The Sabres Observer
One of my guilty television addictions is "Shark Tank" ("Dragons' Den" in Canada), a show where successful and insanely wealthy investors hear pitches from ambitious entrepreneurs seeking funding to take their companies to another level.
In many cases, the business owners are told they have a bright future ahead but aren't big enough -- not enough sales -- to get an investment just yet.
That's metaphorically what happened when Mike Babcock spurned the Sabres yesterday.
Many in Buffalo, from fans and media to apparently even some in the Sabres organization, are flabbergasted at The Coveted One choosing a Toronto franchise in turmoil. The methods and negotiating tactics of the former Detroit coach have certainly come under fire as well.
Babcock departing the Red Wings has instantly reignited a Sabres - Leafs rivalry that hasn't been the same since the Rob Ray vs. Tie Domi days. Yesterday, fans and writers from both cities were sparring on social media over which team will sooner be a contender.
And while this writer predicts Buffalo in a landslide, this is a time for Sabres fans to humbly and patiently accept a sobering reality.
Toronto is Toronto, and Buffalo is Buffalo. You know where this is going.
"This fall, I'm going to take my coaching talents to..."
Seriously, this is on the verge of turning into a spectacle that would even make LeBron cringe.
This weekend, I watched the entire sit down chat Darren Dreger conducted with Mike Babcock and Ken Holland.
Sadly, I'll never get back those 24 minutes of my life again.
Nothing against Dreger, who is a true A-lister in the business and one of only two or three who could have landed such an interview. But there really wasn't much said.
In case you missed it, the news-breaking revelations were that Holland and Babcock have a great working relationship, Detroit will have a good coach behind the bench next season regardless of The Decision 2015, and Mike Babcock will do what's best for Mike Babcock (the last one is the words of the coach himself, who has a curious propensity for referring to himself in the third person).
The Sabres have released season ticket pricing information, and not surprisingly are implementing an increase.
Prices for 2015-16 are 3.7% to 6.0% higher, depending on seating location.
From Scott Cullen of TSN.ca,
As much as the Sabres were steamrolled last season, with the worst possession of the analytics era, they have been accumulating young talent and are in position to begin the long climb out of the basement.
The first step will be to find a new head coach and, as bad as the Sabres are currently, it's not a bad gig. The team has an owner with deep pockets who will be willing to spend when it's needed (having already gone the route of spending too much, too soon) and there is enough talent and draft picks in the cupboard that they should continue to get better. Additionally, because they are a young, rebuilding club, there should be some patience that allows the coach to set his system without facing the pressure of contending for a playoff spot right away.
From Mike Schopp of WGR-550 in Buffalo,
Despite the incessant ink-stained protestations that have hassled them for months, the Sabres greet this day in prime position for a rise to power. It wasn't easy, and it wasn't popular, but they did exactly what they should have done: take it down to better build it up.
They've had their fleet of futures standing by, and now they can name their headliner: Jack Eichel, the Boston University superstar they were tracking toward all along.
Like many, I dreamed of Connor McDavid, a junior with such a lofty skill set that he almost doesn't make sense. But that's fine, I've never been the cool kid anyway. McDavid is off to Edmonton, where to us and maybe most hockey fans he'll be a ghost.
Eichel reads nothing like a consolation prize, with comparisons to some of the greatest in the game and raves about his demeanor, work ethic and upbringing.
I'll take it.
Scott McLaughlin of WEEI in Boston is reporting that Boston University forward Evan Rodrigues will sign a free agent contract with the Buffalo Sabres, according to sources.
Ted Nolan has coached 471 games in the NHL. But not one single time has he ever stood behind the bench of a Stanley Cup contender.
How would Nolan do with a supremely talented team?
Chances are we'll never know, because his NHL coaching career is likely over.
When was it clear that his latest gig in Buffalo wouldn't last? For me, it was at prospect camp last summer, when I couldn't help but notice that Tim Murray and Nolan were watching the action from the same section in the 200 level, yet they were seated five rows apart.
Buffalo's 4-2 loss to Columbus last night, which assured them the rights to one of the McEichel brothers, officially ends possibly the most tumultuous and surreal period in Sabres history.
And now, after all the suffering of the past two agonizing years, fans and media who engaged in heated debates over the process the Sabres took to get him will come together in the coming months to give the new face of the franchise the most raucous and celebrated welcome an athlete has received in this city since Jim Kelly's black stretch limo arrival in 1986.
I walked into the locker room last night and made a hard stop when I got within ten feet of Mike Weber, who was doing his postgame media scrum.
I wasn't getting any closer.
It was nothing more than a natural reaction. The Sabres defenseman was fuming, angry and bitter at Buffalo's home crowd for cheering for the Coyotes.
While I subconsciously knew it wouldn't happen, Weber looked upset enough to randomly take a swing at someone, and I didn't want to be the guy making the headlines.
Arizona won 4-3 in overtime, and the gap between the guarantee of a McEichel brother and 29th place, to the delight of most Sabres fans, now stands at six points.
Yesterday, I asked a question on Twitter to gauge where Sabres fans are at emotionally as they watch their team play out the stretch with a possibility of lining up a guarantee to get either Connor McDavid or Jack Eichel in the draft.
If you want to know just how big this has become for a lot of fans in Buffalo, the responses will give you an idea. Some of them even surprised me.
About The Sabres Observer
Dave Davis has covered the Buffalo Sabres for various NHL accredited websites and newspapers since 2003. He was the senior writer and Sabres correspondent for The Fourth Period, covered hockey for Western New York Sports and Leisure Magazine, and has had articles featured on NHL.com, FOX Sports, Yahoo Sports and in New York Sportscene. Sabres news and notes can be found on his Twitter page.
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter: [@DaveDavisHockey]