Tuesday, March 3, 2009

I Don't Know

I emailed Kate after the Islanders game and said, "I really hate that I have a hockey blog right now." I just... I don't even know what to say right now. When I started this blog I decided I really wanted to make a concerted effort to be as optimistic as possible. That's my nature anyway but I really missed that from the Buffalo sports scene. It's not that I think people should be calling into WGR all kittens and roses and it's not that I think sports fans, Buffalo sports fans in particular, don't have plenty to whine about. But part of what I hate about the typical sports discourse is how negative it is. People make sports sound not fun at all and that bums me out sometimes.

But this is not fun at all. Looking on the bright side with this particular team is starting to feel more and more like making excuses. Yes, Thomas Vanek is out right now and that hurts the offense but come one guys, one player should not make that much of a difference. If he does, we were going to be in trouble anyway. I'm just not sure what to make of these guys at all. I totally understand why management felt like they had a great core here. I didn't have a problem with any of the contracts signed in the last year or so not even Jochen Hecht's, as brutal as it looks right now. I know problems are compounded by Hecht going down the crapper and Jason Pominville struggling almost as badly. But it's beginning to look like this is a talented group of players who mostly like each other who are just not meshing on the ice. They look like they desperately need a shake-up of some kind. I don't know.

I've been thinking a lot about the trade deadline and I've been reading everyone's opinions on what the Sabres need to do and honestly, I have no idea where I stand. Part of me wants to blow the whole thing up. Trade a core player, one of the tight-knit circle, and rock the room a little. Make some noise and let everyone know you realize this roster as is isn't going to do the trick.

But the other part of me wants them to just add a couple of nice complements and get through the season. I think Kevin's right that a lot of the bigger deals are going to go down in the off-season when teams are evaluating their financial standing for the next year or two and possibly shedding salary and in that case, teams who have been cautious are more likely to benefit because they'll have room to add salary and bodies. Even someone as optimistic as me has to admit that this team doesn't have it. It doesn't have that spark or fire that allows an underdog to fight its way through the long haul of the NHL postseason. That one big trade isn't going to turn this season around so hoping for that one big trade is probably futile. The midseason trade deadline is really more about real contenders adding a couple of weapons and real dud teams selling off everything they can to build for the future and the Sabres find themselves firmly in the middle.

I don't know. I really don't.


Jill said...

I try to stay positive but my emotions take over and I want to trip them.

Heather B. said...

Jill, if tripping them is as bad as it's gotten for you, I think you're doing okay.

Vanek's Hair said...

I am at bad spot with this team right now. They aren't very interesting. They have no identity whatsoever. Think about it. Are they fast and high flying? No. Are they aggressive and physical? No. Do they rely on the world's best and most exciting goalie? No. (Three examples of previous incarnations of Sabres teams)

Add to that, there are't more than three or four players on the team I actually like.

I am hoping for an interesting move if any. No rentals. No prospects. Hopefully a move like the ones that brought Dumont, Briere or Grier in in the past.

Anonymous said...

WOw, I'm... disturbed about the negativity in the post and the comments.

Heather, you deserve the lead comment from me - only because it's your blog and your post.


This team isn't close to the team that wore the... well, black white and gold, or blue and gold, or whatever the Sabres uniforms were in 06-07.

This team is (a) younger on defense, (b) weaker at backup goalie, (c) really without a *daily playing* captain, and most of all (d) playing in a league that is clearly embracing a different style.

No. That's not excuses. That's the truth. I HATE Bucky for what he did during the summer of 2007 - but yeah, when he piously says this team is a couple of pieces away from going deep in the playoffs I'm forced to agree.

So we have a team with holes playing without what could be the league's top goal scorer and with a backup goalie who hasn't been good in, uh, 6 seasons.

Guess what? Despite that they dominated their opponents for long stretches. And - they couldn't bury the puck.


As for the comments? Now those are comments that sound like front-runners. Apologies Jill and Vanek's Hair... but let's break your words down:

(1) You can't separate your emotions about the final score form how they actually played.

(2) They only thing that's interesting is how many points they score.

(3) If they don't get any points... whether they outshot the opponent, outplayed them for most of the game, and had their backup goalie play JUST AS GOOD as their all-star one... who cares because they aren't high flying, or physical.

(4) You can only "like" players who are... well, what?

(5) You want moves that - like Dumont and Briere - matter in a season or two. Wait - that can't be right. Not with what else you said. Maybe you didn't realize how poor those moves looked when they were made at first?

Ah - nevermind. I've been disappointed as a fan. (Sabres, BIlls, Indians, and Penn State. ENough said.) I know when I'm just dealing with fans who've had realities hit home.

But think about this - right now they could make the playoffs. And could do that with a healthy lineup. ANd the one person who matters most in the season of learning... is coaching in his 12th year.

It's not how you do in November, February, or even Mach that matters. It's only that you are playing in mid-April and that you get hot.


Vanek's Hair said...


I am pretty negative about this version of the Sabres. Am I front runner? Maybe. If demanding my favorite team be good is front running, I plead guilty. In the absence of good, however, I'll take interesting. This team is neither.

I do need to like the players also. Again, not much in that department.

The reason I tagged the trades I tagged was because that type of trade is what this team needs. I refuse to name players because that is tired and fruitless.

What the trades I mentioned did was a bring a player to Buffalo who contributed well beyond the four weeks post deadline.

Lee said...

Sign Manny Ramirez!

Heather B. said...

Guess what? Despite that they dominated their opponents for long stretches. And - they couldn't bury the puck.


I disagree. Yes, they looked good in stretches but they also looked terrible in stretches. The Anaheim game started well and fell apart in the latter half and not just because they weren't burying shots. They've shown time and time again that they are, for whatever reason, incapable of playing 60 minutes on any kind of regular basis. They've shown that they can play the new style of the league you talked about but again, they don't do it on a regular basis. They'd prefer to be cute and showy. Lindy's been saying the same things since the beginning of last season, they've been saying the same things since last season but the team is still playing the same way, a way that usually does not work.

I like almost every player on the team immensely. That's part of why I'm so frustrated. I think it's a very talented group of players and said as much in the post. That's also part of the reason I'm so frustrated. They're a couple of pieces away from a deep postseason run for sure... but I don't see why that means people can't be disappointed in the way they're playing not just right now, but this season in general. I'm always hesitant to suggest that a pro athlete doesn't care or isn't trying hard - some of them are probably pressing TOO hard - but there have been many, many nights where they've appeared to not care and no, that is not the least bit entertaining or interesting to watch. The core is young but they're not babies anymore and they have plenty of experience of their own especially as a unit. I didn't compare them to the 05-06 team at any point. I'm comparing them to last season. And despite all the talk about how they learned and grown from last season, they've been mostly the same team this season.

It's not how you do in November, February, or even Mach that matters. It's only that you are playing in mid-April and that you get hot.

True. But November, February and March can be awfully revealing.

You can't separate your emotions about the final score form how they actually played.

A fan should never have to apologize for not being able to separate their emotions. Being a fan is all about the emotions and no matter how well a team is playing, it sucks to watch them lose.

Heather B. said...

Sign Manny Ramirez!

I sure as heck would. But that's a post for another day.

Jonathan said...

I don't know whether the Sabres should buy or sell at the deadline. I do know that the Sabres have reason to be optimistic.

Fans have a right to be upset. But let's face it, fans have a short memory. If the Sabres lost to the Islanders 2-0 on Feb. 13 and beat the Sharks 6-5 in an overtime thriller last Saturday, the perception on the team would be more positive. So perception is whatever it is. The Sabres are a mediocre team with a very very decent franchise goalie. Granted Crunchy is hurt but he's put up 2.50/.919 numbers behind a "meh" defense before the injury. He's won a few more games than he's lost. He's not a Vezina candidate but he's established himself as a legitimate second-tier goaltender (with tier one including Brodeur, Backstrom, etc.)

What's impressive about Crunchy is that he's played his best hockey the year after signing a big contract. I don't think I need to do a lot more to convince you he's got a no-doubt-about-it work ethic (especially since you're apparently following the Manny saga...lol). He's also several years younger than his prime. He's in year one of a five year contract. I could totally see him putting up a GAA in the 2.10-2.25 range during years 3-5 of his contract. Vezina numbers. Completely realistic if he keeps improving--and there's no reason to believe he won't.

Point being, the Sabres are set in goal for at least another four seasons beyond this one. They have a shotty core but a core nonetheless. They have the sniper to build around, they have some depth at D. They need better centers than what they have now, but Gerbe is coming along. They have very good tradeable parts. The cap is coming down this year, and that could play right into Regier's hands. The Sabres have a great chance to build around what they already have and swing a deal that can beef them up where they are soft.

In other words, they just might be a year away from getting those two extra pieces.

Sabres = mediocre. They were mediocre before the Ducks game and they're mediocre now. Kind of hard to freak out over the Islanders loss, considering the fact that they've been almost respectable and home and Yann Danis actually is having a very good season for them.

It would be nice if they got to the playoffs this year, as future seasons could build off of that. But regardless, I predict the Sabres will continue to improve over the next few years and they'll...well let's just say they'll be an obvious "buy now" team in 2-3 years. Patience is among the most annoying virtues. But it won't be THAT long before the Sabres reward that patience.

Heather B. said...

Jonathan, I agree that having Ryan Miller in net goes a long way for the Sabres. We've all seen over and over how a goalie can make or break a team. His play this season has been mostly encouraging.

And I do think you're right that there's reason to be optimistic. I don't think they'll be down for long. I just expected to see a little more growth between last season and this season, I think. I needed to wallow!