Buffalo Sabres need to face growing pains, stay the course in 2024

While the Buffalo Sabres lost 5-1 yesterday to the Ottawa Senators, they also earned a big win when they waived goaltender Eric Comrie.
Dec 31 2023; Ottawa, Ontario, CAN; Buffalo Sabres goalie Devon Levi (27) suits up prior to the start
Dec 31 2023; Ottawa, Ontario, CAN; Buffalo Sabres goalie Devon Levi (27) suits up prior to the start / Marc DesRosiers-USA TODAY Sports

You knew it was coming, given Eric Comrie’s ultra-pedestrian performances in 2023, and it was a carry-over from the 2022-23 season. Predictably, Comrie was the next player Buffalo Sabres general manager Kevyn Adams waived, and it was likely an easy decision, as the 28-year-old became the odd man out in the goaltender rotation.

A few days back, Adams also waived Tyson Jost, a decent role player who also found himself as an odd man out once the Blue and Gold started getting healthy. While neither Comrie nor Jost are players fit for long-term success, they are seasoned veterans who can help teams win when put into the right role, such as a pure backup goaltender or a part-time fourth-liner. 

Their latest roster move will also give the Sabres an opportunity to continually develop their young goaltending tandem that we believed would be the duo last summer in Devon Levi and Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen, who are 22 and 24, respectively. However, rolling with such a young and inconsistent tandem at goaltender with a team that is the youngest in hockey and facing a plethora of issues probably won’t sit well with a contingent of fans. 

We’ve been hearing the urges for Kevyn Adams to “Do something,” plus the, “Fire Granato” chants at games, and that provides enough evidence that there is anger in the Sabrehood. But Adams has done something both in 2023-24 and even since he took the job: He’s built a young core and found the right coach to develop that core. Even if the wins aren’t coming this season, it’s important to remind everyone that when Adams took over, he was starting a process that would only come into fruition in time. 

Buffalo Sabres must stay the course with the league’s youngest team

Sure, improvement and the playoffs would have been nice in 2023-24, and while the book hasn’t been closed on a mid-to-late season run that would end in a postseason berth, it’s also worth noting that massive rebuilds in any sport don’t often take just a few seasons. There are outliers, like the Detroit Lions, but the Philadelphia 76ers spent four full seasons building under head coach Brett Brown before he ultimately led them to the playoffs. 

The Pittsburgh Steelers hired Chuck Noll in 1969, yet they didn’t even post a 0.500 record until Year 4 of his legendary coaching career. If you want Adams to do anything, it should involve staying the course, and helping this team get through its growing pains in 2024 and for once, maintaining franchise stability with the same coach. 

Yeah, it might be frustrating to watch, but the dreaded “step back” is sometimes needed to catapult a team. No guarantees it will happen with the Buffalo Sabres, but after what could be 13 years of no playoffs with massive franchise instability for most of that span, we know what entails a one-way ticket to 82-game seasons - constant firing of the staff and front office, and vetting of the roster.