41 games have been removed from the 2014-15 Sabres schedule. We’re halfway to the offseason, and at 14-24-3, everything is going as expected.
Some good ideas up there from the distinguished Edward R. Murrow.
Meanwhile, the Internet is quickly filling up with articles bemoaning the Sabres’ tank job, which is now stretching woefully into its second season. It’s the greatest talent heist of all time to some, and it’s downright criminally loathsome to others.
We argue a lot over this team on the social medias. We berate the coach. We scratch our heads over line combinations, and what it might take to get this team to score again. Some people throw their arms up in surrender, and question “How is one guy gonna’ change this team, anyway?” Everything is in question.
So many questions, and so many arguing over the answers – sounds like we’re all pretty lost.
Meanwhile, my kid woke me up early this morning to tell me that there’s another game tonight.
It’s the kind of wake up call that all of us older fans need. Obviously, this team isn’t built to win this season. It’s likely not going to win for another year or three. Sure, a couple trades and UFA signings could accelerate the process after GMTM is awarded McEichel at season’s end – but it’s not all about us big kids anymore. This coming team, and the trophy that it will hopefully bring home, won’t be for us. Not so much as it will be for our kids.
Remember Old Downtown? The utter futility of it all. Main Street was deceased. There was a beautiful view of the “waterfront:” there were always some cool old ships down there that you could see as you over them on the Skyway. Things are changing. There’s a new courthouse in town. The Burchfield Penny Art Museum opened up, and the Albright Knox is expanding. People are taking exits off Rt. 5 on their way down to the Southtowns just so they can drive along all the new, beautiful parks. Canalside was built, and is thriving. More canals and more pedestrian bridges have been erected at the old Aud site, and they look gorgeous. Old grain elevators are now art installations, climbing destinations, and giant beer cans. An Explore and More chilren’s museum is on the way. I haven’t even mentioned HARBORCENTER yet: the only 3 rink NHL venue of its kind. Pegula mentioned plans to eventually build a new home for the Bills downtown – and I can’t wait to see what that advent brings to Buffalo after what we saw with the FNC and HARBORCENTER.
The downtown Buffalo that we had to grow up and endure is gone. It will never be known by our kids. What they will have is something vibrant, something dynamic, alive, and victorious.
Which brings me back to that hockey team we’ve been sweating about. The Sabres our kids will know are going to be a keckuva lot of fun. The system is loaded with prospects, and will add even more talent – McEichel aside – through their myriad of draft picks and the trades those can haul into town. We oldies have had some great times. The French Connection years, the magic of LaFontaine and Mogilny, 1999, and the heroic Drury and Briere teams. Since then, we’ve been mainly upset all of the time.
The Sabres have stressed patience to the fan base. Makes sense. But a huge chunk of the fan base doesn’t care about patience, the goal scoring, the coaching, or the losses. That’s the chunk that still wakes us up early to tell us there’s a hockey game tonight.
This new team is theirs, and I’m more than happy to pass it on to them. It only seems fitting, as they will also be growing up with that new downtown of theirs.
The new generation of Sabres fans doesn’t care about our suffering, and hopefully, it won’t ever have to endure what we’re going through right now. Once GMTM is done assembling his final roster, it will win and be pretty steadily competitive in the coming decades – the new downtown will ensure that more talent will actually want to play here. Imagine that.
So, I’ve made the choice to take a step back, and view this season in two ways:
1. We’re losing. Losing ugly. But that’s OK. This was the plan. Finishing in last is the end game goal. Finishing 5th last would be a disaster. Stay the course, give a cheer for the rooks, and breathe.
2. Try to watch the games through a kid’s eyes. Root and cheer and give up your worries. The victories aren’t here, but the talent is on its way, and the wins will follow soon enough.
All that being said, I need to log off and take a nap.
I hear there’s a big game tonight that I need to rest up for.
Hello again, guys.
Remember that first letter I sent you in February of 2012? No? Oh. Well, most of you were traded away since then. So, for all the new guys donning the blue and gold, here’s a tip I sent before (and before, and that other time before, and then most recently):
Without wasting your time on a wordy lede, here’s 3 ways the Sabres can make a big step forward in their quest for a Stanley Cup today.
This has been my dream scenario for the draft.
Reinhart has the highest IQ of this draft, along with arguably the best passing abilities (as Kevin Devine said, plausibly the best passer to come into the draft in the last 10-15 years). Add a complimentary player in Nikolaj Ehlers, widely considered as one of the top finishers in the CHL, and you’ve got a recipe for lots of goals.
Of course we need goals, but it goes deeper than that.
For CHL players, Reinhart is at the top of his prospect pool for time on ice while playing shorthanded (66.6%). He’s fourth in power play time (77.3%).
Meanwhile, Ehlers has been knocked around in articles and posts stating that his stats may be inflated playing alongside Jonathan Drouin – but a great majority of Ehlers’ even strength numbers (about 70%) came with Drouin on the bench. His goals for % at even strength tops the CHL class (76.7%), and he is ranked quite high in plenty of other offensive categories (hit the link and do some sorting by category, you might be surprised).
Finding a way to get back into the top 10 (or maybe even a bit higher than that) would be very hard – but not impossible. A Reinhart-Ehlers combination could be the best 1-2 value in this year’s draft.
2. Give me a Sam (or Leon), and Barbashev
It takes a number of years for prospects to make it to the NHL. With all the accumulating youth, getting more than one first rounder this year makes an awful lot of sense in making the team better sooner.
I’d be satisfied with either Sam at #2 (or Leon Draisaitl – I trust Murray in his talent evaluation), but I’d be happy if they found a way back in to get that extra guy.
For me, Barbashev is that guy. His motor is relentless (not so much as Girgensons, but about as close as you get in this draft class), he’s an all-zones and all-situations guy, and he can score. Again, I trust Murray to make the right pick, so take my preference as simply that. There are plenty of names that should be available in the mid-first (McCann, Fiala, Fabbri, Larkin, Tuch – and more) that we’d all be pretty thrilled with coming out of today.
Get me two guys. Make me happy.
Once touted as a talent on par with Connor McDavid, Ho-Sang has seen his stock fall almost as dramatically as he plays the game. His crimes? Speaking his mind. Being too honest. Oversharing his opinions.
I’d like to extend a hearty “thanks” to Joshua for compiling this criminal record, because it might help him slide to the Sabres in the second round (or of course, they could trade up for him if they are that interested). Plausibly the most talented player in this draft – an absolute wizard with the puck – Ho-Sang is a player that could be the steal of the draft, and would make for some ridiculously entertaining articles from the local rag and for some really spicy hot sports takes on the local radio waves.
Again, we need goals – but we also need to find the edge of our seats again at the FNC. This guy could challenge for the headline marquee for both in Buffalo.
Tonite is going to be a blast. A rebuild is a tough thing to endure, but this is one of the best parts. It’s time to start dreaming.