Monday, November 8, 2010

Is That... Hope?

I'm not sure that a lot of questions about the Sabres were really answered Saturday night with their win against the Leafs, but I can now firmly answer something about myself:  I do not have it in me to cheer for a bad season.  It was probably silly how clearly excited the Sabres were about that win, but honestly, I was every bit as excited.  Part of it was Jochen Hecht finally scoring his first goal and doing it in dramatic fashion, part of it was Jhonas Enroth looking better than he did in his previous start, part of it was itty bitty Tyler Ennis' very pretty move in the shootout, and part of it was beating the Leafs which is always a joy.  But there's no doubt about it, I was really and truly excited.

I immediately started wondering if this was it, the game that was finally going to get everything turned around.  I thought, "Lindy is right!  Every team has bad streaks!  Our is just at the beginning of the season!  This team is not THAT bad!  It's all going to be okay!"

In other words, I'm a sucker.

I have settled a little bit from my "Should they or shouldn't they get better?" post however.  I don't know if Lindy Ruff and Darcy Regier are going to be here next season or not, but regardless of who's in charge, there will be a fairly large roster turnover.  Tim Connolly and Drew Stafford will not be back.  Craig Rivet won't be back.  I'd say Mike Grier is probably on the bubble of not being back.  I'm guessing Rob Niedermayer and Patrick Lalime won't be back.  Some of those guys might not make a huge difference but that does automatically mean at least some changes in the top six.  It also creates a fair amount of money and space, both something that the Sabres often lack.

Which is not to say that I want to toss off this season for next one.  I mean, jeez, how many seasons now have we said, "Well, NEXT year we'll have space/money/opportunity."  But it does make me wonder if management wasn't thinking that we'd make the playoffs this year and that they'd then really make some changes next year.  I'm not saying that was the right way to approach things especially with Connolly.  I'm just speculating.  But I am sure they did not expect things to be this bad right now.  It also makes me feel like we probably don't need to completely bottom out this season in order to see some improvement down the road.

I don't know.  I do know that when it comes to either wallowing in the despair of a long, losing season or grasping at any sign of hope, I'm a grasper.  So for now, right this second, I'm hoping.  I'm not hoping that we'll win the Stanley Cup - I'm a dreamer, I'm not insane - but hoping that the entire season isn't going to be like October?  That seems fairly reasonable.  I hate the idea of either just missing or just making the playoffs again, but I hate the idea of being way, way out of it early even more.  Sorry, people who want a number one pick.  I like to win hockey games.

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