Ted Black met with reporters today, while attending the NHL Board of Governors meetings in Ottawa, location of the NHL All-Star Game (to be played Sunday) and Skills Competition (which will be held tonight).
The focus, for Sabres fans, has been on All-Star right-winger Jason Pominville (who will be playing in his first career All-Star Game) and rookie forward Luke Adam (who will be participating in the “Hardest Shot Competition” tonight).
After hearing Mr. Black’s comments, though, my focus is on him.
Black wouldn’t rule out a late-season run towards the playoffs, and is not giving up just yet.
“…you never know where the seeds of greatness are going to be planted. So I wouldn’t say it’s a lost season because that would suggest somehow we’re abandoning our efforts, and we’re not.”
He says the blame lies with the sub-par statistical seasons the majority of his players are having.
“It’s a tough year. Guys are just on pace to have career-low years in key categories such as goals. If you had a team that had Lemieux, Gretzky, Orr and Howe, and imported their worst statistical years, you’d probably have a team that wasn’t going to make the playoffs. There’s no slight to those great players, the fact is every player has a career-best year, and every player has a career-worst year. Unfortunately, we’ve got a lot of guys that are on track to have their worst year on the same team in the same year.”
And, with much due respect, that’s where you lost me, Ted.
There is a reason that three-quarters of your roster are going to have career-worst statistical seasons, and it’s not just because.
Many believe that there is something going on in that locker room that you, nor I, are privy to. You don’t have to be a member of MENSA, or even employed within the Sabres organization, to see it. I’ve seen, and experienced (heck, we all have), what happens when members of a supposed team don’t work together, for whatever reasons. These players aren’t playing for the coach, for each other, or for the crest on their jerseys. How many times do I have to watch a Sabres player (Paul Gaustad was the latest victim) get smoked by an opponent, with no repercussions or response from anyone wearing blue and gold?
They have quit on each other as teammates, and I wouldn’t be surprised if there was a growing rift in the locker room.
It is not just a coincidence regarding the poor stat lines for these players, Mr. Black. Sabres management would like to, and have us, think so. But, it has got to go much deeper than that, and until someone gets to the bottom of (and fixes) the problems down at One Seymour Knox III Plaza, that’s exactly where this team will be.
At the bottom.
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