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An Open Letter to the Buffalo Sabres (Part IV)

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Hey guys.

This is my fourth letter to you regarding this subject. I’m assuming you never received the previous three.

Honestly, it was just a joke the first time (well, mostly). But c’mon guys, you’ve only netted 13 goals in 10 games, while allowing 28. Your -15 goal differential is 2nd worst in the league – but don’t let that high ranking fool you. You should be dead last.

Anyway, like I said before (and before, and that other time before):

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The Competition

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0-3-1.

Not a pretty record 4 games in, and if you believe in the October 15 point rule, our season may already be over. Of course, this is pretty much exactly what we expected heading into this rebuilding season/era.

If there is a silver lining to this early season meltdown, it’s that the Sabres have managed to keep games close on the scoreboard against some very good (and one pretty average) teams. They seem to be improving, and moving from terrible to somewhere between terrible/competitive.

Progress? Maybe.

garethLong workInProgress small 300x226 The Competition

 

Gamenite.

 

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#Suffering

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If you were up late last night, and very, very bored, you may have noticed an exchange between Joe @BuffaloWins and myself about our winless Blue and Gold.

It went something like this: I’m toting the company line by saying the Sabres can suck. I’m not hard enough on them. (Those are Joe’s opinions, paraphrased.) My counter was, well, my tweets (if you care to dig them up) and this post.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: I refuse all #suffering. And that entire hashtag suffering thing is bunk.

Let’s explore why.

suffering 204x300 #Suffering

Us. 3 games in. Really?

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The 22 Best Parts About That Sabres Game (10-2-13)

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Some of these things may actually have to do with the outcome of the game, but most won’t. Why? Because hockey is fun, and I refuse all #suffering.

So, here we go:

1. A Message From The Hockey Gods

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So this is what Rebuilding Looks Like

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I’ll preface this by reminding y’all that I have zero expectations going into this season. I’m going to be that happy go lucky (edit: annoying) guy at the bar who, after the Sabres get scored on, says something terribly unrelated to the play such as “I don’t know who I like more right now, Zemgus Girgensons or Kiko Alonso.”

Actually, right now, we’re all That Guy. At least with throw and catch sports. We’re all in on the Kiko Alonso bandwagon, as the Buffalo Bills’ rebuilding product stretches into its 3rd or 4th or 5th generation. They’re 2-2, and look like they’re just good enough again to reach the middle of the pack, but we’re enjoying the ride. We’re enjoying watching the young guys chase the pigskin up and down the field.

I’m not saying that we’re suckers for buying into an inferior product. I’m saying that, for the most part, we’ve learned to embrace what it is, for what it is. We’ve been losing for a while. But unlike other fanbases whose teams try to rope them into the stadium by giving away free beer (-!!!), the sport and the goodtimes and the camaraderie and the drunken laughs and the city-wide venting post-loss or back-patting post-victory is, well, fun – and all of that is pretty great, here.

Somehow, “Happiness in Slavery” by Nine Inch Nails just popped into my head. But whatever. Kiko Alonso and Robert Woods and EJ Manuel, amirite? Those names bring the cheesy classic rock tailgate music right back and I’m all good again.

The Sabres have worked pretty hard to remain just ahead of the Bills in terms of beating mediocrity. Icing a mixed bag of hastily thrown together trade deadline imports and hopeful draft picks along with the remnants of the heroic 05-06 and 06-07 seasons has given Buffalo fans some limited success, and some very unlimited stress.

This year looks to be the worst yet. But I couldn’t be happier about it. Here’s a look into the mind of hockey visionary Corey Pronman from Hockey Prospectus, on our prospects this season:

Dead last. This is what rebuilding looks like on paper. It’s probably going to stay that way all season long. Places like [BN] and the Sabres’ Facebook comments sections are going to be possibly the loneliest places on the planet (the latter likely going to resemble a jumping off point for suicidal fans who are giving all of their fandom up forever because Darcy/DruryBriere/CoCaptains/Sabers).

Yes, I spelled that wrong on purpose.

Avoid those places, for the most part – because this is what rebuilding will look like on the ice:

Grigorenko Foligno So this is what Rebuilding Looks Like

BLISS. (And also currently going for a hefty $12.99 on Ebay.)

There aren’t going to be many great games this season. We all know that already. Still, there are going to be many great moments.

This is what hockey is about – those special moments that make you jump out of your seat and want to hug weird, smelly strangers that smell like beer and nachos. We’ll have plenty of moments. We’ll have plenty to cheer about. It might not look great on paper, but as we go through this thing, for the long term, it should give us the youthful promise we’re all looking for with this rebuild. We’re going to be good, maybe even great. We just need to be able to be sit in our seats and have fun as the team matures, and gets better, and better.

Take heart: the Sabres will get there.

Really, that should be good enough.

At least for one quick year.

Go Sabres.

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