Tonight the Buffalo Sabres take to the ice in the land of meth labs and man-eating sinkholes to attempt to do something they haven’t done once during this mercifully shortened season: win their fourth hockeypucks game in a row. If Winnipeg and Philadelphia win their games in regulation, the Sabres will suddenly find themselves one point removed from the final playoff spot with a game in front of 13,000 empty seats on deck Thursday night in the Everglades. Ten of their final fourteen games will be played at home and, despite all of this, some of you are despondent, downtrodden, terrified that they might win, that they might turn that puncher’s chance into a playoff berth.
Why is this case? Well the prevailing logic seems to be that the team is better served by finishing with a top three draft pick, buttressed by the sweeping assumption that if the Sabres sneak into the playoffs, Darcy Regier will be rewarded with keeping his job and this team will be thrown into some sort of perpetual mediocrity as true as our orbit around the sun. I can’t say I don’t understand this logic; the idea of giving this general manager a second crack under Pegula at assembling a roster would accomplish little more than hemorrhaging the fanbase and leaving us a few more years closer to death without a sniff at a cup. What I don’t understand is how people are willing to assume that this is black and white, that wins equal the general manager staying. Because drive-time radio pronounces it true? Because a WGR beat reporter who spent the entire football season telling you Chan Gailey wasn’t going anywhere is now saying the same about Darcy? Because TBN staff members that haven’t broken a team story since the Ford administration pronounce it true? For shame.
I don’t know what the owner thinks about the general manager’s future. Neither do you and neither do any of the local media. What I do know is management espoused a three-year plan to win a Stanley Cup (that has been shot to shit) and pledged to win multiple Stanley Cups under the new owner. I know the owner allowed or ordered the firing of a coach that had been involved with the team for the better part of three decades. I know that perennial eighth place finishes and first round exits are quite removed from the sixteen wins that it takes to win a championship. I know that no one who builds a business worth more than a billion dollars does so by accepting continuous underachievement and incompetence.
I also know that telling the fans that they’re being neglected, ignored and mistreated sells papers and ad space, and allows fans to wallow in the “woe is us” attitude that gets ingrained into your DNA at conception in this region. I know it’s the safe column to write, the safe position to take. I know Pominville, Vanek and Miller have contracts that expire after next season and the general manager himself has already bucked tradition and stated to local and national outlets that any changes that will be made will be focused on next season.
My point is that there’s at least enough empirical evidence to argue that the general manager is gone no matter what happens short of a conference finals appearance, right? There’s more than enough evidence to support the idea that columnists and radio hosts are trolling the fanbase by using Darcy as a boogeyman to get you to tune in or use one of your ten free page views (I’m not silly enough to assume any of our readers are also TBN subscribers).
Making it harder to accept even a slight run of success is the fact that we had finally embraced, welcomed the idea of hitting rock bottom. After half a decade of mediocrity this was going to be the year we finally said “fuck it,” and took the losses laughing instead of crying. We were ready, and then these, these ASSHOLES had to go and start winning! God can’t they do anything right!?
Atlas knows the depth of all the sea, and bears the long columns which keep asunder...
The YachtsmanLast evening, the Sabres continued their march towards Pegula-Powered Playoff Destiny.
The Demon Swede performed admirably once again, stopping 23 pucks fired at him by one of the NHL's best offensive squads. The Sabres offense, led by TV Party Tommy Vanek, put three goals + an empty netter on old friend Dwayne "Rolie The Goalie" Roloson. Highlight of the night, of course, was a hatty by Atlas Vanek (pad tap to Ryan at The Goose's Roost's AM ode to TV
.....some of the best sabreweb musings I've read in a while). In keeping with my new tradition of matching songs with fantastic Sabre performances, I've decided to match up TV with Daft Punk's amazing Television Rules the Nation/Crescendolls from Alive 2007. I was in Europe for this show at Paris' Bercy and then in New York the following week when they played the McCarren Park Pool and I missed both shows. That still burns a puck-sized hole in my soul that will never close.
As Ryan at Goose's Roost points out, if you're not on the TV train by now, you never will be. Last night was another reinforcement of Regier's decision to sign Vanek to that "huge" contract. Vanek's play, demeanor, and hustle are clear indicators that he should be the official leader of this team. I've been racking my brain all morning to figure out why Ruff hasn't slapped a C on his chest and called it a day. Maybe some of you readers (okay, reader - singular) can help me out with this. Is there some sort of vote that would need to occur? Is there a lockerroom rift that would prevent Vanek from Captaincy that we can't see? If so, who would those players be?! If the Sabres go deep and God almighty do the unthinkable and unspeakable, who would Bettman pass that thing that I don't talk about around this time of year to first?*
'It's OK Lindy, trust me....he can handle it.'
SIDENOTES- Apparently, I'm an idiot, because this has been up for a while but I've missed it: the 7 for Rick Martin in the trapezoid? Amazing. Little things like that are making me (Grand Imperial Doubter of Doubting Thomases) really believe in this Pegula fellow.- A nagging doubt was planted in my head months ago when Vanek made the remark about Roy's puck hogging
. Now that nagging doubt has turned into a fantasy trade scenario in which we offload Roy, save the money to re-sign Stafford, and make it rain all over next season with cap space, picks, and a marquee FA. Am I taking the Douche Train to Idiotville on this one?- For some odd, strange reason....this team is looking very talented right now. Not only because of their respectable-to-great play as of late, but because of the awfultudinal play by the other top Eastern Conference squads - namely the Bruins & the Flyers. Friday night will be full of stark revelations for the hockey communities of Southern PA and Western New York.
However, The Caps & The Pens still scare me like "The Ring".- Also on Friday, Pegula has invited 75 Sabres' Alumni to the Arena for Fan Appreciation night. All the big names of course, but perusing through this list, their are some massively unintentionally hilarious names & some awe inspiring awesomenitude.....here are some highlights:
- Richard Smehlik - the man who inspired the Lexington Avenue Street Hockey League Favorite: "You just pulled a Smehlik"- Michal Grosek - the most frustratingly talented no goal scoring goal scorer of the 90s (and we had a quite a few)- Wayne Primeau - the Frank Stallone of the NHL!- Mike Wilson - YOU WERE SUPPOSED TO COVER HASEK'S RIGHT POST!!!! WHY DID JUNEAU GET IN SO GD CLOSE!?!?!?- Phil Housley - the best Sabre Defenseman ever. EVER.- Pat Lafontaine - God it's been too long Patty...- Jim Lorentz - oh, Jimmy, how we miss you so- Brad May - hardest punch of the 90s...arguably the greatest goal of the 90s too...- Gerry Meehan - we need more ex-Captains to come by and give TV a vote of confidenceIf one of you kind readers would do me a favor and record/send/upload the pre-game ceremony to me and/or youtube, it would be much much much appreciated. These are the moments when NYC makes me sad because I can't be on the golden shores of Lake Erie.* The Daughters Pegula, of course.