Mandatory Credit: James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports

Buffalo Sabres Lack Leadership


The Buffalo Sabres may have announced their co-captains who they expect to lead the Sabres through this season but one thing was clear last night in Detroit, the Sabres did not have a leader, especially early on. Last night through that painful Sabres game the Sabres looked like a ship lost in the waters with no captain to calm everything down, hopefully that’s just some first game jitters and Steve Ott and Thomas Vanek step up to the C on their chests or it’s going to be a really, really long season in Buffalo.

Look I love Steve Ott as much as the next person, what he brings to the Sabres is fantastic, but he’s just not captain material or at least not

the type of captain the Sabres need. He’s not the type of player who will go end to end weaving his way through opponents, he’s not the type of player who can make offence out of nothing or create room and he’s not going to take the team on his back offencively. He’s the type of player who is going to hit the crap out of opponents and play an edgy game hoping to spark his teammates and last night it was evident the Sabres didn’t need that type of leader. What the Sabres needed was a leader on offence who could calm down the young rookies and lead by example and the really sad thing is the Sabres don’t have anyone on their roster who can do that.

The first period you can chalk up to it being the first game, lots rookie jitters and mistakes which were to be expected. Where the lack of leadership was most noticed was on the powerplay. The Sabres powerplay didn’t seem to have any power last night going 0-7 with the man advantage including two separate 5-on-3′s. They had no one to quarterback the powerplay and quite frankly the powerplay units had no clue what they were trying to do. Passes were off, far too many shots were blocked and when you can’t enter the zone on a 5-on-3 there’s an issue. The Sabres are in desperate need of someone who can quarterback a powerplay that is on its way to being 29th in the league for the 2nd straight season. Someone who has the calm and poise and hockey IQ to gain the zone and allow the Sabres to set up, and can decide on what their next attack strategy will be. Last night the powerplay ran around like a chicken with his head cut off and as a result went 0-7.

If Darcy Regier wants to lead a successful rebuild it’s time for him to get rid of the veterans who won’t step up and lead. Stafford and Vanek should be capable of leading the Sabres offencively but neither one has stepped up to the plate. Bring in veterans with skill and leadership abilities, ones that are going to play their hearts out and want to be in Buffalo, that’s the only way they will right the ship. A ship without its leader- I won’t say captain because the Sabres have two of those- is one that will be destroyed at sea.

I understand this team is young and that this was only the first game of the year but that’s no excuse for not having a leadership team that can actually lead in place. Ott has been in the NHL long enough and should know that the Sabres needed someone to step up last night and that someone was supposed to be him. On Friday, Vanek will be given an opportunity to show what he can do while wearing the C and hopefully he can lead by example and rally the boys in blue and gold.

The Sabres will need to iron out the kinks in the next week and one of Vanek or Ott needs to step up and you know actually lead the Sabres. But perhaps the more scary thing about the Sabres lack of leadership, is the fact it starts right at the top of the organization.

Tags: Buffalo Sabres Featured Lack Leadership NHL Popular Steve Ott Thomas Vanek

  • Timothy Redinger

    Every time the camera would pan the bench, I would see Ott sitting on the end of the bench staring at the ice..he wasn’t motivating the kids or getting any chatter going on the bench….lackluster performance for his first shot at the C.

    • Caitlin Campbell

      For me he was invisiable all night long- didn’t see any emotion from him at all. I get that it was the first game but he needs to be better plain and simple

      • Kevin

        Let me ask you both. What were you expecting Ott to do? Jump up and down screaming like Patrick Roy? it’s his first time as a captain with a team playing their first game of the season at the JOE. Tall order and need I say intimating as well to most of them. Not only that, but I am willing to bet they’re still learning RR system to boot. Lighten up on him, only one game.

        • Caitlin Campbell

          I guess I was just expecting more of an impact from him

        • Jes

          Exactly Kevin I dunno what they expect out of Ott. It’s not like he is a Crosby type captain he is more of a captain in the Gionta sense. Good leader on and off the ice. If there is something to be said he will say it. And he will occasionally jump into the offensive side of things as well.

  • http://SabreNoise.com/ Richard Spalding

    I don’t know, CC – you can’t blame leadership for their terrible power play (they went 0-7, by the way, and stunk last year, too) – that’s on the coaching staff. We ought to let them play more than a game or two before we start lamenting leadership qualities. You may be proven right, but one game is not a fair sample size, IMO.

    • Caitlin Campbell

      I agree we have to see more of a smaple size, but I haven’t sensed any real leadership around this team since Pominville was shipped out- heck even before then.

      • Jes

        I think Ott surpassed Pominville in being a better leader last season. Pominville wasn’t a good captain IMO. Ott will do a much better job than him.

    • Kevin

      I wonder if the problem is in the teacher and not the players. or both! The reason I say that is because there not as many expert teachers coaching special teams out there. They mostly fly by the seat of their pants and their experience as a player, therefore they are good at teaching one or the other, and mostly it ends up being the PK. It’s only the first game, way too early to tell IF it will be improved over last year or not. I usually give everything about 10 games depending who they have played.

      • Caitlin Campbell

        I think there is definitely a problem right from the top down.

  • Jes

    Caitlin I don’t think there was any leadership lacking. Just pretty bad play by everyone. There’s only a handful of captains that can actually turn a whole game around. Your being way to critical on one guy when it’s the whole team that stunk. Our PP stunk last year as well, and that wasn’t Pominville’s fault. It all comes down to the special teams coach.

    Ott was a phenomenal leader last year. Only guy on the team who defended his teammates on and off the ice.

    In conclusion leadership is fine. PP Sucks and team on an overall scale isn’t that great either.

    • Caitlin Campbell

      The team definitely didn’t play up to par last night but Ott has to act like more of a leader. He was silent most of the night- a team like the Sabres needs a captain than can turn around a game and spark offence and IMO Ott isn’t that guy

      • Jes

        Its been one game and that’s not enough to judge his leadership skills. Just because you do not see him leading doesn’t mean he isn’t. It’s not like you are one of the players on the ice. From what I saw he did great.

        Ott can easily spark an offense. So can McCormick. All it takes to spark an offense is a goal. Anyone can get a goal. Ott is a 50 points a year guy so there’s 50 goals there that he will be part of and that’s not counting the defensive plays an how under the skin of opposing teams he can get.

        He’s exactly the guy to be a co-captain of this team and maybe next year take on that full time role.

        • Caitlin Campbell

          Maybe I was just expecting more from him… I just hope he can pick up his game

  • lamarred1118

    Any successful captain needs a crew that is willing and able to perform the task he is assigned to the best of his ability. When the GM does not have the wherewithal to address the teams glaring deficiencies(face offs, lack of strength in the middle, inability to win battles on the boards) by adding a free agent, moving some dead weight in a trade or using a buyout then this is what is to be expected after the first game. Regier was like a horse with blinders this offseason relying totally on the draft. Or is it just that certain elements simply won’t deal with him? Using the same military reference, a captain also needs to be confident that the admiral(Rolston) is a capable, knowledgeable guy that will have his back and that the fleet commander(Darcy) is just as loyal to everyone of the lowest swabbies on the ship when the bullets are flying.
    You can send a ship to sea but without the proper tools it will flounder at the first sign of adversity.
    The highlights of last night was the composure of the Sabres, the positional play against a superior offensive team and even though it was limited to three chances the Wings didn’t score on the PP. Glass half full.
    What is your opinion on the confidence level that the Sabres veterans have in the admiral and his boss?

    • Caitlin Campbell

      I fully agree that the lack of leadership stems right from the top of the organization from Regier right down, these team doesn’t have “it”. The Sabres need to acquire more “leader types” in order to right this ship.
      I think the majority of veterans know this ship isn’t going anyewhere and want out before it hits rock bottom, so they’re keeping quite until they get their wish and head out of town.

  • davidmuscalo

    I don’t think that leadership was the problem last night. In fact, I was impressed that the Sabres did not get beaten by a much higher score. They did not panic even though they were often caught out of position. Just as last season, they had trouble getting the puck out of their end. If Miller had played like he has in the past, he could have stolen the game. The Sabres looked unorganized and the their play was often irregular, but Detroit barely won the game. The Sabres must have done something right.

    We also learned something about some of the senior players on the team. Those he believed Myers would turn his game around must be disappointed; he still can’t stick handle, quarterback the power play or get the puck out of the Sabres end of the ice. Leino has managed to get himself injured again. Vanek couldn’t find the back of the net. Stafford was invisible. On the positive side Weber delivered a number of boned crushing checks.

    I expect them to lose the next two games against Ottawa and Pittsburgh, but if they hang in there the way the did against Detroit, they will be competitive and have nothing to be ashamed of. The team has guts; Regier has seen to it that they lack talent. Especially, on the senior end of the age spectrum.

    Remember, this team has far too many young players and a coach who has little NHL experience. The speed that the young players showed last night kept Detroit on their heels trying to catch them. That talent will mature over time.

    It is unfair to expect a winning team this season, the talent is there at the young end of the spectrum, but it is not there at the older end of the spectrum.

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