It’s been a while since I’ve done one of these. Bear with me as I catch up on all the NHL stuff I find interesting.
The Buffalo Sabres should just pack it in. It’s over. Going on a run now would take a miracle in itself, and with no new owner trying to buy the team and infuse the team with some energy, it’s highly unlikely that the Sabres go on the type of run they went on last year to grab one of the last available playoff spots.
Failing for Nail (Yakupov) shouldn’t be the idea, but the Sabres have shown that on top of lacking any sort of defense besides Tyler Myers (finally healthy), Robyn Regehr (injured), and Christian Ehrhoff (injured), they lack secondary scoring. Thomas Vanek and Jason Pominville have performed admirably as other players sit back and watch it all unfold. I’m not one to call out effort, but this team just seems disinterested and passionless.
But really, why did we expect anything to change? It’s been the same since the 2007-08 season. The same coach, the same general manager, the same core of players, and most importantly, the same heartless attitude. Asking this team to show up is like asking your dog not to eat table food. It’s falling upon deaf ears, and like Ryan Miller said last night, there’s nothing that’s going to change that this year.
Another thing that I’ve noticed is that this team lacks any sort of veteran, winning presence. Having guys like Jochen Hecht, Matt Ellis, Jordan Leopold, and Robyn Regehr is admirable, but none of those players seem to inject a feeling of winning into this team. Hecht is about the closest thing to a veteran, scoring forward, and that is probably just a product of playing with some pretty fantastic linemates.
The Boston Bruins had that veteran presence last year in Mark Recchi. Mark Recchi was always a character guy in which any team would love to have on their roster. The winner of three Stanley Cups with three different teams (two before he was in Boston, obviously), Recchi was always a highly sought after commodity for teams vying for championships, being traded to Carolina in 2006 to help the Hurricanes win their first Stanley Cup. After a year in Pittsburgh, Recchi was put on waivers only to be picked up by the Atlanta Thrashers, where he proved he still had something to play for. After signing with Tampa Bay for the 2008-09 season, Recchi was traded to the Boston Bruins, where he stayed for another two seasons until he finally rode off into the sunset with his third, and final, Stanley Cup.
It seems many winning teams have a veteran presence who knows how to win, or has won before. Chris Pronger is a guy that’s been to a championship round on every team he’s been on since he played with the Oilers. Ray Whitney was highly sought after, and was won over by Phoenix after a few good years and a Stanley Cup in Carolina. Daniel Alfredsson has proven to be a player who still has value in Ottawa to help them back to the playoffs. The Panthers signed a ton of vets over the summer (Ed Jovanovski, John Madden, amongst others.) Of course, the Red Wings find ways to stay young with a roster full of veterans.
While I’m all for keeping young guys so they can grow into these players some day, the veterans are what help the youngsters get there. Until Darcy Regier adds the right players to help these younger players, the Sabres will be the same average team that’s bounced out of the first round on a yearly basis.