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.