Tim Connolly was supposed to replace the void on this team that former Sabres great and fan favorite Pat Lafontaine. Lafontaine, who played for the Buffalo Sabres from the New York Islanders in 1991. His passion and and heart for the game was shown on the final night in the Aud, as he shed tears watching the banners come down in that historic arena, despite having no connection to the teams that put those banners in the rafters.
Pat Lafontaine was a statesmen. Not only was he an incredible hockey player, but his reach went farther than that, Lafontaine reached into the stands, and touched the fans of the Buffalo area, not only because of how he played the game, but the reaction to the city – his ability to embrace not only the Buffalo Sabres organization, but as his new “home” city as well.
Connolly had all those things going for him when he came to Buffalo in the 2001-2002 campaign. The Sabres were still searching for a player for fans to identify with the way they had with Lafontaine. numerous injuries have prevented Connolly from reaching his true potential, and I have to agree with Sabres beat reporter Paul Hamilton, injuries have made him extremely gun shy, afraid to play the game the way he knows how.
This inability caused him to be a speck on the roster when it came time for the Sabres to play in the post season this year, and he has drawn the ire of not only the sports fan in Buffalo – but also the media as well, as it appears Connolly’s time in Buffalo is nearing an end.
The question is however, will the Sabres be able to move the 4.5 million dollar salary on a player who, just can’t cut it anymore in the NHL, or will they be forced to choke down another season of Connolly style hockey (Lord knows they are too cheap to just buy him out and say good riddens – and I don’t say cheap in a bad way, its just not the way they do business).
The Sabres are still in search of a long term statesmen, and a quality player who will be worth the heart he wears on his sleeve, without getting it broken.