The Buffalo Bills found quick solutions to their problems over the past few years, but now we need that same type of help with the Buffalo Sabres.
I don’t know about you, but there are only two names that come to mind when asked who my favorite Buffalo head coaches of all-time are — Marv Levy of the Buffalo Bills and Lindy Ruff of the Buffalo Sabres.
Levy coached a total of 182 games for the Buffalo Bills and won 112 of them — not to mention winning 11 of 19 playoff games with the team. Ruff, on the other hand, coached 1,165 regular season games and another 101 playoff games for the Buffalo Sabres.
For comparison, no other Buffalo Bills’ head coach has coached more than 57 games (Dick Jauron) and no other Buffalo Sabres’ head coach has coached more than 268 games (John Muckler).
Marv Levy left the Buffalo Bills in 1997 with a 112-70 record as head coach. Coincidentally, it was the same year Lindy Ruff was hired as head coach of the Buffalo Sabres.
When one legacy ended, another one began.
Ruff led the Sabres to the playoffs in his first four years as head coach, even bringing them to the Stanley Cup Finals in 1998-99 (his second year with the team). They followed that up by missing the playoffs for three straight years before the lockout happened.
The season following the lockout, the Sabres made the playoffs four of the next six years — their last appearance being the 2010-11 season. Unfortunately, the new era under the Pegulas didn’t bode too well for Ruff and he was ousted in 2013.
What I’ve noticed recently is that the Buffalo Sabres are starting to fall down the same path the Buffalo Bills fell in when they lost Marv Levy. Obviously the lack of winning was a problem, but it led to a string of inconsistencies with coaches and GMs, making it difficult for the Bills to do anything right.
The same bug has been biting the Buffalo Sabres for the past decade and they need to do something about it before we see another 10 years of frustration.
The only thing the Sabres have done in the past decade is rack up high draft picks that either never materialize or get wasted due to a lack of help — sorry Jack Eichel, I really wish there was something I could do to fix that.
They haven’t won, they haven’t had sustainability, and they haven’t had any fun.
I know Sabres’ fans are tired of hearing it, but the Buffalo Sabres have gone the past nine seasons without playoff hockey — the longest active playoff drought in the NHL.
They also haven’t won a playoff series in 13 seasons, despite reaching the playoffs twice in that span, and haven’t been to the Stanley Cup Finals in 20 seasons.
Buffalo Sabres fans haven’t seen consistent winning hockey since Ruff left the team and it’s the same thing the Buffalo Bills dealt with for nearly 20 years after Levy left. From 1998-2016, the Bills only had four winning seasons and two playoff appearances — both coming in the two years following Levy’s exit.
The Bills had 11 head coaches during that span. They also had six General Managers and enough starting quarterbacks to fill Noah’s Ark, twice.
Then Brandon Beane and Sean McDermott showed up — and everything changed.
They started to build a culture, they started to make winning moves in the draft, winning moves in free agency, and winning moves when it mattered most on the field.
They’ve made the playoffs two of the past three seasons and while they haven’t won a playoff game yet, they’re certainly on their way to doing that as they continue to improve.
Could Kevyn Adams and Ralph Krueger give the Buffalo Sabres what Brandon Beane and Sean McDermott have given the Buffalo Bills?
Consistency? Culture? Excitement? Talent? And most importantly, wins?
What I fear most is that the Buffalo Sabres will continue to dig themselves in a hole for another 10 years, much like we saw with the Buffalo Bills. They won’t focus on culture. They won’t focus on making smart moves for the future. And they won’t bring any sense of excitement to this franchise.
At the same time, I genuinely feel it’s something I shouldn’t fear because the Bills didn’t have a player like Jack Eichel or Rasmus Dahlin. They didn’t have as good of a cap situation as Adams has — not that it’s great, but the Bills were in a terrible position when Brandon Beane took over.
The Bills didn’t have as much working for them, but they managed to get it done and they got it done quick. I hope that’s what we see from Kevyn Adams, Ralph Krueger, and the rest of the Buffalo Sabres moving forward.
The Buffalo Sabres need a lot to happen in these next few months and they certainly have the opportunity to get it done. Right now, it’s a matter of execution and that’s been one of the biggest issues with this team.
Will there be more Buffalo magic in the air or will Sabres’ fans have to live in agony for another decade as the brass figure things out.
Only time will tell. I’ll keep a positive attitude, as I always have, and I hope the rest of this fanbase does as well. All I know is teams that stick together will get their time to shine. We may not know when that time is, but we will get it.
And if the Buffalo Bills have taught this city anything, it’s how sweet that moment is when it finally comes. While they still have a long way to go themselves, they’ve brought this city a lot of excitement and they’re destined for sustained success.
Personally, I don’t think the Sabres have any excuses. I think we have some solid talent at both levels and with some smart decisions this offseason — like we saw with the Buffalo Bills several years ago and continue to see today — the Sabres can flip things around rather quickly.
If Kevyn Adams can work some trades and sign some quality talent, and Ralph Krueger can develop them and build a winning culture, then Sabres’ fans will finally start to see some progress.
After all, that’s what I want to see the most this season… progress. If we can’t get that, then at least out Tre’Davious White in goal and see what he can do — just a suggestion.
We really hope you enjoyed this blog about our beloved Buffalo Sabres. We look forward to continuing the conversation with the best fans in the world down below in the comments section.