I've been quite the staunch supporter of the Buffalo Sabres, but lately I'm beginning to take a step back and analyze why I've supported the organization.
The basis for my support is no longer in the fold anymore, after finding that it was the players that made me excited to watch this team. Chris Drury, Daniel Briere, J.P. Dumont, Jay McKee, Mike Peca, Curtis Brown, Stu Barnes...and the list goes on.
This year, the name that can be put out there as the more appealing player to the fans is Brian Campbell. This young man will likely find himself suffering the demise of what many famed Sabres have in the past. His contract is running out at this season's end. He will then become an unrestricted free agent. What does an unrestricted free agent and Buffalo usually have in common? They, of course, don't make efforts to makes deals until it's too late.
As I write this, he remains unsigned, the Sabres have lost 9 games in a row, three of the last being shootout losses. You can't make the playoffs by losing every game in a shootout for the point from now until the end of the season. Last year, the 90+ point range was needed to push into the playoffs, and with that in mind, the Sabres are looking at missing the playoffs after finishing out the best two seasons in their franchise history in a row. How does a team go from being on top after the lockout and come within inches from the Stanley Cup finals by appearing the Eastern Conference finals two years in a row, and now become a team barely looking to make playoffs? I think I have an answer...
Maybe it's time we take a look on the inside for this one. Larry Quinn and Darcy Regier are not the flashy, gutsy pairing duo that will go out and try to pick up someone through the trades or even through signing their own.
Can you imagine if Alex Ovechkin was with the Sabres? Of course not. Why? Because if he were on the team this year, and being it the last on his contract, the Sabres' managing partners would wait until he became unrestricted before throwing out numbers to him.
No more playing poker with the future of this team. You go to the conference finals twice in a row, 100+ point seasons twice as well, and then you lose the core of the success to free agency due to inactivity. It's time for a change Buffalo. Regier and Quinn must be held accountable for placing us in this situation. Vanek isn't producing and is way over-paid, Afinogenov needs to get traded for consistent talent, and leadership is needed from a strong veteran due to Teppo Numminen's no-longer anticipated return.
Act now Darcy and Larry, or you may want to begin packing up.