Friday, November 5, 2010

How Do You Solve a Problem Like the Sabres?

I just want to say that I have NO idea what is with the spacing issues lately. I know it looks terrible, but I really don't know how to fix it, and I'm going to be changing blogging platforms soon so I'm honestly not that concerned about figuring it out. Also, it's 2:11 in the morning. For now, just know that I realize it looks really ugly. I'm sorry. It won't be an issue much longer.

I’ve been pondering the Sabres and their current dilemma and here’s where I keep getting stuck: this is not an issue of talent, not entirely at least.  Don’t get me wrong, this team is not talented enough to win the Stanley Cup at least not without Ryan Miller playing completely out of his mind. But there is no way the Sabres are the least talented team in the NHL. I said before the season started that they should be a playoff team, and I'd still say that now. They should be a playoff team.  I could sit here and list all the things that the Sabres need to fix on the ice - the power play is awful (again), their defense is sloppy, they're not working hard enough - but I'm not sure any of that matters. The problem is clearly much, much deeper than what's on the ice.

I love the little girl on the glass, literally waving goodbye to all her Sabres-related hopes and dreams.

Which means I don't what the problem is. And that is VERY annoying Is it the attitude of certain players? Is it a total lack of leadership in the dressing room? Are the players rebelling against The System? Are they sick of listening to Lindy Ruff? Is Lindy Ruff sick of talking to them? Is upper management's emphasis on the bottom line trickling down and annoying the players? 

Maybe more accurately, I know what the problem is - these are not new problems really - but I don't know what the best fix is. I don't know because I'm not privy to that side of the team and that makes things really frustrating. I want to be able to say that putting Player X with Player Y or trying Player Z on the power play point will fix everything, and it's just not as simple as that.

I don't listen to WGR a whole lot, but I do follow Schopp on Twitter and a few days ago he tweeted, "Can the Sabres season be saved?" A few minutes later he changed it to, "SHOULD the Sabres season be saved?" In retrospect, I kind of wish I'd turned on the radio and listened to what he had to say because I think that's a really interesting question. Lindy said in his presser after the Boston game that he thinks he and the team will get through this bad period together. He said at his Greater Buffalo Sports Hall of Fame induction tonight that the Sabres will make the playoffs. But do we want that? Do we want another season of the Sabres making the playoffs and going out as soon as they run up against a team with more desire? (i.e. all of them) Or worse, another season where they finish just outside the playoffs but close enough that the team isn't unhappy with itself? Do we want any more reason for management to think, "Maybe these guys will be okay," when they so clearly aren't? Or to say "Obviously Lindy isn't the problem" when love him or not, he probably is at least part of the problem?

Should the Sabres season be saved? I don't really have a good answer for that question either. As a fan, of course I would prefer that the Sabres make the playoffs. The playoffs are fun and yes, the irrational fan in me says and, more importantly, believes that anything can happen once the playoffs start. But maybe it is best to burn it down and start from scratch. Maybe the only thing that will get management's attention is a complete and total, inarguable failure of a season. If we could just magically jump from right now to the end of the season, I'd be fine with no playoffs, last place, and a lottery pick in the draft. But do I really want to watch and blog about six more months like this last one? No freaking way. I've also seen firsthand, in other parts of my sports fandom, how it's sometimes not that easy to rebuild a team that's been completely blown up, particularly when there are question marks about how serious management is about making changes and how effective the people in charge of making those changes will be. Maybe it's better to put up with another season of squeaking in and going out.

I don't know. I don't know anything. What do you know? What do you think? What do you want?


Ebscer said...

What I know for sure is that I want the team to make the playoffs.

Even if you are going to rebuild, attracting talent is easier if you have a good team (look at the deal Turco was willing to accept). I don't see having a really bad season helping that much (anyone think the Bills will make the playoffs next year?). The issue of moving players out has more to do with terms of the contracts, then their production on the ice.

That said, something has to be done defense well before the trade deadline. Despite his iffy season Myers is still far better then the rest...

Meg said...

I don't know what I think or what I want. I do know that I don't like this team. I love the Sabres, of course, but I'd also love a large number of the players to take a long walk off a short pier.

James W said...

There was a two part documentary on the overhaul that the Edmonton Oilers overtook this past off season called Oil Change that ran on the NHL Network in the last week.

I was jealous.

After the horrible season that the Oilers had last year their owner (who's company produced the documentary, FWIW) felt that they needed a huge culture change and to commit to a sizable rebuild.

I was jealous that the Oilers had an owner that cared about his team and was involved in a shift in direction for the on ice product.

I was jealous that they had a buch of really good young forward prospects like Eberle, Paajarvi, and then Taylor Hall.

I was jealous that their GM was willing to cut ties with guys that were seen as part of the problem.

While many Bills fans have gotten to the point where they don't have a lot of hope for the team while Ralph is the owner, I wonder if there is any chance that the culture change the Sabres need will ever happen with Golisano & Quinn are the owner/managing partner duo with the Sabres.

I was jealous of Tampa Bay getting Steve Yzerman to take over that club.

I hope that one day Golisano will wake up and make the culture change that the Sabres need to really compete for the Cup.

I'm just not very hopeful that that day will ever come......

Heather B. said...

Even if you are going to rebuild, attracting talent is easier if you have a good team (look at the deal Turco was willing to accept)

That's a good point, Ebscer. To have a questionable reputation around the league AND be void of talent is definitely a bad combo. The one good thing about a terrible season would be getting a sure-fire, goal-scoring lottery pick because the current roster is definitely in need of that. Vanek and Roy are talented obviously, but neither of them has thrived on being The Guy.

I do take some comfort in the fact that, even if the Sabres finish tenth, Stafford and Connolly are going to be gone next season. I think that at this point, both might be a case of addition by subtraction. I mean, they probably should have been gone before now but you know.

Meg, I think the unlikability of this team is HUGE. Last year I felt like the media was saying I disliked the team more than I really did, but this year, yeah. There are precious, precious few players who I would miss on any kind of personal level if they blew up the whole team and that makes it even harder to watch a team play so badly.

James W., that documentary sounds pretty interesting. I'll have to see if it's running again.

I agree that Quinn and Golisano are a big concern. I don't mean to keep coming back to the Pirates but they're kind of my baseline here. Part of the reason that things got so bad with them and then stayed so bad is because of the completely dysfunctional ownership that hired completely dysfunctional front office people. They finally have a GM with at least most of a brain and some legitimate talent but it's taken EIGHTEEN YEARS... and they're still not a .500 team. I think Regier deserves his fair share of blame for where we are. I think Ruff deserves his fair share of blame as well. I'm not sure it really matters who the GM and coach are under this ownership and THAT is kind of a depressing thought.

mcguffers said...

I annoys me that for all the talk of keeping our core together, our core can't seem to play together. Most of our forwards have been together for, what, 4 or 5 years now? And they still can't find good line combinations? I used to love the Pommers/Goose/Yo-Yo line because the three of them seemed to trust each other and always find each other for that quick pass to goal. Now I see a bunch of lost puppies. (no offense to puppies!)

I'll be pretty upset if we get to the trade deadline and the Sabres have their phone off the hook like most seasons.