Oh, Pittsburgh Penguins. How I loathe you.
Seriously: I try not to get too emotionally invested in collegiate or professional sports, because at the end of the day, there is nothing any sports team is going to do that could drastically change my everyday life.
But there are some teams in life that are just too easy to hate. The Duke Blue Devils. The New York Yankees. The Los Angeles Lakers.
And yes, right now, I hate the Pittsburgh Penguins.
I could give you a list of reasons why I hate the aforementioned teams, but let’s be honest: it all boils down to the fact that we hate a winner, unless it is the winner we choose to cheer. Wanna tell me you hate Duke because they are arrogant? They are arrogant because they win. A lot. Claim you can’t stand how the Lakers get all the calls in a close game? Well, they are the second most successful franchise in NBA history; I think they’ve earned the right. No matter how we try to explain our intense dislike for these teams, it all boils down to one thing: they’re winners, and we’re jealous.
Just look at what Pittsburgh has managed to do: for starters, they are riding a 14-game winning streak. They have two of the top five players in the NHL, in Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, and beyond those guys they have at least two more All-Stars in James Neal and Chris Kunitz. They have two goaltenders who would be considered starting goalies on any team in the NHL. They have two defensemen who have already put up over 20 points already this season.
And to add insult to injury, they managed to add Brenden Morrow, Douglas Murray, and oh yeah, Jarome Iginla, to their roster, forwhat amounts to a hand shake and the promise of “We won’t forget you when we raise the Cup!”
How, exactly, has GM Ray Shero accomplished all of this?
My guess: he’s good at what he does. Smart. An accurate judge of talent. Able to identify his team’s strengths and weaknesses. Determined to build the Penguins into a team that will win not one, but multiple Stanley Cup Championships. And possibly Satan himself, able to smooth talk other GMs into selling their souls for fool’s gold.
I hate him. And wish the Sabres had a GM just like him.
Despite Terry Pegula’s open-wallet approach to building the Buffalo Sabres franchise into a bona fide Stanley Cup-contender, what do the Sabres have that could conceivably be seen as an advantage over other teams that are currently in the hunt for the playoffs? Starting goaltending, maybe – and that’s about it. The Sabres have some good players who would be great secondary scorers on a lot of NHL teams, and I could see Thomas Vanek being the leading scorer on a good number of teams, but there is no combination of players on this roster who could form a line to rival the best lines of teams such as the Pittsburgh Penguins. Hell, the Penguins’ SECOND line is superior to the Sabres’ first, meaning the best line of the Buffalo Sabres would be relegated to third line status on the Penguins. If that doesn’t show you how far this team needs to go before it can consider itself ready to make a run for the Cup, then nothing will.
It appears as if the Sabres are getting close to shipping a lot of players out of Buffalo, with the hope that a slew of high draft picks will be what saves the franchise. Unless the Sabres can bring in a GM the likes of Ray Shero, however, no amount of draft picks is going to bring Lord Stanley’s Cup to Buffalo during my lifetime.