I grew up in the Buffalo NY that was hard working and proud of it. The city was overcast gray from the smoke emitted out of the huge stacks from a busy Bethlehem Steel and the Ford Plant was rolling with 3 full shifts a day. The Queen City had life. The Bills were the only game in town until the Knox family brought the Sabres to Buffalo for the 1970-71 season.
Right from the start the city of Buffalo (and the surrounding areas) were hooked.
Going to a Sabres game was an awesome experience. Don't get me wrong...going to games today is awesome, but back then each game was an event. The Sabres fit into the tough, hard working identity that was the city and were truly more than a professional team in a city...they were Buffalo.
So how is Kaleta's signing a significant one?
1. He works blue collar hard every single night and leaves nothing on the ice. The same cannot be said of some of the much higher paid guys on the roster.
2. The man hits like a freight train. He has an amazing ability to make even the biggest superstar alter their game. And when Patty hits the ice…rest assured the bad guys know it. He plays with intensity, game after game, that is often times game changing. The down side to his “all or nothing” style is it takes a toll on him physically. He hasn’t played a full season (50 games in each of the last two seasons)…so the Sabres need to figure out how to keep him healthy…..which leads to number three.
3. He has the potential to be a 20 goal scorer. He had a productive year despite limited ice time as a role player (10 goals, 5 assists, +2). Given the opportunity on the third line and a situational second line (just to shake things up) he could bag a bunch.
4. He is an opportunistic skater. Always seems to be in the right place at the right time. Whether it is to levy a boomin’ hit on someone or jumping on a rebound…he has the knack.
5. Buffalo has some seasoned, experienced vets that are, and will be, the leaders of the team (Rivet, Montador and new additions Niedemeyer, Leopold) and Patty leads by example. He is primed to take a more active leadership role and the guys on the team respect his work ethic and what he brings every night. He is a consummate team player.
But perhaps the biggest reason this signing is significant…. judging by the number of Facebook and Twitter pleads for Darcy to sign him…he has become a fan favorite and just as important to the Sabres fan as he is to the team.