It’s hard to figure out where we go from here.
It’s very difficult to envision what direction the Sabres are heading in as they now skate headlong into a rebuild. But that uncertainty is nothing new. This team has lacked direction for a good while now.
We had a great coach in Lindy Ruff, and a strong contingent of reliable, inveterate players.
But something went wrong.
After his departure, Jordan Leopold described the Buffalo locker room as “chaos.”
So what the happened? How does this all get fixed? These kinds of questions should never be a part of the discussion for a pro franchise. Leaders – be they coaches or team captains – are the guys who are supposed to have all the answers before the locker room, media, or fan base need to ask the questions.
The leaders on the Sabres failed in that capacity.
Jason Pominville wore the C. He was the most consistent player on the most inconsistent team. The offense couldn’t follow his routine on the ice, and whatever he said in the locker room didn’t translate well, either.
The other remaining leaders on the team, Thomas Vanek and Ryan Miller, have both voiced their desire to be moved to new teams if this is going to be a long rebuild. In other words, they have no faith in the system. No faith in management, the team, or their teammates, to turn this thing around quickly.
Are those the kind of leaders that we want in a rebuild, long or short?
What this team needs is confidence. Insistent, boisterous hockey players who can help lift the talent in the club up now. The Sabres don’t need guys who would wait to see what the team looks like after the draft, or after trades. This group needs glue, and Vanek and Miller’s remarks are sentiments that are nothing but more damage on a team that is already deeply rattled.
A locker room of chaos and an on-ice product that was much the same: that’s what we had this season with Pommers, Vanek, Miller, Regehr, Leopold, Hecht, and Ehrhoff in the lineup. It doesn’t make much sense. That’s a hearty group of guys that should have easily been able to stabilize the locker room and win enough hockey games to get the Blue and Gold into the playoffs. They didn’t. They were a paper tiger.
Regier was quick to ship out his veterans at the deadline. All that remain are doubting Thomas, Miller, and Ehrhoff (with Hecht retiring with his family back to their home in Germany). I don’t think there is a coincidence here: the Sabres fell down hard when the names on that roster became real voices in the locker room, and real teammates on the ice.
What’s left of that group is a couple guys who want to find a way out of town. If I’m Darcy Regier, I wish them well and grant their wishes. It’s time to move on from proven failure, and find new heart for this team.
We don’t need guys shaking their heads after a loss, wondering why the effort just wasn’t there. We don’t need players that spend any amount of time talking about how to get more cheers than boos out of the audience at the FNC. And we certainly don’t need players that are just looking for a way out of town.
What we do need is cohesion. We need everyone from the owner to the management, from the coach to the players, and all the way down to the media and fans to buy in.
The next leaders to make that happen may already be in the Sabres’ pipeline. They may arrive via the draft, or by trade(s). It doesn’t really matter. It is just time to move on, remove all the doubt, and allow for a new bloom of confidence and belief.
And that’s where we go, as grey and foggy as that future may be.
It’s time to take a leap of confidence.
WE CAN’T GET PAST THE FIRST ROUND.
WE CAN’T GET PAST THE FIRST ROUND.
WE CAN’T GET PAST THE FIRST ROUND.
(Repeat ten times, in total. Or maybe eleven. Depends on your Sabres calandar.)
WE WILL NEVER GET PAST THE FIRST ROUND.
WE ARE CURSED.
THE JIM LORENTZ BAT CURSE.
TRADING DANNY GARE CURSE.
DRAFTING SEILING INSTEAD OF BOSSY CURSE.
TRADING MIKE FOLIGNO CURSE.
TRADING ALL THOSE GUYS CURSE (seriously, Lindy to the Rags for a 2nd that became Smehlik? That’s HERESY).
Sound familiar? It should. Losing hockey teams have a lot in common: key players go to better rinks, and so the fans evoke the good ol’ Hockey Gods, and all the ridiculous curses. Oh wait, I forgot one:
EVERY TIME I WATCH/ATTEND/THINK TANGENTIALLY ABOUT A GAME, WE LOSE.
Yet we watch. No matter how murderous the play on ice becomes… we watch. Do they have therapists for cities, because daaaamn we need one.
To spare your eyes, I’ll take the all caps off for the rest of this post.
Oh, and it gets much more optimistic. Think you can handle that?
I always wanted confirmation that this really happened.
1. Brad May picks up an octopus with his stick
2. Brad May then kisses said stick
3. Brad May picks up likely the most iconic goal in Sabres history
Thanks to the wondrous social media that links us now – 20 years to the date – it’s finally confirmed.
Thousands tens of thousands every football nut with access to the Internet is preparing for the big day tomorrow – the actual NFL draft.
Mocksters all over the nation are hesitantly hitting the “publish” button on their blogs, and settling back into their chairs to wait for what can only be a hilarious response to all the stupid shit they said in their “profiles” and “hot takes” on the incoming NFL prospects.
It’s going to be a gruesome slaughter.
BOOM: the sound you will hear as every mock draft implodes after the first trade on actual draft day. Hey look, even the explosion is mocking this whole process.
“I’ve been sweating over other mock drafts for the past couple weeks,” said the Guy at the Office today. “But I’ve got an angle. I put in trades. Also, I put in 2-5 ‘alternatives’ for each pick, so I’m pretty confident that I’ll have real success tomorrow.”
There’s some hyperbole up there in that title.
Still, Pominville was the consummate core player – the most consistent player on the most inconsistent team. This is a team desperate to find consistency. The simple fact that it is willing to trade it away spells doom for the remaining vets on this team. (Or glory. Frankly, a trade to a contender isn’t such a horrible thing.)
Here’s the absolute certain future of most of our remaining vets:
Jochen Hecht – pretty sure he’ll actually survive this season, physically.
Thomas Vanek – is all sad that he lost neighbors and stuff. But people get fired from jobs and have to leave Buffalo to look for employment all the freakin’ time, so he should still just consider himself lucky Kevin Lowe paid for his family’s mortgage (for the next 5 generations). If the “rebuild” happens as quickly as it did for the Blue Jackets, he may stick around. Or not. Dollars aside, we all know he deserves a legitimate shot at a Cup.
Ryan Miller – Dude is PISSED. He wants out. I’m pretty sure he’s run out of lovely buildings to take pictures of anyway. Good luck Millsie. Hope you’re not traded to a team that has to face Crosby in the playoffs next year.
Drew Stafford – amnesty buyout.
Ville Leino – will compete hard for Stafford’s amnesty buyout.
Gerbe – will reap the rewards of the aforementioned amnesty buyout. Or be cut.
All the rest – need a new coach/GM.
Should be fun.