of the team’s players, will move to Halifax, Nova Scotia, after this season. Rochester will get an expansion team. Vinc wanted to stay closer to his hometown St. Catharines, Ontario, where he lives and is a teacher/lacrosse coach. He opted for the security of three years playing for the Bandits.

Angus Goodleaf, Vinc’s talented back-up since 2013, is likely to be Rochester’s starting goaltender this season.

*I assume Red Wings star George Puccinelli to the  Newark Bears for former Rochester resident George Selkirk was considered a blockbuster trade in the summer of 1934. It happened during a Bears at Red Wings series. The deal was unusual because it was for only the rest of that season.  Selkirk returned to the New York Yankees for the 1934 season and became Babe Ruth’s successor in right field in 1935.

RECOMMENDED VIEWING: THE OKLAHOMA SOONERS

If you haven’t watched the Oklahoma Sooners play this college football season, I suggest you tune in on Saturday, noon on ABC, to see them take on the Texas Longhorns in the Big 12 championship game.

The Sooners are one of the most exciting college teams you’ll ever see on offense...and one of the most frustrating teams you’ll ever see on defense.

Oklahoma led the nation’s 129 major-college football teams this season in scoring (50.3 points per game), total offense (583.8 yards per game) and yards per play (an amazing 8.9, and it would’ve been even more if the Sooners didn’t have to stop after they scored).

The Sooners are loaded with superior athletes – exceptional speed and moves – on offense. But their teammates on defense are many notches below in talent.

Oklahoma ranked 111th out of 129 teams in total defense, allowing 449 yards per game. The Sooners defenders gave up leads almost as quickly as their offensive teammates scored.

For example, Oklahoma’s only loss this season was 48-45 to Texas on a late field goal. The Sooners outlasted host West Virginia 59-56 in their final game of the regular season.

Most people believe Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa is a cinch to win the Heisman Trophy, but check out Oklahoma QB Kyler Murray. He’s incredibly quick and shifty and would be the Heisman favorite in many other years.

Oklahoma is hoping to earn the fourth spot in the FBS playoffs, with Alabama, Clemson and Notre Dame. I believe the Sooners could score at least 25 points on any of them – including the Crimson Tide. But I don’t know if Oklahoma’s defense could stop any those any of those three elite teams even once.

Check out the Sooners Saturday afternoon. You’ll see what I mean.

WHY I WISH I KEPT MY HEISMAN TROPHY BALLOT

After around 20 years as a proud and conscientious Heisman Trophyvoter, I gave up my ballot this year.  I wish I waitedone more season because I think Oklahoma QB Kyler Murray could use my support.

I watched Murray and Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa each play many times this season and I don’t understand why – in a two-player race for the Heisman Trophy – most observers are saying and writing that Tua has an insurmountable advantage.

Here are their numbers for this season (both played in 12 games):

Passing:

Tagovailoa – 189 of 269 (.703) for 3,189 yards;11.87 yards per attempt;  36 TD passes; 2 INT

Murray – 216 of 306 (.706) for 3,674 yards; 12.01 yards per attempt; 37 TD passes; 7 INT.

Rushing:

Tagovailoa – 45 carries for 211 yards; 4.7-yard average; 5 TDs

Murray – 113 carries for 853 yards; 7.5-yard average; 11 TDs.

I believe Murray was slightly more valuable to Oklahoma than Tua was to Alabama because the11-1 Sooners had a much weaker defense than the 12-0 Crimson Tide.

BOB’S THURSDAY NIGHT NFL “BEST BET”:

The Dallas Cowboys generally play much better at home than on the road, but most of their “guests” aren’t as potent as the New Orleans Saints.

League MVP frontrunner Drew Brees and his potent offense figures to enjoy playing under a retractable roof. The Cowboys might have a better chance with Ezekiel Elliott running in poor weather.

The Cowboys would need a peak effort to end the Saints’ 10-game winning streak.  I wouldn’t count on that happening.

Bob’s “Best Bet”: New Orleans 35, DALLAS (+7 ½) 17.

CAN’T FAULT SABRES FOR PILUT RECALLS

The Buffalo Sabres promoted defenseman Lawrence Pilut Tuesday for the second time within a week, but no Rochester Amerks fans should complain.

Pilut probably is too good for the AHL and deserves a spot in Buffalo whenever he is needed.

Pilut was voted the outstanding defenseman inj the Swedish League last season and entered Tuesday ranked third in AHL scoring (3 goals + 19 assists for 22 points in 16 games) and == even more impressive – first in the league in p0luis.mius at +19 (goals for his team and scored against his team at even strength when a player is on the ice).

Pilut and Amerks teammate Zach Redmond (13 goals + 9 assists for 22 points in 19 games; +5) ranked 1-2 in scoring among AHL defenseman entering Tuesday.

SHORT SHOTS

Journeyman outfielder Jeremy Hazelbaker, 31, who finished the 2018 season with the Rochester Red Wings (.188 batting average, 18-of-96, 4 doubles, 2 triples, 3 HRs, 9 RBI, 16 walks, 38 Ks in 35 games)), has signed to play in Korea next season for $700,000.

Former Rochester Knighthawks star forward Dan Dawson has signed with the National Lacrosse League expansion San Diego Seals.

Long-time Rochester RazorSharks popular mainstay point guard Jerice Crouch, 34, has retired from pro basketball. He’ll be an assistant varsity basketball coach at UPrep charter school.

Outfielder Jake Cave had an interesting 2018 season: In 59 games with Rochester, .265 batting average (58-of-216), 9 doubles, 1 triple, 6 HRs, 28 RBI, 26 walks, 55 Ks...In 91 games with Minnesota, .265 batting average (75-of-283), 16 doubles, 2 triples, 13 HRs, 45 RBI, 18 walks, 102 Ks.

Percent of winning post-time favorites at Batavia Downs so far this season: 41.22 (through 592 races). Wednesday is the final live thoroughbred racing program at Finger Lakes for the 2018 season.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO...

Wednesday, November 28

Jarvis Landry 26...Marc-Andre Fleury 34...Andrew Bogat 34...Leandro Barbosa 36...Robb Nen 49...Pedro Astacio 49...Dale Carter 49...Matt Williams 53...RoyTarpley 54...Walt Weiss 55...Johnny Newman 55...Chris Langevin 59...Dave Righetti 60...Preston Dennard 63...Sixto Lezcano 65...Rick Middleton 67...Red Wings Hall of Famer Jim Fuller 68...Vern Den Herder 70...Paul Warfield 76. Jon Stewart 56 and Judd Nelson 57 are invited to the birthday party.

Thursday, November 29

Julius Randle 24...Stefan Diggs 25...Russell Wilson 30...Pat Simms 33...Pavol Dumitra 44...Jamal Mashburn 46...Brad May 47...Mariano Rivera 49...Dee Brown 50...Blair Kiel 57...Rich Camarillo 59...Howard Johnson 59...Neal Broten 59..Jerry Laweler 69....Suzy Chaffee 73...Bill Freehan 77...Vin Scully 91. Chadwick Boseman 41, Don Cheadle 54 and Howie Mandel 63 are invited to the birthday party.

Bob Matthews' Column

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