Buffalo Sabres Opinions: Bucky Gleason Out Of Touch


I very rarely challenge another writer directly on their work, especially when it comes to the Buffalo Sabres.  I might offer up my opinion on the same topic, give my take on it and explain why it differs.  That is as far as I would go though.  Especially when it is something written by main stream or national media.

I don’t do it for several reasons, none of which I will get into here, because that isn’t the point.  What I will say though, the time has come to make an exception.

Our only major print news source in the greater Buffalo, the Buffalo News, published a piece by columnist Bucky Gleason, where he argues that the Buffalo Sabres have sunk to a new low, and that One player won’t solve Sabres woes.

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His title is about the only thing intelligent written in the entire column.  And that might not be a jab at him – he went to college and chose writing at his profession.  Maybe the years of not having a winning team in any of the professional sports (major professional sports) has tainted his ability to see any good in what these teams do.  Let’s take a look at a few of his statements in his article, and see just how far off out of touch with the Buffalo Sabres Bucky Gleason might be.

"By the looks of things, the Sabres sank to a new low Monday."

Anyone can do this – the main stream media does it all the time in every aspects of journalism.  Let’s take one quote, a sample of what was said and drag it out of proportion.  In the preceding paragraphs, Mr. Gleason explained that Tim Murray had to trade the likes of the players that were traded on deadline day.

They either were not a part of the plan going forward, or they were on some sort of expiring contract that Tim Murray wanted to get something for.  They were also looked at by other teams as good enough players to help their playoff chances.

We all knew that March 2nd, 2015 was going to come, and that this roster was going to be taken apart even further.  I am sure if Tim Murray had a deal, more players would have been moved to get something for them before their contracts ended.  The only reason Andrej Meszaros, and Andre Benoit are still on this roster, is because there wasn’t a deal to be made.

Everyone coming into Monday’s trade deadline knew what was in store for the team – so why did it come as a surprise to Bucky Gleason that the team looks worse now than it did on Sunday?

"If the NHL wanted to stop tanking, and it should, it would give the first pick overall (or the best odds of winning the lottery) to the team finishing 17th in the league and continue down the line. Problem solved."

How exactly does this solve anything?  How do bad teams get better?  They get good players.  The draft has been cut down in size over the years, and in the eyes of many, is probably still too long.  You could cut the draft down again and create a larger undrafted free agent market.

By not allowing the worst teams the best chance at the best players in the draft, you will create a system that will keep teams from ever getting good again.

The NHL has already addressed the tanking issue.  Starting next year the draft lottery won’t just be for the first pick overall, but for the first three picks overall.  The last place team under that system could very well end up picking fourth overall.  In some draft classes, fourth is still good, in others, it is only so-so.

Hockey is a team sport, and there is no one player that will instantly transform the Buffalo Sabres from one of the worst teams in the history of the NHL to a Stanley Cup contender, that much I will agree with Bucky on.

He also points out that the Washington Capitals got Alex Ovechkin and have never won a Stanley Cup.  But they have been in the playoffs every year except three with him on the roster (his first two seasons and last season).

He also points out that the Pittsburgh Penguins had several good players on their roster before getting Sidney Crosby.

"People see them and think Sidney Crosby while forgetting that the Penguins had Evgeni Malkin, Jordan Staal, Marc-André Fleury, Kris Letang, Brooks Orpik and other key players on their roster."

No one is forgetting that fact, nor that the Pittsburgh Penguins have only won one Stanley Cup in that time since getting Crosby.  How about the fact that they have been in the playoffs every year except one since Crosby joined the league?  Winning attracts free agents.

Buffalo Sabres Have Other Pieces In Place

What Bucky fails to mention is the fact that the Buffalo Sabres have Sam Reinhart, Rasmus Ristolainen, Zemgus Girgensons, Nikita Zadorov, Tyler Ennis, Evander Kane, Zach Bogosian and a slew of other prospects that are going to be good players in the NHL.

Tim Murray has shown by trading away Grade A prospects and non-expiring contracts that he will make a hockey move to make this team better.  Landing one player will not solve the Buffalo Sabres woes, but getting that generational player will pull things together and make this team competitive for several years.

The fan base, for the most part has bought in on the plan.  Players that will be here long term have bought into the plan and understand.  People are tired of reading stories about the Buffalo Sabres tanking and suffering.  There is too much to look forward to at this point.  Call it more Darcy Regier bashing, but Tim Murray hit the fast forward button on the rebuild process, something Darcy was unable or unwilling to do.

Bucky Gleason’s article is out of touch with what has been happening all year, and is like writing a scathing article about going to the Buffalo Zoo to see the new polar exhibit before it is open, knowing that construction is not complete, and expecting to see the new habitat up and running.

It has been a long hard road for the Buffalo Sabres.  The final 18 games of the season are not going to be easy to watch.  But as Mr. Gleason quotes Tim Murray, the end of the tunnel is near, and next season should be better.

"“I believe, as bad as it looks, that we’re on our way to assembling a talented base that can be competitive for a long time,” Murray said. “That’s all I’m trying to do.”"

One player might not make a difference on an NHL roster, but landing a generational player for the Buffalo Sabres in this years draft isn’t a one player solution, it is the icing on the cake for Tim Murray, whose plan is a year and a half in the making.

Maybe it isn’t entirely Bucky Gleason’s fault.  He has had the luxury of covering bad teams for several years now, so maybe it is become a part of his writing acumen that he do nothing but rip the team and fail to see the good in what could come from rebuilding this team from the ground floor up.

Maybe it is time for the Buffalo News to get some competition in the area so the standard of journalism will rise up because they won’t be the only source in town.

Either way, both should feel bad about allowing that story to publish.

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