The Sabres Observer
by @DaveDavisHockey on 10/11/13 at 02:03 PM ET
One Particular Offseason Decision In Buffalo May Have Made Things Worse
Nowhere in the Hockey Fan Suffering Handbook does it say that losing has to be THIS miserable.
If you're a Buffalo fan of the younger variety, ask someone who can remember the Sabres of 1995-96. Despite having little talent and not a sniff of the playoffs, they were one of the most fun teams to watch in the history of the franchise.
What a difference between the play of that group and what we saw last night. If Terry Pegula wants to make some money, and his oil wells run dry, the introduction of No-Doze as a concession item just might do the trick.
Look, we in Buffalo did not have high expectations for this group. But, win or lose, this is still the entertainment business. And a cute little electric piano and some fancy projection screens aren't covering up the fact that this team, first period of the Ottawa game notwithstanding, doesn't despise losing enough and is pretty tough to watch.
The jam and drive that Marcus Foligno is showing on the ice should be the norm, but his stellar play is standing out so much because he's a rare exception.
Question number one right now, and possibly the big storyline of this season, is how Pegula will react if the well of fan tolerance and patience runs dry. The ball will be in his court when the collective emotion of Sabres fans evolves from being angry to just emotionally (and financially) packing it in.
The signs of this are already there, and much stronger than last season. Tickets in the secondary market have been going for as low as $10, which was unheard of in this town for years. The season ticket waiting list is shrinking, and it looks like sellouts are becoming fewer and further between.
Other than winning, which we've already been warned by management won't be happening much in Buffalo this season, what specific things could the Sabres have done to excite their fans and guarantee keeping them engaged?
I know of one easy answer, and he can be found standing behind the bench of the Colorado Avalanche.
Patrick Roy is 4-0-0, and his players look like they want to go through a wall for him. There's no salary cap on coaching salaries. What would have happened if Buffalo's billionaire owner offered triple what Colorado was going to pay him? Did he or Darcy Regier bother to ask?
Who knows, maybe they tried behind the scenes and were rejected. But there are enough good coaching minds out there who know what they're doing and can take the heat at the NHL level.
I'm not so sure the Sabres landed one of them.
Go ahead and pick out any scapegoat you like from last night's game, but this Buffalo team did not look prepared to play. Over the course of these first five games, defensive zone coverage has been horrible. It's no coincidence that the Sabres are allowing a league-worst 36.4 shots per game.
In some cases, it's what Tyler Myers referred to as being hesitant. In others, it's not displaying enough desperation to win battles along the boards and in front of the net.
Rolston is 0-4-1, and many of his players look like they don't want to go through a half-torn curtain for him. Apparently, indifference isn't a malady confined to the seating bowl.
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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.
Davis originally garnered media attention in 2002 as leader of a lobbying campaign working in unison with potential buyer Mark Hamister attempting to secure state financing to keep the Sabres in Buffalo. In 2004, Davis was briefly back on the airwaves - this time reaching the finals of the inaugural "WGR Rookie" sports talk competition. After a few years of "syndicating" his articles on various sites, along with doing some internet radio work, Davis now devotes his new media efforts to bringing quality Sabres related opinions and content to Kukla's Korner.
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter: [@DaveDavisHockey]