The Buffalo Sabres have asked their fans to be patient, and that injuries were the primary reason that the team has slid from the top of the playoff picture to one of the bubble teams.
It is the same conversation we have year in and year out in almost every watering hole and fan gathering place throughout Western New York and beyond.
Everywhere else in the NHL, a team that reaches inconsistent play or worse makes a change to shakeup the organization, either on the bench or behind the bench. Those teams usually turn the corner and move on to greener pastures. The Montreal Canadiens become the latest team to make a change at the helm in order to spark a resurgence. The Buffalo Sabres however, seem content to be stuck on non-competitive mediocrity.
The root of the organizations problems start with the franchise tenured general manager and head coach. Darcy Regier is married to a roster of players that consistently underperforms; and rarely makes a deal out of the trade deadline. Anticipation soared when the proverbial cuffs were removed from Regier – and it seemed we were in for greener pastures last year with the Boyes deal – only to see the team relinquished to sitting idle while they fall in the standings.
Last nights game was a pure showing of a team not listening to their coach, or at least tuning him out. While the Sabres lost two more to injury, the Buffalo Sabres were behind in this game against the Pittsburgh Penguins before they knew what hit them, and once again Ryan Miller was chased from the paint after allowing three goals on less than ten shots. This team is just not ready for games more often than not – that falls on the coaches hand. Sick of the “could have beens” was the response from the longest tenured coach in the National Hockey league after the Sabres gave up the lead and the game to the Ottawa Senators. I would be more sick of allowing eight goals to a team that has struggled to win since losing their captain to the injured list once again. The Sabres need a coach that can motivate in situations – not just get sick of a team that plays like two points don’t matter in a league where only 13 points seperate the top team from the bubble teams.
Lindy Ruff and Darcy Regier have bee with this organization through many ups and downs, first joining the organization in the end of the Knox era, surviving the Rigas era, idolize in the Golisano era, and now deemed untouchable in the Pegula era.
While most fans are willing to be patient, the losing has to come to an end, and the bleeding must be stopped, or the Buffalo Sabres are going to start taking a hit at the ticket booth, with hockey heaven seeming less and less like a destination than just another place to play in a team of 30 cities. The Buffalo Sabres have taken steps to be the premier destination for free agents in the NHL by upgrading their amenities. They will never be able to land players tat want to play in markets like New York or Montreal, but they can change the culture to attract players that want to win – and bring them here without overpaying. Right now, they are just the same old Buffalo Sabres, albeit with a deeper wallet.