Until this point I’ve refrained from being very critical of the Buffalo Sabres for mainly two reasons. One is, what I now realize is a case of my head being buried in the sand while waiting for them to right the ship. The other frankly, is the realization there’s many more Sabres reporters and bloggers out there who do a better job of expressing their disdain with a fumbling organization headed nowhere fast.
So based on the above, I’ve kept my mouth shut and my fingers away from the keyboard when it comes to scathing remarks on the topic.
That ends this morning.
What I witnessed last night at the First Niagara Center Tuesday evening against the lowly Winnipeg Jets was utterly pathetic. Facing a bad hockey team playing on the road, the Sabres spent the first 39 of 60 minutes of a must-win game simply going through the motions. The fans certainly let them know about it, practically booing the team off the ice at several points of the game, even prompting Buffalo News reporter Mike Harrington to confront Lindy Ruff post-game with the growing fact that their fan base hates this team.
I’ve put together a few random thoughts of mine regarding the Buffalo Sabres. Feel free to agree, disagree or have no opinion at all:
♦ I’ve never once joined in the “it’s time for Lindy Ruff” to go parade, but as of this morning I’ve lined myself on the side of the street in support as that float passes by. I have and always will think Ruff is an excellent coach, but bottom line says he’s run his course in Buffalo. 16-plus years is an awful long time to coach in one city and it’s now crystal clear his daily message has gone stale for good. Hell, I’ve worked my boss for slightly less than two years and his sentiments usually go in one ear and out the other. Ruff’s players have tuned him out. There’s no explanation to put forth that type of effort after the explicit laced tirade Ryan Miller gave the media following Sunday’s loss.
I have no doubt Ruff would land on his feet elsewhere once he’s out of Buffalo. In fact, I’d bet he’d instantly become a hot commodity. But it’s time for Darcy Regier to (finally) break free of the status quo and start taking chances, and that comes with the removal of Ruff.
♦ I can’t fathom how Jochen Hecht keeps getting so much unproductive ice time while first-round rookie Mikhail Grigorenko languishes in the press box. Playing Hecht over Grigorenko says this team is supposed to “win now” and nothing can be further than the truth. Look, I know Hecht has offensive limitations and his role is not to be a sniper but come on, 17 games without a puck bouncing off your helmet for at least one goal? Hecht has played over 271 minutes this season and has zero goals and five assists to show for it. For Christ sake, get him out of here. If this team can’t contend for a Stanley Cup now, at least lose with your younger prospects on the ice.
♦ It seems every game a defensemen is a healthy scratch because of poor play, only to get back on the ice because the next guy in plays even worse. Jordan Leopold has stunk defensively all season and was a scratch last night, but who stepped up in his place and performed better? I really thought this unit was much better than they’ve showed.
♦ Jason Pominville’s reaction in the locker room after losses annoys me. There’s no fire in his belly and as team captain, that’s unacceptable. He’s a good player but I don’t like the lack of passion. He’s the Buffalo Sabres equivalent of Ryan Fitzpatrick—too political in his answers.
♦ Sticking with the Sabres/Bills comparison, Ryan Miller reminds me of Kyle Williams. He’s one of the few veterans not afraid to speak critically of himself and his teammates, while also playing well enough to back it up. From what I’ve seen Miller is having a strong season, which essentially ends up meaning he’s wasting a prime year of his career.
♦ Tied for 11th in the Eastern Conference and 27th place overall in the NHL. That’s your Buffalo Sabres. Maybe you still have rose colored glasses on, but mine came off following last night. This team stinks. They’re not good enough to compete regularly and earn a trip to the playoffs.
That’s all I got for right now. I’m sure you already get the idea as I’m not uncovering any stones here.