This evening the Buffalo Sabres host the Boston Bruins in what will be the fifteenth game of a forty-eight game season. With the season nearly a third complete, they find themselves tied for not the division, not the six seed, not the eight-seed, but for dead last in the Eastern Conference. I have watched the “L”s string along on the schedule I keep on the wall at work, next to schedules of other teams with their own impressive collections of losses. We’ve all grown accustomed to the Sabres being a fairly “streaky” team with no shortage of peaks and valleys throughout the seasons, of a team that will run out to commanding division lead only to go .500 the rest of the way and get bounced in the first round (09-10), or a team that will piss all over themselves like a bro after his first night out in Canada for four months and then become the hottest team in the league on the valiant run to eighth place (10-12). They are four points away from eighth at the moment, could conceivably find themselves there by the time I return to the office on Monday. But they won't, and that's why I'm here.
I don’t apologize often, for what I’d like to think are two reasons. The first is that in recent history, the words coming from my mouth that I regret the most have been apologies, apologies that were not warranted or deserved, even in abstract form. The second is related and offered with a grain of salt- I just believe I’m wrong less often than other people. Many fields demand that from those they employ, mine is no different.
So it is with gritted teeth but sincere repentance that I apologize for ever believing that this team, with these players, with this coach could ever put together a shortened season that could be described as anything other than a soul-sucking death march to the draft. We’ve spent many words here at the deeg eviscerating Ralph for not firing Jauron when it was called for, not firing Gailey when it was called for. I called him a “villain from a Dickens novel” and published it right after he had fired the coach I was ripping on him for not firing.
The eeriness of the similarities is becoming disconcerting and I wonder if Ted Black follows Buffalo’s other hapless franchise enough to see those similarities, or if he is too busy digging through his thesaurus for new ways to explain “Terry’s” dedication to winning a Stanley Cup. We all love a good orator; myself probably more than most, and we cannot deny- especially in light of the last occupant of the owner’s box- that money talks. Throwing godfather offers at Richards and Doan, upgrading the arena, putting up the Harbor Center if for no other reason than we don’t have to watch Carl Paladino erect some lifeless structure only a 1970’s East German architect could love, mean something. But “something” is as far as I’m willing to go anymore.
Ted Black has emerged as Russ Brandon 2.0, with a wardrobe upgrade and a new fan interaction feature. The talk remains about the brand, about how dedicated the owner is, how they communicate daily, how passionate he is to win and how distraught they are about the losses. Now I fully believe that Brandon is shoveling shit while Black is being at least more sincere, but the similarities of listening to these two men offer red herrings and parlor tricks to a disgruntled and desperate fan base is insulting. I’ll enjoy the Harbor Center as much as anyone, but Pegula can take the flaming tap water from “Gasland” and turn it into the fucking Bridal Veil Falls if it means there’s a parade down Delaware. I won’t fault this owner for not dealing with the Buffalo media given their current bullpen of hacks and has-beens, but that silence, pious as it may be, has a consequence to the fan base and that consequence is assumptions.