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The Sabres Observer

Babcock Courtship Was Just Bad Timing

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.

Talk all you want about the prospect pool, Jack Eichel, the "nowhere to go but up" buzz taking over Sabres Nation and everything else related.

54 points is what you are. That's what the hockey world sees on your business card. Until there is hard evidence that the Sabres are on the precipice of competing for a Stanley Cup, this team will have a difficult time attracting elite free agent coaches and players.

As far as why Babcock would choose Toronto, with a struggling team of its own, the answer is obvious. Have you ever been there?

Those of us who live here know Buffalo is a very underrated city and that there are so many great things happening. But ask yourself objectively how you think Babcock's wife reacted when her husband asked, "Toronto or Buffalo?".

The only bait to get a leg up on the Torontos and New Yorks of the world is the allure of winning. And while there is a bright future ahead for the Sabres, they aren't quite ready -- not enough wins -- to land the big fish from the Shark Tank just yet.

If this courtship were to happen, say two years from now, Babcock might have signed a contract in Buffalo five minutes after getting off the plane.

But now just isn't the right time. So go out and find a really good coach (how about this guy?) who is hungry to develop a young Sabres team into a contender.

If things work out as planned, the time will come when the Sabres will have no trouble landing top coaches and players. In the meantime, think of yesterday as confirmation that they took the right approach by building through the draft. In the grand scheme of things, what happened with Babcock is in no way a death knell for the rebuild.


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Filed in: | The Sabres Observer | Permalink
  Tags: babcock+toronto+buffalo


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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.

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Email: dd@kuklaskorner.com Twitter: [@DaveDavisHockey]