I've been saying this for years now. How long until the Sabres pull the plug on 61? Max is commonly referred to as Lindy Ruff's whipping boy. Is it unfair treatment?
For starters, the nine-year NHL veteran and career Sabre is still making the same mistakes he did when he entered the league.
Same story, different season.
Although it was not so long ago when Max led the team in points the year after the lockout, and was on pace to do the same the year after, before an injury slowed down the speedy winger, he still is just a average NHL player with above average speed.
Now, the past two seasons, he has been an utter disappointment...Wait, let's talk about this..
What exactly is Max's 'potential.' We tend think he's supposed to be putting up All-Star numbers when in fact that is far from truth. His career best numbers came at a time when he was playing in the shadows of Chris Drury and Daniel Briere. Now they are long gone and his number are no different then what they work before the lockout.
Why are we blind to this fact? He skates really fast?
He skates with the best of them, but in the offensive zone, he is clueless. He begins to skate in crazy circles, give the puck away, make a bad pass, or miss the net.
Yes. That's more like it. These are the results we are most accustomed to. So why is this a never ending story in Buffalo?
Buffalo has had one of the best farm systems for years. And now the Portland Pirates are one of the best teams in the AHL. Mark Mancari has already made an immediate impression on coaches and the media after his season debut a few nights ago. He's a hard nosed guy with a shot compared by many to Ales Kotalik's. But unlike Kotalik's, Marcari's shot finds the net.
Nathan Gerbe and Tim Kennedy are also blossoming in the AHL. But why can't they suit up in Blue & Gold and do the same? What is with Buffalo management that they won't allow young players to come into the league right away and play.
It is almost a league parody now to let your top young draft picks come right into the league and learn and possibly make immediate impacts. Crosby, Kane, Toews, Staal(s), Price to name a few.
They didn't spend time in the minors, but already they are among the league's All Stars.
There is another reason why Afinogenov's time in Buffalo is short. Buffalo has young stars awaiting opportunities and Max's, and maybe a few other's on the Sabres roster, spot is hanging in the balance.
Also, rumor has it that the Colorado Avalanche are still interested in Max. Avalanche scouts have attended the last six Sabres' games, according to local sports radio here in Buffalo. Earlier in the year we heard the Svatos-Afinogenov rumor. Maybe a deal between the two clubs is still in the works.
In an interview after practice Wednesday, Max let everyone know how unhappy he was about being a healthy scratch for two straight nights. He let everyone know how unhappy he was with his coach, but declined to comment on whether or not he would like to play for another team.
But one thing is clear, Maxim Afinogenov will spend his holidays in a North American city other than Buffalo...His time has long passed.