It all started in late December. Rumors. We are getting a new owner. As much as the Sabres management tried to quell the rumors and put it to rest that the team wasn’t for sale; we all watched as the team on the ice started playing better, the team (management) off the ice was up to something. Then finally the ice broke and Terry Pegula was the new owner of the Buffalo Sabres. In a press conference full of questions, answers, tears, and jubilation – the Buffalo Sabres went from a team in the National Hockey League just looking to at least break even – to a team destined to win a Stanley Cup.
The French Connection was back together; the alumni was a part of the picture. The Buffalo Sabres on ice product was clicking at a pace that no team could match this side of the calendar year. And then we lost a famed member of this organization, no – this community. Rico – may you rest in peace – but don’t be too peaceful – any help you can bring to the ice now that you have heavenly powers would be much appreciated.
As this team ages, the alumni are not getting any younger. We are going to lose more of our childhood heroes, more legends of blue and gold. Let’s try to put a banner up in the rafters that means something. Six teams a year raise a banner when they win their division, two teams raise conference banners – lets be the only team that raises a Stanley Cup banner one of these years in the near future before the band starts to fall apart.
Tonight is fan appreciation night. All too many seasons we have seen the boys of winter skate to center ice to chats of Thank You Sabres, knowing that there was little or no hockey remaining for the Buffalo Sabres. Tonight, not only can there be more hockey played at the foot of Washington Street, but we can clinch a playoff spot in front of the near 100 alumni that will be in attendance tonight. If this team has been feeding off the new ownership energy since rumors started swirling, the locker room should be a buzz tonight.
The Buffalo Sabres are heading into the playoffs with probably the most dangerous goaltending duo in the NHL right now. Olympic caliber goaltending from Ryan Miller, and super-human backup play from Jhonas Enroth has not only placed Patrick Lalime on the outside looking in – but has positioned this team to make the playoffs; something that looked more like an imagination creation the first three or four months of the season.
Our youngsters have filled the roles this year we have needed them to fill. Some of our veterans have stepped up and succeeded in earning the respect given to them because of their veteran status. Some deadweight is gone, some new blood has emerged.
Ladies and Gentlemen, its going to be a very playoff like atmosphere in downtown Buffalo tonight, and what a better team to bring into town for the festivities but the Philadelphia Flyers. The Flyers are still in the hunt for first place in their division and in the conference, so expect some spirit and energy out of them tonight as well.
As much hoopla is being put into tonights game, the Buffalo Sabres still play tomorrow night, and while the playoff picture could be settled by the time the Sabres play against Columbus, the game still has some serious implications. Mary and I have a bet going for Saturday’s game, and while not as drastic as having to dye my hair red – or as funny as watching Kristina wear an I <3 Buffalo Sabres shirt through Raleigh, the winning writer from Saturday will get to pick the picture and place that the loser has to “tattoo” on them. Now its just a sharpie tattoo, nothing permanent – but it will be photographed and placed on the internet for the world to see that a die hard fan of one team has been temporarily branded with another teams colors.
I am open to suggestions on what to select as the item being tattoo’d as well as suggestions on what I should have her tattoo – you can post them to this article or you can email them to me at [email protected].