Hey! Buffalo Sabres!
Surely, you cannot be pleased with last night’s preseason game against the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Forget the fact that you lost the game 5-3; obviously, winning that game was the last thing on your minds. (You guys DO remember that you’re a hockey team, not a professional wrestling troupe, right?)
Forget about the fact that you have young men who are fighting to obtain a roster spot on your team, and that you just put a big crosshair on their back. (I know – you think you’re sending the message that the Sabres protect their own, that you won’t be messed with. How quaint!)
Forget about everything, except this: last night, you became the sort of team that we Sabres fans have been complaining about all these years.
Congratulations – you’re the new bullies on the block.
Don’t delude yourselves; don’t try to argue, “No, no – you’ve got it all wrong.” Right out of the gate this preseason, you allowed Patrick Kaleta to spend a preseason game doing his best bowling ball impersonation, crashing into some of the young Montreal Canadiens prospects. Of course, when your prospects get hit hard, you rush to protect them – but clearly, it’s okay to target the OTHER team’s prospects, right?
You laid low and kept it clean for a few games, providing fans with some actual hockey to watch and enjoy – go figure – but then the Toronto Maple Leafs came to town on Saturday, and bad blood and old rivalries flared up. That’s okay – hockey is a full-contact sport, and tempers are going to flare. It wasn’t always pretty, but the shenanigans that broke out in that game did not detract from what was an exciting game of hockey that felt like more than “just a preseason game.”
And then . . . .
Look: if Corey Tropp wants to pick a fight with a member of the Leafs to avenge the hit on Marcus Foligno, that’s his prerogative. And if he just so happens to pick a fight with 6’5″ Jamie Devane, more power to him! I don’t want to see Tropp get hurt like he did – no one does – but it’s not like he was hit with a cheap shot and left in a pool of blood. He instigated a fight and the result wasn’t in his favor. That’s where it should have ended, but clearly it didn’t, and now here we are.
Is this the direction the franchise is headed with Ron Rolston at the helm? Player picks a fight and loses, so now the Sabres send big John Scott out on the ice and to harass a scorer like Phil Kessel? Are you kidding me? And don’t try and use Kessel’s idiocy to justify Scott’s bullying tactics. I’m not defending what Kessel did with his stick – the NHL will suspend him, and he will deserve every game he sits – but Scott has no reason to be going after Kessel. What kind of punk move is that? The game could have settled down and moved on; instead, you ratcheted up the tension and created a situation that spiraled way, way out of control. What – it wasn’t enough that Tropp got injured? You wanted to put more Sabres players at risk?
Ever since Milan Lucic steamrolled Ryan Miller, you’ve been a team with a inferiority complex. Seems like you’re more worried about being “tough” than you are with “winning games.” Wrong move, guys. I want you to play hard, be mentally tough, and defend your teammates as much as the next guy – but last night, you went too far. Worse yet, you’ve gone and put a huge target on your chest, not just for the next time you play the Leafs, but for any other team that would prefer to sucker you into a brawl-fest than an actual hockey game.
Turn the page. This isn’t who you are. You have chance to develop some really promising, young talent. You could be known for winning again. Isn’t that enough?
Agree? Disagree? Both? Neither? Leave comments below, or @theamazingMrS! Keep it civil – we ain’t throwing no brawls around here!