The NEXT GREAT SABRES BLOGGER: Help Us Pick The Next Round...Part 2
Ek's note: Hey there Sabres faithful. You've seen your ten contestants and now it is time to narrow the field from ten to 5. Over the next two days I will be posting three blogs and asking for your honest opinions on who you would like to be your next great Sabres blogger? I was thoroughly impressed with all ten that we posted and there were many more that were great but didn't quite make the cut. Here are the first three for your consideration. Please start your comment with your pick among these three. The blogger picked the most in your comments over the next 24 hours will be asked to write a second article for consideration. So 3 of the 5 finalists will be selected directly by you and the other two will be selected as wildcards by your votes and our editors... Good luck to the first three. note..I've posted the first 100 or so words from each writer, but you can see their entire articles simply by hitting archive above...
Contestant 2: Simon.
Under normal circumstances, a long-term injury to captain and franchise centre Jack Eichel would be disastrous for the Buffalo Sabres – especially heading down the stretch run to the playoffs. Unlike the Edmonton Oilers (who have Leon Draisaitl to fall back on if Connor McDavid winds up on the injured reserve) or the Toronto Maple Leafs (who can turn to Mitch Marner, John Tavares, and William Nylander to pick up the slack when Auston Matthews gets hurt) the Sabres' offence rises and sets with Eichel, and a serious injury to number 15 at this point in the season means that the playoffs are, for all intents and purposes, out of reach.
Under normal circumstances, the news that Eichel will be sidelined for the "foreseeable future" with an undisclosed upper body injury (as was announced by Ralph Krueger on Saturday) would be the kind of thing that ought to send a thrill of terror through general manager Kevyn Adams. GM jobs are, as we all know, precarious, and yet another playoff miss for his reeling Sabres squad could have him flipping through the classified ads well before Ron Francis makes his first selection at the Seattle expansion draft.
These are not, however, normal circumstances. They are so very not normal, in fact, that Eichels' injury could be just the opportunity Adams needs to save his job and turn the Sabres into a playoff team for next season – provided, of course, that he sees the opportunity for what it is, and capitalizes upon it.
Contestant #5: Brian
State of the Sabres - Is there any light at the end of the tunnel?
-Update- The Sabres have fired Ralph Krueger
The Sabres current state can easily be summed up in one word, Dire. At the time of this article, the Sabres are sitting in last place in the entire NHL. Going into the season who would have thought the Sabres would be looking up in the standings at teams like Detroit and Ottawa? Maybe our luck has taken the first step in turning around with the firing of Ralph Krueger, it was almost scripted that it happened on Saint Patty’s Day.
With the talent on the roster, plus the surprising signing of Taylor Hall, many fans had visions of competing for a playoff spot at the start of the season. Unfortunately those thoughts of success were quickly dampened as the season progressed. When COVID hit the team, and Skinner was benched the team has been painful to watch, to put it lightly.
We are now in a place where the vast majority of Sabres fans are questioning the ability of our current general manager to act. The team’s best player, Jack Eichel, is out for an indefinite period of time. Top pairing defense-man, Jake McCabe, who was playing very good hockey at the beginning of the year, is out for the rest of the season and a UFA. The clear number one goalie, Linus Ullmark, is out for at least one month, and now the team’s most prized prospect, Dylan Cozens, is day-to-day with an upper body injury after taking a very questionable hit.
Now lets talk about the now former coach, Ralph Krueger for a bit. As interesting of a hire as he was, this year in particular has shown that he is not a capable coach at the NHL level. He has clearly lost the ability to motivate his players, most noticeably after benching Jeff Skinner and relegating him to the 4th line. His line combinations have left many Sabres fans and hockey enthusiasts scratching their heads. With the season basically lost at this point, what was he thinking in continuing to play guys like Kyle Okposo over youngsters like Tage Thompson who just recently got back into the line-up. As a fun side note, irony strikes hard in the fact that the last goal scored by the Sabres under Ralph Kruger was by Jeff Skinner.
Contestant #8: Bradley
Where art thou Gilbert Perreault?
I am that person who feels the pain but still watches the tire fire. One of the millions of Sabre fans who are passionate enough to keep on following our beloved team regardless of at times the peculiar way the organization has been run. I understand the complexity of the modern hockey era and the dynamics that cloak it more than ever before, but I truly believe that it just can’t be that hard to have moderate success. This year more than ever before we are seeing jaw dropping confusion amongst the leadership, management, coaching, and the players.
Before we get into the current roster or our favorite role models of the past lets just reflect a little on how lucky we are to have a National Hockey team in this amazing city supported by Toronto and Fort Erie, two great lakes, great skiing a short distance to the south, architectural integrity, and some of the most genuine hard working people you will ever meet. We are not robots here in Western New York, there is cultural and socioeconomic diversity everywhere you go. Pockets of people who understand how to get along for the most part. So many great places to go and see thirty minutes away from each other on a good day. Why we have a team though is that Western New York’s love for hockey surpasses at least seventy percent of any other region that has an NHL team to root for. Our youth hockey programs are professional and in tune with any demographic in the United Stated (I am going to graciously leave Canada out of this conversation, it is where the sport was born and they deserve the legacy and respect. It is just the way it is and has to be.) Buffalo is on par with Boston and Minnesota. If I missed any other hot bed for watching your kid foil up and be a part of the best sport in the world it’s my bad because when you are in the moment in Pittsburgh or Cleveland and your son is in that locker room, you hear the tape tightening down the shin pads, you see dads checking their sons stick. It is something that is truly special. The arena awaits, the gladiators are ready for a game. Oh yeah, when you are walking to your place to watch, you pass the goalie in his head bouncing tennis balls off the wall in a narrow corridor. You may slap him on the pants but don’t have a conversation. He is in a zone, don’t mess with it. That is bad karma, hockey is like that.