It’s been another rough and painful season for Buffalo Sabres fans. Coming into the season there were high expectations for the Sabres which they have failed to live up to. As a result they find themselves in 11th place in the Eastern Conference with only a handful of games remaining.
When a team under-performs it’s easy for fans to become frustrated. To say Sabres’ fans are frustrated would be an understatement. Fans demanded a rebuild and they got their wish, so why are they expecting the Sabres to be an 8th place team?
Sabres fans are frustrated and they have every right to be, but there’s a difference between just being frustrated and what took place during last night’s game.
The Sabres downed the New Jersey Devils 3-2 in a nerve wracking shootout on Sunday evening. However, based on the fans’ reactions during the game you would have thought they were losing 13-0. Last night’s game hit a new low for any organization’s fan base; cheering when your team gets the puck out of their own end.
Yes it was embarrassing to see the Sabres hemmed in their own zone for over 2 minutes, but you have to remember who was on the ice for a large part of that shift. A rookie line of AHL players that really shouldn’t be together got trapped by one of the NHL’s best
Before we look at the Sabres team that is left, let’s take a step back and look at thing’s right before the trade deadline. What were Sabres fans calling for Darcy Regier to do? Sell the team, clean house and start the rebuild. Some fans even stated they wanted younger players who would be proud to wear the blue and gold.
Regier listened and shipped out two of the veteran defencemen in Robyn Regehr and Jordan Leopold, getting nothing but draft picks for the future in return. Regier also traded away captain Jason Pominville for young player’s that will help the team in the future. He did exactly what you asked him to do, he started cleaning house for the future.
The product that was booed and received bronx cheers when they cleared the puck last night, is likely the product Sabres’ fans are going to see for the next few seasons. The product they booed is exactly what they asked for- yet it’s still not good enough.
The Buffalo Sabres are now the youngest team in the NHL after the trade deadline and they’re not about to get any older. Next year’s top prospects: Mikhail Grigorenko, Zemgus Girgensons, Johan Larsson, Joel Armia and Brayden McNabb who will battle for roster spots are all under the age of 23;
Fans who pay money for tickets are entitled to express their opinions and boo if they don’t like what they’re seeing. But let’s remember who it is you’re booing. A team whose entire blue line, apart from Christian Ehroff, is under the age of 30, a team who’s first line center Cody Hodgson is only 23 and in only his 2nd full year in the NHL. Rookies such as Adam, Flynn, Porter, Adam Pardy and Mark Pysyk who are doing everything they can considering they’re way over their head’s.
This isn’t the same Buffalo Sabres core you wanted shipped out of town or have been complaining about for the last 6 season’s. It’s a new young team led by Steve Ott. One that is never going to quit, no matter how far out they are. At this point the Sabres have essentially become the Amerks, as a result they don’t currently possess the skills needed to succeed in the NHL.
The Sabres have skilled prospects that are going to play key roles in the future. Those players like Cody Hodgson, Tyler Ennis, Marcus Foligno and Tyler Myers still need leadership and time to evolve their game. Aside from Ryan Miller, Drew Stafford, and Thomas Vanek, this is a brand new Sabres team.
Before the trade deadline fans were fed up with their underachieving veterans. They got their wish and now have a team of young players who are giving it their all every game. The effort the rookies are putting forward is hard to fault. They’re finding ways to win, while they
may not be pretty games they’re grinding out hard-fought victories.
Despite the games being ugly, the bottom line is the Sabres are winning when logic suggests they shouldn’t be. Why would you boo a team full of rookies that still belong in the AHL, that are finding ways to win hockey games?
When fans demanded a rebuild what did they expect? A brand new team that would climb up the standings and battle for a playoff spot? Unless you fully believed that the Sabres would battle for a playoff spot after trading two veteran defencemen and their captain, why are you booing?
Give the rookies a chance to get their feet wet and gain some valuable NHL experience. Next year’s team is going to be even younger and filled with more inexperienced rookies. With Miller, Stafford and possibly Vanek gone, it may be a very long season. You have to let the kids play and learn so that when the time is right and they’ve matured the Sabres will be ready to compete with the best in the NHL.