This article is a gem, outshining all the rocks in the Sabres blog-o-sphere.
The over-reaction of Sabres bloggers (and media) on a regular basis, blaming single players or single coaches, diluted the real problem that our beloved team has faced for a few seasons now. We’ve seen our organization’s reputation deteriorate as players came and went from the roster, just like the structure of the team on the ice. Who are the Buffalo Sabres? When a team walks onto our home ice, what do they think? Certainly not fear of the opposition and definitely not intimidation from the quiet fans.
When this season began, we looked at the roster through blinders – measuring each individual player’s personal success instead of what type of “chemistry” may form between particular teammates. We sat in our seats with renewed interest, waiting for Ehrhoff’s signature shot from the point or a large body check from Regehr. We entered the 82-game gauntlet looking for each player’s advertised strengths, and seemed to completely forget about what made them so strong in the first place.
Fans put the pressure on the individual, and not on the team as a whole, to succeed.
In years past, the world “chemistry” would be tossed around without thinking twice about it. We laughed it off as an excuse coming from the coaching staff: “we need to find chemistry.”
Now more than ever, the players need it, and it is clear that they aren’t mixing correctly. Like a cake with too much of one ingredient, the 2011-2012 Sabres didn’t come out of the oven as expected. Too much mix, and too little baking powder. When the finished product didn’t live up to expectations, the fans had the audacity to boo the players on the ice. The media and bloggers are guilty of it as well, tossing the blame around from player to player like a hot potato – instead of looking at the recipe and altering what is needed for a Stanley Cup celebration cake.
There is just as little focus in the media as there is in the Sabres locker room.
The general attitude from most of the “mainstay” writers and blogs in the Buffalo media is to “trade something!” It isn’t that simple. Our players will bring back the same value we’d trade for them: middle-of-the-road players and washed up veterans. To make a real impact, the team needs a new core – NOT one-off trades that do nothing to change the complexion of a single line. The team needs a new identity, not a new face.
Enter Darcy Regier. He once transformed a team in unfathomable fashion, shipping over-rated Chris Gratton and fan-favorite Rhett Warrener away for two players who would etch their way into Buffalo sports lore forever. Briere was a steal, essentially elevating a fourth-liner for the Coyotes into a first-line center (what we need now). As for Drury, I still remember sitting at Dunn Tire Park listening to the radio when the three-way trade took place to send the high-caliber forward (who had once won a Cup) to Buffalo.
The media expects that sort of change now, but Darcy Regier is a shrewd man. Both of the “turning-point” trades happened at times where value was highest: before the trade deadline and after free-agency’s first day. He knows teams will be looking for a center in Derek Roy… but why give him up now, when you can get an extra draft pick one month from now? Regier knows the fanbase isn’t happy with Stafford, but instead of dealing him away at the will of the fans, why not save him for when a team is desperate for a winger due to injury.
If the team is to make leaps and bounds into the playoffs over the next three years, the team’s identity needs to change.
It isn’t ALL Derek Roy’s supposed negative attitude in the locker room, or Miller’s supposed desire to play in California, or McCormick’s supposed lack of effort, or Stafford’s supposed desire to be in a band. These are excuses made up by the media FOR the team itself.
You can make “new year’s resolutions” based on media-cliches for each player if you want, as people will still mindlessly read it, even if it is meaningless in terms of hockey “analysis”. You can also speculate on how Regier is or isn’t doing his job. it still doesn’t equate good team synergy or how a hockey organization is run.
Terry said he wants to win the Cup in three years, and you can be sure there will be major changes if he doesn’t. However, this is the first season under Pegula’s reign as owner. I’m willing to give him one year to see what he has to work with…
Looking for site hits and referrals, the media isn’t so kind.
This article was originally a comment I posted on Sabre Noise, about an article called “Lines and Roles”.