Great Eights! Or, Why Buffalo Sabres Fans Need Not Fear The Draft.

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

“With the eighth pick in the 2013 NHL Draft, the Buffalo Sabres have selected . . . .”

Exactly two months from today, Buffalo Sabres fans will be eagerly awaiting Gary Bettman’s utterance announcing the Sabres’ first pick in the 2013 NHL Draft.  After last night’s draft lottery, I am sure many fans are disappointed that the Sabres did not defy the odds by stealing the number one pick.  Well, turn that frown upside down!  I’m here to tell you: there’s magic in that there number eight.

For starters, fans who just cannot wait until June 30th in order to find out who the Sabres will pick can always consult a Magic 8 Ball.   That’s right – it’s not a Magic One Ball; it’s a Magic 8 Ball.   Be careful what you ask for, though – you may not like the results.

If you know anything about Chinese and Japanese culture, you would be excited right about now: the number 8 is viewed as being a lucky number in both culture, though for different reasons.  Meanwhile, numerologists consider the number 8 to represent power, and Buddhists can give you numerous examples of how the number 8 plays a prominent role in Buddhism: the eight spokes of the Dharmacakra; the Eight Great Bodhisattvas; Buddha’s birthday (the 8th day of the 14th month); and so on.

The great Larry Bird, my favorite basketball player of all time, wore the number 33 . . . which, if you rotate one of the digits and then push them together, forms the number 8.

Famous athletes who actually wore (or are still wearing) the number 8 include Troy Aikman, Archie Manning, Cal Ripken, Jr., Danny Briere, Alex Ovechkin and Cam Neely.

Fans of video games will recognize that there are eight drivers in the Mario Kart video game series (not counting the Wii version, because who owns a Wii?).

The King himself, Elvis Presley, was born on January 8th.

And the drink is called V-8, not V-6, V-5, or any other ridiculous-sounding combination of V and a number.

So the number has weight, significance, importance – but I sense you’re still not convinced.  Let’s look at actual drafts from around the world of sports, then, in order to see how the 8th picks have fared.

In the NFL, current starting quarterbacks Ryan Tannehill (Miami) and Jake Locker (Tennessee) were both 8th picks, in 2012 and 2011, respectively.  Wide receiver Plaxico Burress, who won a Super Bowl with the New York Giants, was another 8th pick who has done quite well.  Unquestionably the most famous 8th NHL draft pick, however?  The legendary Ronnie Lott, winner of 4 Super Bowls and the man most people consider to be the best defensive back in the history of the NFL.

Famous 8th picks in Major League Baseball include Todd Helton and Jim Abbot, while Andre Miller, Rudy Gay, Jamal Crawford, Rex Chapman, and Tom Chambers were all picked 8th in their respective NBA drafts.

And let’s not forget the sport we’re actually focused on: the NHL, which has produced such memorable 8th picks as Niklas Sundstrom, Richard Matvichuk, Derian Hatcher, Jeremy Roenick, Shayne Corson, Grant Fuhr, and none other than Raymond Bourque himself.

So fear not, my fellow suffering fans of the blue and gold: having the 8th pick in this year’s draft is not as bad as some of you would have us believe.  There have been some truly great eights in the history of sports.  Besides – examine the numbers in 2013 closely enough, and you’ll see it is possible to produce an equation whose answer equals – you guessed it! – the number 8!  It’s a sign of good – no, great – things to come, or my name is not Zemgus Girgensons.

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