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Thank you, Jason Pominville
Jason Pominville was a natural scorer in Juniors. In his last year with the Shawinigan Cataractes, Pominville scored a total of 121 points in 66 games and became eligible for the draft. Buffalo selected him in the second round and 55th overall in the 2001 NHL entry draft. Their earlier pick in that round was #32, where they selected Derek Roy.
Jason Pominville’s American Hockey League career started immediately with the Rochester Americans in 2002-2003. He scored 96 goals and 96 assists in 239 career games in the AHL between parts of four seasons.
He ranks 21st on the Amerks all time goal scoring list. He showed an immediate presence with the puck, both with the scoring touch and playmaking ability. In his first season with the Americans, Pominville scored 34 points in 73 games.
He steadily improved his game every year, raising his point total to 64 in 2003-04, and 68 in 2004-05. Both of those years, he was able to net 30 or more goals. Pominville made his NHL debut on 12/27/03 against the Washington Capitals, but was sent right back down to the NHL after that one appearance.
In the start of his fourth season in 2005-06 the Sabres placed Pominville on waivers to start the season. Looking back, this must have lit a fire in Pominville. Once he cleared waivers and was sent to Rochester, he started off at a torrid pace in the AHL.
In the first 18 games of the season, he rattled off 19 goals and seven assists, including nine on the power play, and earned a call up to the big club on 11/4/2005. It only took Pominville two games to net his first NHL goal against the Washington Capitals, on 11/27/05. “It’s a dream come true,” Pominville said. “Hopefully, it can keep going.” (Credit to ESPN.com) He put in a strong showing in his first season, netting 30 points in 57 games.
Pominville continued with the consistency for the next 3 seasons, scoring an average of 71 points per year. This included a career high 80 in 82 games in 2007-2008. It was then that the Sabres made the decision that he had earned a spot in the core of the team, and rewarded him with to a five-year, $26.5 million extension (taking effect in 2009-2010).
The $5.3 million average salary was a substantial raise over salary he was making on his previous contract, which was around $1 million per season. It was at this time, that the franchise and the fans of the Sabres realized that Pominville was going to be a part of the teams’ core.
For the most part, Pominville was a team leader once he was rewarded with this financial stability from the team. It wasn’t too long after that he was awarded an ‘A’ for an assistant captaincy, and was given top minutes on the power play and penalty kill units.
He was also given the rotating captaincy for the months of March and April 2006. Pominville was always a clean and respectful player on the ice, and was nominated for the Lady Byng Memorial Trophy along with Pavel Datsyuk and Martin St. Louis.
In the Sabres’ 2006 playoff run, he scored the series-clinching goal in the second round against the Ottawa Senators, which was a shorthanded goal in overtime of Game 5. Rick Jeanneret made one of the most famous calls in Sabres history: “Oh, now do you believe? Now do you believe? These guys are good, scary good!”
The dependable right winger was also the Sabres iron man, having a consecutive games played streak of 335. This was broken on October 11, 2010, when he was struck from behind into the boards by Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson.
When the team started the 2011-12 season overseas in Finland, they had left Buffalo with no captain named. Once they arrived for the two games overseas, it was announced at a team dinner that Pominville would be the 16th full time captain in Sabres franchise history.
He wore it with pride, and had another very productive year with 73 points in 82 games. It seemed as though he had embraced the ‘C’, and performed and acted like a captain both on and off the ice.
Fast forward to 2012-13, in which the season was shortened by the lockout. From the minute the season started, it appeared that Pominville was not himself. He was not as strong in his end, or on the offensive side of the puck. It was noticed not only by the on air talent on MSG broadcasts, but by fans as well.
He was the core, the captain. With Buffalo’s inability to climb out of the depths and grab a playoff spot, it signaled Darcy Regier that it was possibly time to disassemble the core and move on. As you know, he was traded to the Minnesota Wild.
From playoff magic against the Senators in 2006, to the play against Ovechkin in 2012. The population of Pominville was capped at 185, with the town now set up in Minnesota.
Jason Pominville finished 14th in Sabres history in goals, 12th in assists with 256, and 13th in points at 431.
Thank you, Jason Pominville.