0Posted by John Monahan on February 17, 2012 at 8:52 am
That’s what this year has been.
We were teased with a competitive team after the offseason. Then teased again when the Sabres put together a short winning streak in late January/early February.
No not that kind of a tease.
After the 7-2 absolute drubbing at the hands of the hated Flyers, we now know there is no hope for this team, this year. Well, of course many of us knew before this, but some of us held out the slightest glimmer of hope. I did.
We were teased last year with the 16-4-4 run to end the season and make the playoffs… only to be crushed at the hands of those very same hated Flyers. Now we know that the run to the playoffs was more flukey than being eliminated in the 1st round and the record the Sabres currently hold (24-27-6).
The combination of the bad record despite the high expectations, the mediocre play on the ice, the Lucic Incident and issues of softness, and the TV problems with Time Warner make this season a difficult pill to swallow for Sabres fans.
Cleanup was indeed needed after the Sabres D soiled themselves in the 2nd period against the Flyers.
Lindy Ruff’s birthday is today but the celebration of his day has to be marred by where this franchise is at. This was supposed to be a mecca of hockey. A return to greatness. No, not even a return to greatness, but something better than we’d had in the past. Pegula labeled it “Hockey Heaven” – claimed a Stanley Cup was in our future. We got the Amerks back in the fold, got coaches entrenched that could coach Lindy’s “System”, the whole deal.
Pegula, Ted Black and the rest of the Sabres brass has consistently said we need to stay the course, to do nothing drastic.
At this point, even they have to see that something needs to be done. Questions come up about the coaching, about the general manager and about the heart of some of the players.
I don’t know what the answer is, but I don’t think we can just stay pat with the cards we’re holding. Perhaps it’s as simple as a trade or two now and build towards next year. Maybe it’s as drastic as firing Lindy Ruff.
After all, the team seems to embody his “nothing is wrong, we’ll get through this” mentality. Yes, it’s good for a coach to keep an even keel, but sometimes you need to light a fire under the guys.
Maybe Lindy does that, I don’t know as I’m not close enough to the team. All I know is that I see some guys on the ice who aren’t giving their all. I know that Lindy has had years of chances with different versions of this team and he hasn’t won a championship. There’s two sides to that coin: a) He’s done well over the years and gotten us deep in the playoffs b) It’s him holding us back from doing better than we could.
THE ANSWER! Ok, not gonna happen, but it's fun to think about. More likely he'll go NASHville. These captions are horrible, but they're free, so quit yer whining.
In the end, I will have faith that “Pegula knows best”, that Ted Black and the rest of the staff are smart hockey guys and will get this thing figured out. But now we have to turn our attention to trades and a better draft pick and I don’t like that.
My apologies for the delay. Macs are great computers,but expensive when they need even the smallest thing. My plan was just to take over from where the last blog post ended, right before Corey Griswold’s question(s) that almost led to a Twitter crash ever since Beyonce announced she was pregnant.
Please enjoy! Hopefully The Buffalo News doesn’t come back on me with this post.
The gorilla in the room finally gets some attention
I know the Sabres are going through a rough patch, you know the Sabres are going through a rough patch, and don’t worry, so does Ted Black. It was a question that we were all thinking about, but finally Corey Griswold asked it. A string of questions that all came down to why are we still watching, and why should we care?
It was like the student who stood up to the teacher in a bad (or good) 80’s movie, where everyone suddenly looked from Corey to Teddy, who started off by saying the Sabres were at ” a level of frustration….duh.”
Well, at least we’re all on the same page.
While we’re all frustrated, and bombarding various social networks about our frustrations with this team, Teddy rather we take a good look at the not so bad things in the organization. For example, a year ago no one would have thought Buffalo would have gone after two of the biggest free agents on the market….not to mention a player who waived a no trade clause to come here (you’re right, that hasn’t happened before).
Having only owned/ruling the team for ten months, Mr. Black assured us that they’re about two years ahead of where they planned to be (the hot water in the girls bathroom was accomplished much sooner than planned). He said now, on July 1st, teams are calling within the first five minutes of noon time, rather than counting the tumbleweeds that blow by. Players are wanting to come here, and not only after the big teams say no.
Short of joining the line up, which Teddy did say would lead to a hat trick, Terry can’t exactly improve the success of the team itself, but we were told ” if you think Terry’s sitting there and saying ‘ I’m not doing anything else’,you haven’t been watching closely.”
He also added in that the Penguins got Crosby, Buffalo got Pegula. I’d say we win, since Terry is clear for contact.
Mike Weber and Ville Leino are giving up hockey for DJ careers
A lot of the question suggestions I had prior to attending the summit included asking about the poor music in the arena. Other than no longer caring whether or not healthy does, or does not, change everything, I’ve never noticed a problem with the music. It’s usually hard to hear over the cheering…or the booing.
Apparently, two Sabres have recently agreed with First Niagara’s lack of music quality. One of the bloggers brought up a mention about the music on Twitter, who was then put on the spot by Teddy, saying he wanted two songs from the user, and his name would be announced prior to playing them at the next home game.
However, prior to last night, we were at the brink where even the color of Lindy’s ties were ticking us off.
You don’t notice bad music in the arena when we’re winning. I know you don’t, very rarely do people actually WANT to sing Sweet Caroline
The beer tends to taste better,too.
Locker Room Tour
When Teddy first arrived, he had mentioned that if we ended in enough time, they would have taken us around the new Sabres locker room. I almost just lined up in the back of the room for that moment. All those fancy renovations, who cares if we were in a losing streak?
As far as pictures go, I did the best I could with a cell phone, limited standing around and ogling time, and others wandering about.
A timeline of the Sabres history. I'm kind of short, my apologies.It was like one of those model homes. I was half expecting someone to come out of the shower...
Teddy’s Final Thoughts
Teddy was happy to share in his appreciation for the blogging world, and mentioned how other teams should embrace those who spend hours with websites dedicated to one thing, and who ” share the passion.” Just the same, we are grateful that someone acknowledges the work we do.
Journalists are totally jealous.
All bloggers that attended were also treated to pizza and beer, and invited to stay,even though the man of the hour had to leave. However, before leaving, he did leave us all with words of encouragement, and the perfect way to end the blog post:
” We’re going to win the Stanley Cup, or die trying.”
0Posted by John Monahan on January 9, 2012 at 8:15 pm
I’m finding it very hard to write about the Sabres lately. It’s hard for a blogger to get pumped about things and all you want to do is just type, “they suck” and be done with it. But I need to break out of my slump as much as the Sabres do theirs, so I’m forging on.
It wasn’t supposed to be like this. When Pegula rode in to town on his majestic Pegasus (Pegulasus?) and waved around his magic cash wand, the Sabres were supposed to take the league by storm. It was an amazing “what the hell is happening!?” time when the Sabres were actually spending big-name free agents like Regehr and Ehrhoff. “So no Richards” then happened and the Sabres missed out on a top-line center. That was ok, as the Sabres added Ville Leino, a guy somewhat mysterious but it sounded like he had a lot of potential. And of course millions of little things were done around the arena and millions of dollars were spent on the improvements.
Maybe we'd do better if we renamed the team the Pegasuses? (Or is it Pegasii?) This is dumb, but I needed two pictures on this post. It's a personal quota thing.
But I should spare you the history lesson. You’re a Sabres fan (most likely) if you’re reading this site and you know all too well that things haven’t gone according to plan.
We can blame injuries, the coaching staff, the new additions or the old core. But it doesn’t matter. We just want the team to do well. Dammit, Pegula said we would win the Cup, so where is the team that will bring it to us?
I’m sick of being Mr. Positive. All year I’ve said to be patient, to hang in there and we’ll get through these injuries. “Let’s not do anything drastic here, let’s stay the course and let the ship right itself”, I said. I was probably one of the last holdouts on the positive train. After this long, I’m now convinced that it can’t right itself.
I don’t know what the answer is, but I do have faith in one thing: the ownership. Ted Black and Terry Pegula are at least willing to do whatever is in their power to have a winner here. At least we have that going for us, and that’s more than some other teams can say.
Another thing; we have a lot of pieces in place, a lot of players that are worth something. Maybe we don’t have the right mix but I don’t think we’re that far off. Maybe the answer is a new coach, maybe it’s trading Miller, Roy, Stafford or someone(s) else.
We're holding out for a hero. Maybe it's this guy.
Something has to change and something will change. I’m not too down because I know change is right around the corner. This may only be the prologue in the Pegula era, with the third act finally bringing home the Cup, but for right now it plain sucks.
0Posted by John Monahan on December 20, 2011 at 7:45 am
What in the H-E-double-hockey-sticks happened against the Pittsburgh Penguins? How can a team completely fall apart like that? We’re not going to make the playoffs with a team like this! We should trade Miller, Stafford and Roy, fire Regier and Ruff, burn the city to the ground and start over from scratch!
Ok, I’m overdoing it a bit. But it’s still pretty chaotic with all the injuries. Heck, even Thomas Vanek didn’t practice on Monday, sending tendrils of fear all through Sabres Nation. It’s been bad, and many are calling for heads to roll, for players to be traded, for Ruff to be fired… and worse. Wow.
A big part of the problem may be that we have a lot of history and buildup with the current team. Expectations were high even before Terry Pegula bought the team. Then he came in raised the bar even higher and said, “We’re going to hit this mark”.
Yeah, these Sabres are all over the map with their play, but that’s to be expected when your entire team consists of the entire roster of your minor league team, minus perhaps a goalie. When Lindy Ruff was asked about getting back to consistency he responded thusly:
“I don’t think you can talk about that until you get your team back,” coach Lindy Ruff said. “You’re looking at a line out there of [Evgeni] Malkin and [Chris] Kunitz, and I’ve got [Zack] Kassian, [Paul] Szczechura and Luke Adam on the ice. You’re asking a lot out of the kids, and they’ve played hard for us. But we need some bodies back.” (Source – Buffalo News)
On top of the injuries, another thing that really makes it hard for us fans right now is that we don’t know what we’ve got in this team. Unlike say, the Boston Bruins or Detroit Red Wings, we cannot unequivocally say we’re going to make the playoffs and be a real threat to go deep and win the Stanley Cup. And unlike the Columbus Bluejackets or New York Islanders we are not totally out of it and looking just to rebuild over the next year or two. No, the Sabres are… well, a pretty talented but young team with a lot of injuries.
And sure, there are a lot of negatives going on right now that we can point to as validation for hitting the panic button. For example, Ryan Miller’s stats are horrible. He has a GAA of 3.12, good for 37th in the NHL, with a save percentage of .902 (32nd in the league.) We also let a guy named Sneep score against us in his very first NHL game! Sneep! I’m sure he has a 1st name but I’d like to pretend otherwise. Sounds like a name from some children’s book. It is, you say?
The Sabres saw a Sneep. It lulled them to sleep. They barely even made a peep. They were in much too deep. (Dr. Seuss, I'm not.)
So with everything going crazy right now, some might point out the example of the Philadelphia Flyers who made some moves in the offseason that seemed insane at the time. But so far, trading Jeff Carter and Mike Richards has turned out pretty well for them. It feels good to hit the “detonate nukes” button. (It’s such a pretty, shiny, red button.) It’s easy to place the blame on one or two guys and just get rid of them.
It’s hard to not press the button.
But I don’t think we need to do that. Nor is it time to do so … yet. Now, I’m not trying to look at things through rose-colored glasses or tell you that everything is going to be just peachy (or be preachy). I’m just saying that Ted Black and crew deserve some time before we rush into destroying things that the Sabres have taken years to build. Shouldn’t Regier and Ruff get at least one full season under the new ownership to see what they can do? Haven’t they earned that? Same goes for the players.
Like Lindy Ruff teaches, perhaps we shouldn’t get too high or too low. Maybe we should just enjoy the season as it unfolds and take the long view. We’ll have some amazing hockey and some crap games as well. As the season progresses, the Sabres will hopefully gain more chemistry and consistency.
With that should come wins and a playoff spot. And if the younger guys’ streak of nastiness can mesh with the cores scoring ability? Come playoff time they could be downright dangerous. We just need to weather this storm for a while.
However … all good things come to an end. Even Scotty Bowman was fired. Of course that’s probably not a great example, as he went on to win Stanley Cups elsewhere.
See, this is the eternal debate. The team isn’t doing great so perhaps firing the head coach and bringing in a new guy will take us to the promised land. But what if Lindy Ruff is the guy for Buffalo and he isn’t really the problem? What if we fire him and he wins Stanley Cups with, I don’t know, let’s say Columbus after they fire Scott Arniel. Crazy, right? But it’s possible.
We can have this debate all year long, and it’s something that we should at least talk about. No one should be untouchable. However, it’s all moot at this point because as Tamara has pointed out, Terry Pegula adores Lindy and said that he’s not going anywhere.
Well now, if that’s not enough for you, Ted Black reinforced that point this morning in his weekly chat with WGR 550. You can listen to the full audio here. There are lots of great bits in the audio and we’ll transcribe and otherwise pick apart some of it.
[Howard Simon of WGR] How much of that (the Sabres’ philosophy of winning the Stanley Cup) includes the status of the head coach, the status of the GM and making a change in one or both of those spots if it’s necessary and is it necessary by they way?
[Ted Black] No it’s not, so it really renders the rest of the question moot.
[WGR] It’s not a moot question, don’t you think that’s an issue right now? You tell me, in your mind, in Terry Pegula’s mind there is no issue with coaching or GM at this point?
[WGR] How come?
[TB] Why well, there just isn’t. I don’t think Darcy or Lindy have injured as many players as have been injured. It’s not like we’re hopelessly out of the playoffs or hopelessly out of 1st place in our division or the conference.
Come on Ted, quit flip flopping and leaving wiggle room here. </snark> So the official word is hands down, Lindy isn’t going anywhere, he’s our guy, stop asking questions, there is no room for leeway on this matter, end of chat.
However, later in the interview he said, “We don’t live in always and never.” Ah, so you’re telling me there’s a chance!
(Yes! The second Dumb & Dumber reference in the same post! Give me some sort of imaginary blogger points! *fistpump*)
Some other snippets from the interview that should sit well with any Sabres fan:
This team is dramatically better than it was last year and we’re not done yet. We’re going to use every opportunity to improve ourselves.
On trades: You have to have a partner, and at certain points of the year there’s not a whole lot going on.
When this team is healthy, this team is very, very good.
We are going to win a Stanley Cup. It may not happen this year. It may very well happen this year. But we’re going to do it or die trying.”
On the rash of injuries having a silver lining: [We’ve learned] that these young guys that had no track record going into this year can play in the league and play at a pretty decent level.
So it’s reiterated from on high that Lindy is here to stay – at least for the forseeable future. Whether that’s a good or bad thing we may never know.
I do know this: I love Ruff as a coach. He’s “our guy”. The Pittsburgh Steelers have had only 3 coaches in their history and there’s something I like about that. Sometimes you need that steady rudder to guide you when the storm is raging all around. Could we do better? Maybe. But it’s a chance I’m not willing to take at the moment, and neither are the Sabres.