In another bold move by Sabres GM Tim Murray, this one coming ahead of the April 1st Mascot Trade Deadline, longtime Mascot "SabreTooth" has been traded to the Florida Panthers for a 7th round pick in 2019. Initial reports by SteelOpus from 'diebytheblade' have been confirmed, sending the beloved Cat to Florida ahead of their playoff push.
Florida GM Dave Tallon released a statement tuesday..."Tiger, Panther whatever...have you seen the fans at our games? No, seriously, have you seen any fans at our games? We just thought we had an opportunity to bring in some entertainment for a few of the kids...and to keep the snowbirds from falling asleep in their soup during the games."
The trade comes on the heels of a lot of speculation about the future of the pending UFA mascot when contract negotiations seemed to stall out last month after "Tanky!" was picked up off of waivers. Elliot Friedman reported seeing scouts from the Panthers and the Nashville Predators at FNC last month, and then when SabreTooth was made a "Healthy Scratch" during a recent homestand the rumors really began to swirl.
Sabres fan's reaction to the move has been mixed. The Buffalo News interviewed fans outside of First Niagara Center such as lifelong Buffalo resident and Season Ticket holder Don Wajchersyhki.. "Yeah, I mean, like Come on...Yeah I get it Murray, ya know, but did you really have ta trade da fuhckin' Mascot!" Another teary eyed youngster in a Zemgus Girgensons jersey just shook her head and said "Why...".
With "Tanky!", the Sabres bring in a Journeyman Mascot known for his solid work with the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Edmonton Oilers. Recent years have found him in the KHL with Mettallurg Nk, as some NHL owners found him to be a little too "on the Nose".
It will take some time for the Sabres fans to warm up to Tanky!, as he's a somewhat stark departure from the loveable hijinks and fuzziness that SabreTooth delighted fans with, both young and old, throughout the years. Tanky!, with his bleak grey German Panzer tank head, wife beater and Iron Cross Tattoos on his arms certainly does make a lasting impression. Especially when his "Go To" move is creeping up on fans on the Jumbotron and Screetching a loud animatronic "Boom!!" to ripples of feigned amusement or downright terror.
Around the League
NHL Mascots have had some trouble staying out of the Limelight recently, as we all remember 'The Youppi Incident" where the confused Canadiens Mascot downed a half of a case of Moet & Chandon and staggered down Rue Sainte-Catherines while playing "Grabass Giroux" with equally confused Quebecois....Allegedly! Youppi really took the Carey Price playoff injury hard, apparently. Then of course, there was the case where "Iceburgh", the Penguins Mascot had his twitter feed hacked, much to the chagrin of Sidney Crosby.
Of course all of this talk of "Tanky!", does little to quell the suspicion that Tim Murray and Company are aiming to tank the season, although Murray simply called it a "hockey trade". NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman has weighed in on the subject, saying the "NHL is reviewing the process of Mascot moves going forward". Bettman had been quiet on the subject of Mascots since he last tried to crush the NHLMA Union (mascot association), in 2008 and have them all replaced with Animatronic Chuck-e-Cheese. Bettman lost that one, but was able to get through the provision starting this year where he will deliver the Stanley Cup to the Winning Team captain by descending from the rafters in full Emperor Palpatine regalia...including theme music. Asked to comment on it, Bettman said simply, "Boo me?! Boo me Muthaf%%ers??!"
**thanks to Steelopus
***Tune in next time for the Hollywood Update with more reports on Phil Kessels acting career...will he land the starring role in Pixars new animated feature "The Angry Badger"?