“Cleared out to centre ice to Pominville, Pominville into Ottawa territory, Pominville goes around Alfredsson, cuts in front, SCORES! JASON POMINVILLE! SHORTHANDED! Oh now do you believe! Now do you believe! These guys are good! Scary good!”
That ever-so-famous call by Rick Jeanneret on Jason Pominville’s shorthanded, overtime clincher versus the Ottawa Senators still gives me chills to this day. That goal pushed the Buffalo Sabres into the Eastern Conference Finals, and cemented Pominville’s status in Buffalo sports lore.
As Jason Pominville enters his 1000th NHL contest this evening, let’s take a look into his career thus far:
Pominville, in his second stint as a Sabre, was originally a second round pick, 55th overall, by Buffalo in 2001. He finally cracked the big squad in 2005-06, where he played in 57 games, tallying 30 points and 22 penalty minutes. The 2005-06 playoffs were his coming out party, however, where he scored five goals and added five assists in 18 games.
Pominville was one of the bigger centerpieces for the Sabres on their consecutive Eastern Conference Final appearances between 2005-06 and 2006-07, where he was relied upon to add scoring as well as being a key contributor in the defensive zone. Back in those days, you could usually find him on a line with Jochen Hecht and Danny Briere.
After the back to back deep playoff runs, the Sabres as a team began to deteriorate, after the loss of both Chris Drury and Daniel Briere via free agency. Heading into the 2007-08 season, Pominville was looked upon to be the new leader of the team, based off his experience and seniority on the roster. Soon after, he was named team captain for the months of March and April of 2008.
During the Sabres last playoff run in April of 2011, Pominville found himself in more of a veteran role, wearing the “C” on a full time basis (2011-2013) and helping mentor the younger core of players, such as Tyler Ennis and Tyler Myers. Buffalo made a quick exit, however, losing to the Philadelphia Flyers in seven games. Soon after that season, Buffalo decided it would strip down its roster of aging players on hefty salaries, and replace them with role players and draft picks.
Sadly, Pominville was dealt to the Minnesota Wild at the 2013 NHL Trade Deadline, in exchange for Johan Larsson, Matt Hackett, as well as two draft picks. He was one of the last core pieces moved, as Ryan Miller and Derek Roy had departed for St. Louis and Dallas respectively, along with Thomas Vanek dealt early on in the 2013-14 season to the New York Islanders.
Pominville didn’t skip a beat his first season for the Wild, scoring 30 goals and 30 assists for 60 points to lead the team. However, his production began to taper off as he found himself behind the likes of Nino Neiderriter and Mikael Granlund on the depth chart. The Wild were able to make the playoffs each of the 4 seasons he was there, but never could make it past the second round.
On June 24th, 2017, he was re-acquired in a trade with the Wild, as he and defenceman Marco Scandella joined the Buffalo Sabres, while Marcus Foligno and Tyler Ennis boarded a plane headed for Minnesota. In his first year back in the 716, Pominville struggled to adapt to the pace of players like Jack Eichel and Sam Reinhart, thus reflecting in his ice time and points.
Heading into the 2018-19 season, it’s seemed as if he was determined to make a difference both on and off the ice, as his dedication to the game has earned him a spot on Jack Eichel’s wing. The best part is that he hasn’t looked out of place, and is scoring at an impressive rate for a 35 year old winger. Through 12 games thus far, he’s scored five goals and added five assists for ten points, and hasn’t shown any signs of slowing down. If he can maintain this pace throughout the remainder of the season, the Sabres will be getting pretty good value out of an aging winger on a large deal.
As he enters the final year of a five year deal that pays him $5.6 million AAV, it’s yet to be seen whether he will remain with Buffalo next season, sign with another team in free agency, or decide to hang up the skates. Whichever option he chooses, I’m certain Sabres fans will back it 100%. Not only has he been a serviceable player on the ice, his off-ice activities truly show who he is as a person and as a professional. You’d be hard pressed to find a player with as much generosity, and the will to place a smile on someone’s face as much as he does.
If this is his final season as a member of the Buffalo Sabres, I’d like to take this chance to thank Jason Pominville for all of his contributions both on and off the ice, and wish him nothing but the best in all of his future endeavors. Who knows, he may even find himself in a role within the organization very soon. Here’s hoping, anyways.
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