But when it comes to Buffalo Sabers fans, how can you really empathize with one of the worst wind-blown droughts in modern professional sports history? How do you explain, year after year, the disappointments, discouragement and absolute heartaches?
As if the last decade hadn’t been dreadful enough – and lo and behold, it sure was dreadful, with the Sabers failing to make the playoffs in the past 10 years; and with the team finishing sixth, seventh, or eighth in the Atlantic or East Division in each of the past eight straight seasons – imagine what it must be like to know that the upcoming 2021-22 campaign is going to be horrible, game one probably until Game 82. Sabers general manager Kevyn Adams has already eliminated one of his team’s best defenders (Rasmus Ristolainen, traded to Philadelphia), lost his starting goalie (Linus Ullmark, who signed with rivals from the Atlantic Bruins in Boston) and shipped their top scorer and goalscorer (Sam Reinhart, again, against an Atlantic rival in the Florida Panthers) last season.Now imagine that this is just the beginning of the pain.
The real agony, of course, will be when Adams finally finds a job worthy of captain and star center Jack Eichel, who has made no secret of his desire to wear a different uniform each time he’s finished rehabilitating a wobbly neck. As usually happens with these type of deals, the franchise that acquires a talent like Eichel’s always ends up being seen as the winner, and this trade should be no different. Even if Adams finds a way to get a very high draft pick and / or prospects ready to blow the NHL right away, the fact remains that he will get rid of the player who once there isn’t. for so long, was seen and marketed as “the future” in Buffalo. And maybe that’s why skepticism among Sabers fans is at its height: Under current owners Terry and Kim Pegula, Buffalo fans have heard the message “rebuilding takes time and patience.” More than enough times to test anyone’s time and patience. Why should anyone believe that they are going to succeed this time around, when so many promised roads to victory have ended in so many embarrassing dead ends?
The good people of Buffalo deserve better, but they’re not going to get better anytime soon. Will they be better than the rebuilding of the Detroit Red Wings this coming year? Most likely not. Will they be competitive against the booming Ottawa Senators in 2021-22? Doubtful. Most likely, again, is another last place, another trip to the NHL Draft Lottery and another set of hopes that will likely be dashed as another generation of fans try to find hope. with this organization.
Even with head coach Don Granato installed as a permanent bench chief, even with the No.1 pick in the 2021 Draft Owen Power in their pipeline, and even with plenty of opportunities for young players to step in and earn a job. full time in the NHL, the end result is that there will be a lot more nights than not that the Sabers are going to be out of games and out early. To say that their goaltending duo, veterans Craig Anderson and Aaron Dell are not the best in the league, is to show charity, and to say that they believe they can somehow Another getting a playoff berth is laughable.
And it’s probably going to be bad from the first game of the regular season. The Sabers’ schedule begins with a five-game homestand, but even then, three of those five games (against the Montreal Canadiens, Vancouver Canucks and Bruins) will be considered must-have wins for their opponent; and the other two (against Arizona and New Jersey) could also be “gimmes” for the other party.The Sabers then set off on a four-game West Coast road trip that includes face-offs against all three California teams (who are all better on paper than Buffalo) as well as their very first game against the Seattle Kraken expansion. This showdown can be the most painful of all, especially if the Kraken (who like virtually every team in the league are better on paper than Buffalo) scores the scoring and shows the Buffalonians that even a team in its freshman year of existence was better built to win than the Sabers.
After that game, the Sabers get a “break” when they host the Red Wings, then end November with 11 games; only three games (including another game against Detroit, their first game of the year against the evolving Columbus Blue Jackets and their first game hosting the Kraken) will be in the “clearly winnable” category for them.
It is entirely possible that they will win a few of these battles, but more likely they will lose 15 or 16 of the 22 games, and are well on their way to ensuring that the second half of the season is no man’s. competitive land. has been for them in recent years. By the second month of the year, they could therefore be out of the playoff race; Christmas won’t be around the corner, but for Sabers fans, the smut will be coming to Amazon Hyper-Prime, and nothing Power will do when it returns to the U.S. college level for the year will make it any more enjoyable for the year. taste.Will there be individual rewards that Sabers players compete for? Not at all likely. Will they try to get rid of their other veterans, with an eye for post-season discord down the line? Probably, but no one should expect results to change the course of the trading market.
Again, Buffalo will likely be two years away from the playoffs. It’ll be an ugly 2021-22 bowling shoe campaign for the Sabers, and nothing less than an on-ice miracle (Copyright 1980 US Olympic men’s hockey team) will prevent it.
So, empathy? No. No one can now know what it has meant to be a Sabers fan over the past decade and more. The franchise has had real Stanley Cup claims, but those days seem farther away than ever – and no single trade, or multiple moves, will bring them together.