Answer: Turn off the XBOX.
Don’t you love jokes like that? I was asked that question on Twitter by a relative just the other day. I have since disowned her and the rest of her immediate family, yet the joke continues to eat away at me. Surely there are other signs of a successful NHL franchise, other than the obvious bringing home of Lord Stanley’s Cup – right? Other ways the Buffalo Sabres can earn some respect and cease to be the butt of such idiotic jokes? Has everyone forgotten about the iconic French Connection line that led the Sabres to six playoff appearances, and one Stanley Cup Finals, between 1973-1979? How about the Sabres’ six divisional championships and six trips to the conference finals? Or the Stanley Cup Finals trip led by none other than Dominik Hasek, the Dominator, one of hockey’s all-time greatest goalies, himself? Not bad for a club that was an expansion team as recently as 1971.
And yet, none of that, or any of Buffalo’s storied history, seems to matter. In order to get respect, you have to have won the Cup.
The absolute worst part of all of this is that perceptions based on the past often obscure people from fairly assessing the team that is currently playing. All you need as proof of this phenomena is to head over to Fox Sports and check out their latest NHL Power Rankings. Looking for Buffalo? You’re going to have to scroll down . . . down . . . just a little bit more now . . . there you go! The Sabres, one of only six undefeated teams in hockey right now, are currently ranked 22nd by Fox Sports. Hmmm. And the Flyers team that Buffalo flung forty shots at and netted five goals on in their home opener? They are ranked 8th! With an 0-3 record! After two games, both victories, the Sabres did not improve their standing in the eyes of the experts over at Fox Sports at all. Maybe the ranking really haven’t changed since the season is still just starting, you say? Not enough games played to really make any moves, eh? That wouldn’t explain why Pittsburgh, Chicago, Boston, Minnesota, San Jose, Anaheim, Edmonton, Florida, Dallas, and Toronto all improved their worth in the eyes of Fox Sports.
Hey: I’m a realistic guy. A down-to-earth guy. A fair guy, if you ignore the whole “I disowned a part of my family” thing. I don’t expect a record of 2-0 to make people proclaim “This is the year the Buffalo Sabres win it all!” I don’t expect a record of 2-0 to make everyone shoot Buffalo into the upper echelon of their power rankings. I simply expect sports experts who create these rankings to have a sense of perspective about them. Right now, this isn’t the Buffalo Sabres who have failed to win a Stanley Cup in 40 years of existence. Right now, this isn’t even the Buffalo Sabres of last year. Right now, this is a Sabres team that is undefeated, a Sabres team that was clearly better than the Philadelphia Flyers less than a week ago. Ranking them 22nd in the NHL is laughable, but ranking them 14 spots below a team that they dismantled – a winless team, I remind you – is a total slap in the face. I guess I should thank Fox Sports for giving the Sabres a little extra motivation, but I’d rather see our boys be given the credit they deserve.
Seems like when it comes to Fox Sports, the Buffalo Sabres and the late Rodney Dangerfield have one thing in common:
Fortunately, there are more “fair and balanced” writers covering the NHL today; check out the NY Daily News’ latest rankings here, and the newest rankings from bleacher report here. Of course, even then, you see some anti-Buffalo bias at play, as the NY Daily News has the New York Rangers (winless at the time the rankings were released; 1-2 currently) in the top ten, while Buffalo is not.
Looks like the boys in blue and gold are just going to have to bring Lord Stanley’s Cup back to Buffalo once and for all, just to get some satisfaction around here.
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