Author Archive

The Tank is over….and in Rochester….shouldn’t have ever been

April 17, 2015 - By
The Tank is over….and in Rochester….shouldn’t have ever been

This wasn’t a fun season.  The Buffalo Sabres tanking negatively affected the Amerks roster and as a result we had to suffer through a plethora of meaningless games down the stretch.  And… playoffs.  Again.  So, this will be the 10th consecutive season our beloved Amerks don’t get out of the first round and the 5th time in that same stretch that we don’t get to see any playoff games at all.

For most hockey fans – playoffs are what matters…and if you’re an Amerks hockey fan who followed the team in the 60’s or the 80’s&90’s – well, this is just intolerable right now.   AAA hockey is not like AAA baseball where winning is minimized.  In baseball, rosters expand for the big club before the season is even over.  In hockey – they freeze.  In baseball, the season ends a month earlier.  In hockey – it goes later.  Hockey IS playoffs.  And Amerks hockey even moreso.  It is built into the soul of the franchise.  Those banners over the ice and in the Hall of Fame upper atrium area shouldn’t be decorations – they should be the mission.

I am of the opinion that the Amerks didn’t need to be [...]Read More

Steve Donner Interview – Part IV

January 16, 2015 - By
Steve Donner Interview – Part IV

In today’s AHL, it’s getting harder and harder to achieve the string of successful seasons that we orchestrated here, and I’d like to think that that strengthens the legacy of what we accomplished.”

 LGA:  It seems unfair that your legacy is what happened at the end vs. bringing a Cup here and having several successful seasons generated in your vision.  What do you say about that?

Donner:  “True Amerk fans know my accomplishments.  In today’s AHL, it’s getting harder and harder to achieve the string of successful seasons that we orchestrated here, and I’d like to think that that strengthens the legacy of what we accomplished.  Curt would ask me how I did it for all those years.  And I would never trade it for anything.  The negative stuff … that’s just public life.  The media does what it wants to.”

LGA:  Do you think there is a place for you in the Amerk Hall of Fame?

Donner:  “I hope so.  We had the best winning percentage in the AHL over that first 10 year period.  We won the franchise’s last Calder Cup and had 2 other final appearances.  I’m very proud of it (his ownership tenure).  It’s the [...]Read More

Steve Donner Interview – Part III

January 14, 2015 - By
Steve Donner Interview – Part III

“We weren’t asking for handouts – we just wanted to keep some of our own revenue that we were generating.”


LGA:  On a scale of 1-10 (with 1 being extremely difficult and 10 being extremely easy) how was the city of Rochester to work with regards to the War Memorial lease?

Donner:  “A rating is tough.  Maybe a 3-4 … overall.  Johnson was better to work with.  His administration was more like a 5-7.  Also the County Executive at the time was good to work with – Jack Doyle.  After Johnson, an extraordinarily hard line was taken. There were a lot of politics going on behind the scenes.  They weren’t going to not appease the only billionaire in town.  The only way to keep up was a better lease.  The city said no.   If you look around, how do you think Utica got a team back?  Binghamton…they got a sweet heart of lease.  Those communities want their team.  You know, we weren’t asking for handouts – we just wanted to keep some of our own revenue that we were generating.”

“In the beginning, profits were invested 100% back into the team.  Because….pride in the city and to win championships.  Even [...]Read More

Steve Donner Interview – Part II

January 13, 2015 - By
Steve Donner Interview – Part II

“I wanted to make Rochester proud”

LGA: What do you miss the most about owning the Amerks?
Donner: “The People! I miss the fans the most – their happiness after a win. The joy of watching the clock count down on a game day. I was a fan first, so being able to do that in my home town – well – it was a passion more than a job. I wanted to make Rochester proud. I gave it all I had. I hate to see the franchise struggle. I really did give it everything I had. In the first 10 years of my ownership we had the best winning percentage in the AHL”

LGA: Who were some of your favorite players during your tenure as owner?
Donner: “Frawls, Metter, Sharky….Dane Jackson. Sharky (Craig Charron) was my first signing…EVER. Very proud that I gave him a chance when no one else would – and look what he accomplished here! And also a great community guy. Jody of course, too. Became a great GM…for TWO teams. The guys you win with always remain special, of course. Still talk with Torts and Boxie now.”
This segued into a great [...]Read More

Steve Donner Interview – Part I (Intro)

January 12, 2015 - By
Steve Donner Interview – Part I (Intro)

“They were the love of my life.”

In 1994, the Buffalo Sabres needed to divest money losing entities like the Rochester Americans – to be scuttled or sold – in order to finance and build the Marine Midland Arena, now known as the First Niagara Center.

Steve Donner had already made it known to close friend and former boss Seymour Knox as well as Gerry Meehan that owning the Amerks would be a dream come true. While he enjoyed his time as VP with the Tampa Bay Lightning, his wife missed WNY and he really had a strong desire to test his own philosophies on a franchise he owned. While a deal was going to take a little time, Donner took a chance and returned to Rochester to be President of the Amerks (with an option to buy) where he worked as marketing director in the early 80’s. So on a Wednesday night, watching a lackluster performance in front of a nearly-empty arena, then-Sabres President, Doug Moss said, “Are you SURE you want to buy this team?

With that, the Cinderella story of the 1995-1996 Calder Cup Championship team was born, and the growing development-only philosophy of the previous 2 [...]Read More

Neither a Failure Nor Success

May 5, 2014 - By
Neither a Failure Nor Success

The cold hard fact is that in hockey, success is achieved only by playoff series victories.

This season featured a lot of nice moments:

– A great summer of vet signings
– A new GM who knows how to win
– An amazing Frozen Frontier event
– A visit to The Spengler Cup
– A great run to get into the playoffs
– A fun series against Chicago

But it’s not enough. The bottom line is that for the 10th season in a row the Amerks did not win a playoff series.

Why? There are several reasons to discuss:

– Injuries to veterans Bagnall, Tardif and Zigomanis hurt big time in the series against Chicago.
– Lots of injuries and recalls throughout the season hurt seeding and the chance to get momentum against a lesser foe.
– It was 5 game series rather than 7.
– The choke in game 1.
– The lost battles throughout game 5.
– The over-officious October penalty calling didn’t favor a team like the Amerks vs. a team like Chicago.

None of these really matter in the end. 10 seasons without a [...]Read More

Veteran core coming together

August 13, 2013 - By

The Amerks core is built, and it appears to be quite strong. Not only are these guys very talented, but many could be a C or A on any team at this level.

Center: Matt Ellis

Center: Mike Zigomanis

LW: Jamie Tardif

W: Colton Gillies

D: Drew Bagnall

D: Alex Sulzer

With a featured Outdoor Event and an entry into the Spengler Cup – a very strong team is mandatory this season.

Most importantly – a core like this could help the Amerks end their playoff series win drought of 9 seasons.

And the Banners Weep

May 2, 2013 - By
And the Banners Weep

– No Playoff wins in 3 seasons (since the..GASP..Florida years)

– No Playoff series wins in 8 seasons

– No Playoff run in 9 seasons

– No Cup Appearance in 13 seasons

– No Cup in 17 years

Amerks, Playoffs and Darcy

April 11, 2013 - By
Amerks, Playoffs and Darcy

After a second frustrating trade deadline in a row, Eric Bourgeois and Jason Bonno discuss the Amerk playoff roster (who’s on it, who is not), playoff chances……..and Darcy Regier.

Kevin Porter

Eric: He was clearly very important to the team in many ways as its captain and is sorely missed. Good for him in getting NHL time, but I think he would have cleared waivers so that he could have played with us in the playoffs.

Jason: This was a tough blow to the Amerks. Porter’s speed and puck possession were elite at the AHL level, and are two things the Amerks severely lack currently. He was the backbone of the Amerks forwards. Beyond his offensive abilities, he was also responsible defensively and was a key PK’er. I can’t say 100%, but my guess is he would have cleared waivers. His 1-way deal next season was a nice security blanket and probably would have scared off teams from claiming him.

Cody Hodgson and Marcus Foligno

Eric: I’m okay with considering them “graduated” and therefore not eligible for the playoffs here, but boy does the Buffalo organization need some playoff experience for its young players. And it’s not like Hodgson [...]Read More

Veteran core the key to success

February 4, 2013 - By
Veteran core the key to success

Darcy Regier answered our previous question of “Does Buffalo care about winning here” with a YES.

With the additions of Adam Pardy and Patrick Rissmiller, the Amerks now have a legitimate veteran core that is capable of a Calder Cup run. Rissmiller (34 years young) is particularly important because he gives some age to a rather young team.

Defined as having played 320+ pro games at the AHL or higher level, the Amerks now have 4 veterans in Pardy, Rissmiller, Mancari and Tarnasky to go along with the exempt spot (260-320 games) that Captain Kevin Porter fills. League rules allow up to 5 veteran spots to be used per game (plus the exempt spot, and goalies are excluded) so we still could use one more. Matt Ellis is a possibility and frankly I would like a little depth added to this most critical core, too.

So please Darcy, make that a YES – with a exclamation point! Teams who compete for the Calder Cup never have a shortage of veteran players, and Rochester’s storied history – as displayed in banner form in the War Memorial – are proof of this.

Does Buffalo care about winning in Rochester?

December 9, 2012 - By

-Written by Jason Bonno

Buffalo Sabres management is failing the Rochester Americans. The season, which arrived amidst much hoopla with the NHL lockout, is starting to come off the rails by the middle of December, with apparently no help in sight. To the contrary, the positive is just that, it’s only the middle of December and there are 55 games remaining. However, one has to wonder if Sabres GM Darcy Regier and Kevin Devine, who oversees Amerks hockey operations, really have any pulse on what is happening to the Amerks – and if they do, do they care?

It didn’t start well on the injury front, with the Amerks losing Corey Tropp for the season during their very first game. Many fans hoped for a replacement player right away. That the Sabres management would recognize losing their top winger in the first game could be a devastating blow, especially in a league with so much talent. But nothing happened. It was understandable, especially when Brian Flynn capitalized on his new opportunity. He has, perhaps, become the Amerks’ best forward and arguably MVP to date.

However, it didn’t end there. As it seems to happen to every year to the Amerks, [...]Read More

2012-2013 Amerk Preview

October 11, 2012 - By
2012-2013 Amerk Preview

(Special thanks to main contributor – Jason Bonno)

The long hockey offseason is finally ending and the Rochester Americans are preparing to open the season Friday night against their longtime rivals, the Syracuse Crunch. It’s been an interesting offseason, to say the least, as the NHL has locked out its players. For Amerks fans, however, this means being able to watch players who otherwise would have made the Buffalo Sabres. Cody Hodgson, acquired in the trade with Zack Kassian at the trade deadline, headlines that group along with Marcus Foligno. Guys like Corey Tropp and Brayden McNabb also had excellent chances to make the Sabres based on training camp play. The offseason also saw the return of former Amerk Mark Mancari, who had somewhat of a rocky past with Amerks fans, but today appears more mature – a better player and someone who is looking to take on a leadership role. Rounding out the well-knowns is the return of Amerks 2011-2012 MVP goalie David Leggio.

The stability the Amerks and the rest of the AHL will have during the lockout without any recalls will help improve the product we see on a nightly basis.

We’ll first breakdown the Amerks’ forwards [...]Read More