Do you ever get to the point where you are just over the drama of cheering for or booing a sports team? When everything starts to feel manufactured and you catch yourself getting worked up about something that really doesn't mean anything? Like, what is the point? When the discord is at its highest, sometimes you just feel kind of over it, especially when we've been through it hundreds of times. Sports are supposed to be fun, but it just sucks the life out of you when it gets to this point of a toxic relationship. That's where I am at with the Sabres.
Importance of faceoffs
Hecht vs. Kaleta
Should Terry Pegula be speaking in public?
Is Ryan Miller a leader?
Is Jason Pominville too nice?
Is Andrew Peters a bozo?
The topics of debate have become so contrived and silly.
For me, the biggest concern is just how ambivalent I am about this team right now. In a way, I don't even have the energy to debate these topics because it won't change the Sabres. None of the above will aid in helping the Sabres turn it around. They could win every single faceoff and Hecht could find the fountain of youth, and yet the team would continue to wilt like a dead rose. It is just a bunch of distractions before the Sabres season ends.
It also doesn't help that as fans and writers, we constantly need to have a stupid black/white angle take on topics that really doesn't matter to the team's future. In other words, we have way bigger fish to fry than trying to figure out who has the bigger dick when it comes to arguing faceoffs or if Pommers is a bad leader because the team sucks or if the team sucks because Pommers is a bad leader.
I blame the Sabres for all of this.
Fans are so frustrated at this point that they need new ways to channel their anger. It isn't enough that the team just sucks. We need to argue about silly things that seem to be making us ****** dumber as a sports scene. I'm not saying you can't argue, but argue about things that actually matter.
I guess the problem is there is no argument about the Sabres at this point. We all agree that the Sabres are a fricken junkyard fire.
They lack talent, they lack identity, and most importantly, the have pretty much quit. So have the fans. This season needs to end and we need to find a new vision for this team. Changes need to take place and frankly, that's what keeps me hoping, albeit, very faintly.
I don't care about making the playoffs at this point. I don't care about debating lame-ass topics. I want there to be significant change. Whether it happens at the trade deadline or July 1st, something major needs to change before the start of next season. So, here's what I would do:
Fire Darcy Regier - Between now and the end of the season, the Sabres should pull the trigger. I don't want to hear anything from www.advancedprospectsstats.com about how he's great at drafting or that the Cody Hodgson trade should buy him another year. Give me a ****** break. You are what your record says you are.
If there's one area where Regier has never been handcuffed, it is the draft. Golisano/Quinn loved the draft because it was a great way to advertise cheap, inexpensive talent to the public and then have a fan base gobble up the youngsters as the heir apparent. "Oh, Drury and Brier are gone. No worries. We have Kotalik, Max, Mike Ryan, Clarke MacArthur and others waiting in the wings."
The whole notion that he's a drafting genius is incredibly misguided. This team in essence has been built from his drafts and yet, how many playoff series have we won since 2007? You can tell me all you want about how teams like the Hawks/Pens built their squads via top 5 picks year in and year out, but I'd then show you a team like Detroit, who never picks in the top 10, yet, they have some sort of Swedish factor that produces guys out of nowhere. Other than his overrated drafting prowess, Darcy seems to have about a .200 batting average when it comes to trades. His usage of the salary cap has been dreadful since Pegula took over.
Worst yet, he overrates his players.
Bucky had a piece recently in TBN saying that there are more Sabres from 09/10 on the current roster than the Blackhawks have on their current roster from the Cup wining team. That's pretty amazing. Now, I'll give you something else to choke on. By 2000, only 9 players from the 1998 team that Darcy inherited remained. That's it. And that team was a division winner.
In a 2-year span, he got rid of almost half of his roster. Why? Because Darcy had absolutely no attachment to them. You think if Darcy drafted Mike Wilson in the 1st round, he would have traded him before he turned 23? Absolutely not. He's too scared to give up on these guys. That's the problem here. Darcy's rate of change is on par with the tortoise running a marathon with the hare.
His time is up.
He needs to get fired. Find an assistant GM from a team that has won the cup and give him the power to right this stupid ship.
Goodbye expiring contracts - It is safe to say Jordan Leopold and Robyn Regehr are not going to re-sign after this season, right? Leopold has been awful this season while Regehr has been kind of meh throughout his tenure here. So trade these guys for picks before you lose them for nothing. Simple as that. I'm pretty sure that at this juncture both guys are totally over playing here and want to go elsewhere and have a chance at winning the Cup. To me, it isn't about the draft picks, but just the peace of mind that management isn't filled with a bunch of idiots when it comes to knowing to get something for these guys. The heroic run is over, kids.
Give away Drew Stafford...and maybe Tyler Myers - God, how often have we gone over how the Sabres need to sometimes give away a player. It always seemed like Derek Roy was the poster child for such a move. Addition by subtraction, right? Well, we are at that with Stafford. I think the dude is pretty much fried here. He's just been here for too long and he does not seem to react well to adversity.
As for Tyler Myers, that's a tough one, but when you hear rumors about Myers' conditioning being an issue for the last three years (TBN has mentioned it and I've heard the same from other places), you tend to wonder if the commitment is even there from him. He's gotten better since the coaching change, but he's not worth the salary they are paying him. He just doesn't seem to have a high hockey IQ. I'm not all the way there like with Stafford, but I'd listen. I just think there are too many issues with his plays and think it is pretty odd that he went from rookie of the year to an inconsistent d-man over the last three years.
29 vs. 30 vs. 26 - These guys have obviously come up as trade assets. I've heard through the grapevine that interest is pretty high from other teams for all 3 players. This isn't breaking news, I assure you. I think there are a lot of pros/cons for trying to pick which player should leave or go:
Jason Pominville's pros: He's probably the cheapest option of the three in terms of upcoming salary. He's the captain. He has had a decent year, albeit inconsistent year. Only 30-years-old and probably the best 2-way player on the team when his head is on straight.
Jason Pominville's cons: He's probably going to get a raise (6-million a year) and he's probably not worth it. He's also been targeted for not being a good enough leader and being too nice (I think that's ********, as leadership in hockey locker rooms is overrated, especially when your team blows). Probably the least popular player of the three. Some feel he's given up on the season and is showing a lack of passion on the defensive end of the ice.
Thomas Vanek's pros: Best offensive player on the team. The youngest of the trio. Has shown flashes that he can carry a team offensively.
Thomas Vanek's cons: He's not a consistent franchise player and he will probably get paid like one when he hits free agency. He's too inconsistent to be the best forward on the team (11 goals in first 11 games and 3 goals in his last 15 games).
Ryan Miller's pros: He's the face of the franchise. He has won games by himself and has had little help from the team in front of him. He's a leader and tells it like it is.
Ryan Miller's cons: He's the oldest of the trio. The perception is that Miller would want to play for a winner or move out west by his wife. He seems the most burned out by playing here.
If it were up to me and I could only pick one, I'd probably keep Miller. I don't think you can win with 29 and 26 as the face of your franchise. I like them as far as players go, but I just see them mostly as being 2nd line guys in the grand scheme of things. I also think the pressure of being The Man has gotten to them. I guess you could say the same for Miller, but I go back to his Olympic run when he was in the zone and had very little help in the scoring department from his guys. He can handle the pressure of being the backbone of this team while the other two have the backbone of a sponge at times.
If you pay both of them anywhere between 6-8 million a year, which is very possible in this market, you aren't getting a top 20 player at that position. I also think you can get a ton for Vanek because of his age.
As for why I'm keeping Miller, it is simple: I think he's a guy that can win you games by himself.
I go back to the 1995 example when the Sabres traded Mogilny and had to rebuild with Hasek being the only real legit player on the team. They redefined their team game and became a more defensive-minded hockey team and just let the goalie win them games. You have to understand, the way the Sabres are as far as position in the standings, it feels like they would get a bunch of prospects back for any of these guys. I just don't think we'll have a LaFontaine for Turgeon type swap. When was the last time a trade happened where a 40-goal scorer was traded for another 40-goal scorer? It hardly seems to happen.
Get prospects for 26/29 and then just reinvent yourself as a defensive first hockey team with Miller as your anchor. Then hope that some of these prospects grow up quickly while Miller plays the goalie you can ride until nothing is left. Of course, Miller may not want that, which could be a problem in keeping him here.
Again, you have to start gutting the core of this team and not trying to add guys around them. The core is dead and we need to wave the white flag. These are the guys who have value on this team and have expiring deals which could make them enticing to move.
Final word: Yeah guys, I've pretty much checked out. The Sabres are such a drag at this point that I can't even muscle up any sort of raw belligerence. A part of me misses the glory days of being irrational and arguing with Sabres apologists about why the team sucks or is on the right path. At least we all cared. Now I can't even muster up a classic rage storm about whether the Sabres were right or wrong to send Grigomania back to Quebec. I'm kind of beaten and over it. They just suck the life out of you.
I've gone from denial to anger and now to acceptance.
I'm annoyed, but I just don't know what that accomplishes in the grand schemes of things. I've been angry so many times before about what the team has not done, but what is the point of being pissed? Nothing seems to really change for the better. All this stuff I just wrote about what they should do as far as trades goes has been echoed so many times on this site that it feels like nothing more than a recording.
Now I just laugh at us and how the last two years have been such a disaster. I'm just shrugging my shoulders and saying that it is what it is. Maybe I'm just getting too old for this ****.