The Roar of the Crowd
There’s been a lot of noise surrounding the Buffalo Sabres this season.
The team currently is maligned with a 5-8-1 record – just good enough to be 4 points out of 8th place, and just good enough to be last in the Eastern Conference. Lindy Ruff is eager to wake his team up and get them winning again, telling the media that he’s “not done trying,” and that the team will “feed off his energy.”
Another late season playoff push? I’m tired of those perennial, desperate heroics. I’m also tired of regressing players, imploding players, and players becoming busts in the B-lo. I’m tired of giveaways. Tired of a porous team-wide defensive “system.” Tired of watching herculean performances from Vanek, Pominville, and Miller get swallowed up by the game nite ice surface which seems to turn mushy as the rest of the squad chews it up with sloppy skating, sloppy passes, and sloppy confidence.
We’re all oh, so tired.
The fan base has been deafening in its silence at the FNC for a while now. That fact has been thrown in the face of the fans a lot. The FNC is a “morgue.” A “library.” Ted Black has defended our silence by labeling it as “hockey IQ.” If that hasn’t turned out to be embarrassing enough, he and the Sabres have continuously held blogger summits that limit the questioning to “game presentation” and to other “off ice” debate – as if any of that is important, or needs change, in any way.
So long as the losing culture on the ice continues, the arena will remain quiet. Stop trying to tease the fans with gimmicks and taunts. This is a sport. Not a laboratory.
No one cares about game presentation anymore. Folks just want a real game on the ice. Yea, fans are quiet at the arena, but what would you expect? How can you root for this?
Actually, the fans have been loud. They’ve been deafening.
Meanwhile, throughout this long, tormenting odyssey, they set ticket sales and television rating records. They fill up the local bars during “Hockey Mobs” and “Basement Brigade” parties.
They’ve called for the head of Lindy Ruff in droves (I’ve never actually seen such solidarity to axe the man between the fan base, bloggers, and MSM before). Darcy Regier isn’t safe from the mobs, either, so long as his draft picks don’t match up with Ruff’s system, the team will continue to lose.
They are yelling about Drew Stafford. Lindy tells him to go to the net. He doesn’t go to the net. It’s infuriating, isn’t it?
They argue about trades and draft picks. They clamour and yell for Darcy Regier to pull the trigger and bring Ryan O’Reilly to town (conveniently, for now, forgetting that every GM would love to put and offer together for ROR, and that the Avs would be out of their minds to let him go).
They talk, they sweat, and they fret over Tyler Myers.
They bellow at the top of their lungs about how much ice time Jochen Hecht is getting.
They snap at each other about the importance of faceoffs.
They suddenly aren’t so enamored with Nathan Gerbe anymore. Even an entertaining cannonball shooting up and down the ice gets tiresome. One dimensional is one dimensional, despite the effort.
They scream “FREE GRIGORENKO!” as if the young rookie is going to change the pace, tenor, or outcome of the games. It’s something fans now must do, looking for a new identity of hope in desperate times.
They talk, they yell, they fret, and they scream about so many things these days. Sadly, none of those things can be win related.
The fan noise is there. Hell, this team is easy to yell about, isn’t it?
But impossible to root for.
The noise is there, Sabres. It’s all around you. If it’s too quiet at the FNC, then consider that silence as deafening. The Sabres’ fanbase is makin’ a racket all across town. Once there is a winning product on the ice, all that noise will come flooding back into the building.
For now, we’re inclined to just listen for a while, if you don’t mind. Let us know when you’re ready for us to cheer again.
Update: per a tweet from Dave Davis (of Kukla’s Korner), Black was willing to take on the hardball questions at the last summit, and was surprised he didn’t get more of them. We’d have brought some punchy Q’s, but alas, we did not get an invite this time around.
There’s always next year. Amirite?