Buffalo: A sinking ship
People expected the 2013-14 Buffalo Sabres to be bad. They expected mediocre results and maybe a firing or two, but they didn’t expect this. The Sabres have become a three ring circus on the ice, in the locker room, and in the front office. Starting with John Scott’s preseason tiff with Phil Kessel and ranging from their eye-gougingly bad third jerseys to a wholesale clean-out in the front office, the Sabres have been a mess. The writing was on the wall last season, as Buffalo started moving pieces like Jason Pominville, and dangling goaltender Ryan Miller as trade bait. Miller is still on the table, and recent talks would lead one to believe he’ll have a new home by Christmas. So, is there any hope for a team that keeps doing things wrong?
Any team that names Steve Ott as captain must have a pretty shallow talent pool to choose from. To make the move even stranger, the Sabers named him co-captain in a strange bit of possible foreshadowing with the soon-to-be-traded Thomas Vanek. So why Ott as captain? Well, after Milan Lucic ran star goaltender Ryan Miller and literally killed him knocked his mask off in the 2011-12 season and there was almost no retaliation from Sabers players, the organization made a conscious decision to “get tougher.”
Usually, when a team with poor decision making skills decides they need to get tough, they go out and rent an aging goon who can barely skate straight out of an alcohol rehab center in an attempt to show that they have some spine. The Habs did it with George Parros this year, the Oilers have Steve MacIntyre for some unknown reason, and the Sabres singed career fighter John Scott, who probably doesn’t even know which hand he shoots the puck with. Scott started year by some goonery against the Leafs, and then delivered a cheap elbow to Boston’s Loui Eriksson which earned him a 7 game suspension.
It wasn’t surprising to anyone that after a pathetic start, and multiple displays of ineptitude, that Ron Rolston was relieved of coaching duties, being replaced by former Sabres coach and Jack Adams award winner Ted Nolan. GM Darcy Regier, longtime target of many Sabres fans ire, was sent packing and another Buffalo nostalgia gem, Pat LaFontaine, took over the role. Are the Sabres looking to try to pull off what Colorado did this season, bringing Roy and Sakic back to the organization so the fans would remember the glory years? Just a hunch, but it probably won’t turn out like the Avs’ stellar rebirth.
Before LaFontaine even put family pictures on his new desk, he was shopping players around. Vanek was already gone for quality player (and UFA this summer) Matt Moulson and a few picks. He’s already got Ryan Miller on the market, and is just waiting for the right deal to come through. It seems that this season has been written off, and that a lot more chips are going to fall before it’s all said and done. It’s clear Buffalo is rebuilding, and they want new blood in the organization, but are they gonna keep anybody? We’ll see as the new management cleans house and restocks. Hold out for 2014, Sabres fans, and keep an eye on that Conner McDavid kid in Erie, cause you might get a shot at him in the 2015 draft.