With Steve Ott sharing his opinion on the subject today, it begs the question: Should Buffalo Sabres fans be booing?
Ott's opinion has been widely circulated (via TSN.ca) and has certainly caused a lot of internal debate amongst Sabres fans. He makes some good points, yet there are plenty of counterarguments available as well.
So what's the right answer here? That's hard to determine in this case for a number of reasons.
First and foremost, the Sabres have been either inconsistent or bad for most of the season.
They won the New Jersey game in spite of themselves on Sunday, no matter how close the game was on the scoreboard. They gave up both a power-play and (another) short-handed goal and were only in the game due to the play of Ryan Miller. So despite the close game on the scoreboard, there was a lot to be unhappy with.
Secondly, the Sabres are clearly in some level of a rebuild. They are now officially the youngest team in the NHL and one can assume they'll only get younger at the end of the year, with Jochen Hecht most certainly on his way out in addition to the potential departures of Drew Stafford, Thomas Vanek and Ryan Miller.
Booing Brian Flynn or Mark Pysyk isn't really "going to the source."
Sure, there are plenty of underachievers on the team right now. Tyler Myers and Drew Stafford lead that list in bold font, but there are guys that have played with tons of heart, like Ott and Mike Weber.
Simply stated, Ott's comments that the booing is not helping makes a lot of sense from the young guys' prospective.
Lastly, there are a lot of frustrating things that continue to happen despite the struggles the team has had over the past few months.
How Jochen Hecht plays almost 17 minutes Sunday night is beyond anyone who has watched this team's comprehension anymore. There was some excuse when Lindy Ruff was still around because he was clearly a favorite of his for years, but one would think that a new coach with a new perspective would fix this. Sure, he has good games, but he's useless five times more than he's helpful.
Added to Ron Rolston's cavalier attitude toward sitting guys like Marcus Foligno in the past or playing Cody Hodgson with John Scott and Patrick Kaleta, it makes absolutely no sense.
Basically, despite all the changes in personnel—both behind the bench and the players on the ice—it seems like not much has changed in the attitude of the team.
So where does this leave us?
Essentially, fans have every right to boo, but that's different from whether they should be booing. Yes, this season has not gone well and, yes, this team has been one of the most underachieving groups we may ever see, but does that mean booing is necessary?
It certainly is at some junctures, but the constant booing may be doing more harm than good.
The power play sucks. The penalty kill sucks. The defensive zone coverage has not gotten much better. The breakouts are sloppy and forced. However, is it time the fans just come to terms with that and let the players play?
Honestly, I don't know the answer. I hear both sides on this and want to be able to take a side, but I just cannot.
As the yearly "let's make a frantic playoff push" seems to have commenced, it may be actually frustrating the fans even more due to the obvious fact that this team is not presently likely to win a playoff series, let alone the Stanley Cup. The fans may be warmer to the idea of a top draft pick than a first-round exit from the playoffs, and there's a lot of logic in that.
Regardless, the booing will continue, the players will continue to get upset and the only way to end the problem is for the team to start winning. And not the way it did Sunday.