The Official Ville Leino Support Thread: Day One

Sabre Noise readers, I was all set to get to work on this post in anticipation of last night’s game between the Buffalo Sabres and the Ottawa Senators . . .

Oct 26, 2013; Tampa, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Radko Gudas (7) defends Buffalo Sabres left wing Ville Leino (23) during the first period at Tampa Bay Times Forum. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

and then Ville Leino went and got himself benched, and I had to put this on the back burner and wait until today.

Such is the story of Ville Leino’s career in Buffalo.

As Sabre Noise founder Tim Redinger pointed out earlier today, Ville Leino has drawn the ire of many fans due to the fact that he has not come even close to earning the $27 million contract he signed back in 2011.  You can blame injuries – he certainly has suffered enough of those – you can blame his coaches, or you can outright blame Ville himself; the bottom line is, he’s been an unequivocal bust since arriving in town.

It would be easy, then, to call for the Sabres to buyout Leino at the end of this season.  The organization may already have plans to do that very thing, for all I know – but that’s not why I am here.

Instead, I am making it my personal mission to champion the cause of Ville Leino and write a series of posts until he scores his first goal of the season.

Look: if you haven’t noticed a change in Leino’s play since Ted Nolan came into town, then you’re blind.  Or a Boston Bruins fan.  Either way, I can’t be bothered with you.  Seriously, Leino has kicked it into a higher gear since the Sabres let Ron Rolston go, but all he has to show for it is five assists and a healthy scratch.  However, if you look at Leino’s advanced stats and compare him to all of the players on the Sabres roster who have played in at least 50% of the Sabres’ games this season, you’ll see that Leino has the fifth best Corsi number and fourth best Fenwick rating.  (Oddly enough, the player with the best Corsi and Fenwick is Johan Larsson, who should not be playing in Rochester right now.  There – I said it.) (Stats courtesy of extraskater.com.)  For a team that ranks dead-last in the NHL when it comes to (among other things) puck possession, Leino is actually one of the reasons why Buffalo’s Corsi and Fenwick numbers are not much, much worse.

Nov 24, 2013; Buffalo, NY, USA; Buffalo Sabres left wing Ville Leino (23) against the Detroit Red Wings at First Niagara Center. Mandatory Credit: Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports

For that reason, I will personally focus on Leino before each and every game, and highlight the positives of his nightly efforts in an effort to provide him with the moral support he doesn’t even know he needs.  Once he scores a goal, I’m outta here – so let’s hope he finds the back of the net soon, so I can move on with my life!

Tune in tomorrow, then, as I examine Leino’s match-up against the Ottawa Senators and attempt to set odds on whether he will score his first goal of the season against them.  Thanks for the read!!

Topics: Buffalo Sabres, Ville Leino

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  • http://SabreNoise.com/ Richard Spalding

    Darn it – I forgot to insert smiley faces to indicate there is, indeed, humor in this post. Eh, I’ll do that next time.

    • JHizzle75

      Love the idea ! My opinion is that Leino simply doesn’t shoot the puck enough ( or at all) . Seems to me he wants to set his line mates up with tap-in highlight reel goals all the time, and when he gets a clear chance at a shot he passes the puck! Other than that, I agree that Leino has been working very hard under Nolan and has shown improvement as of late.
      Still a ridiculous contract, though.

      • Jes

        Nicely said. He’s more of a passer then a shooter. He’s always looking for the open man.

  • Kevin

    First of all lets get one thing out of the way. When DR picked him and offered him a the big contract, Anybody would have said “hell yea” It’s on DR that he got “fools gold” for his money. Having to live up to a big paycheck isn’t easy in life or in sports. Second I don’t think he is made of glass, although its easy to label him as such. I more feel its bad luck. It happens and injures happen to all levels of talent. I could name a handful of players not living up to their contracts as well – yes they are smaller contracts – but the analogy is the same..I also feel he has improved his play under Nolan and has played well of late, and then Nolan benches him. I don’t get it.

    • http://SabreNoise.com/ Richard Spalding

      I don’t blame him for signing the contract, but I cannot blame fans for expecting more, either. I think he’s playing better, too, so his benching is really bad timing. I really want to see him score some goals this season!

  • Craig C.

    It might have been a tongue-in-cheek article but, frankly, I think Leino has been unfairly targeted since Day One. When he’s been healthy enough to play, I’ve seen him set up countless teammates with great passes, only to have them wasted by pitiful linemates. Was he overpaid? Sure…..but is that his fault?

    • http://SabreNoise.com/ Richard Spalding

      I honestly want to see him score, and it’s true about his Corsi and Fenwick numbers.

  • Dano

    I’ll be nice and ‘ support ‘ Leino. I hold the door so it doesnt swing at him when hes on the way out. Gimme a Russian over him!

    “Look: if you haven’t noticed a change in Leino’s play since Ted Nolan came into town, then you’re blind. Or a Boston Bruins fan. ”

    Please dont disrespect the blind! They didnt choose their handicap. ;)

    • http://SabreNoise.com/ Richard Spalding

      Ha ha – I appreciate that last line there!