As the NHL playoffs continue without Buffalo, the Sabres and their fans are already looking forward to next season. Watching the San Jose vs. Detroit series, I realized that there is no way the Sabres could compete in a game, or series, of that intensity, which may be a key factor in why they lost to the Flyers in Game 7 and have won only one in the history of the franchise.
That all could change with the enormous amount of talent coming from Portland. In a couple of years, the team may be able to compete and win under that pressure. We saw it this season, but only in flashes. The Sabres won huge games during the regular season just to get into the playoffs.
Whatever the reason was for a largely disappointing Game 7 performance was, one could expect the Sabres to only improve in games of that magnitude.
Buffalo have already seen tremendous potential from players such as Tyler Ennis, Nathan Gerbe, Andrej Sekera, Tyler Myers, Jhonas Enroth and Marc-Andre Gragnani to name a few.
The Sabres have a talented, young core of players who are keeping the future of the team looking bright. Not only that, but the new God of “Hockey Heaven” has helped give the city true hope and another reason why fans should be thrilled for the Sabres upcoming season.
But, before we even get to Buffalo’s 2011-2012 season opener, which will be on October 8th against the Los Angeles Kings in Europe, the Sabres’ organization is expected to have one of its busiest summers in years. Terry Pegula made an immediate impact when he bought the team, and he isn’t interested in making a profit as owner.
“If I want to make some money, I’ll go drill a gas well,” Pegula said, who paid $189 million for the team.
While the Sabres look toward the offseason, there is still a problem that needs to be solved—who is the captain?
With the benching, and eventually waiving, of captain Craig Rivet, the Sabres are looking for an actual leader to wear the “C”. In recent years, players have grown weary to put on that “C”. It’s more than just a letter, but how many players are worthy of getting it?
At one point, the Sabres had a captain of the month, where they would switch the captain every month. It certainly didn’t make a definite, distinguished captain out of anyone.
Thomas Vanek would make the most sense as captain, even if he doesn’t possess all of the ingredients. The Sabres’ winger makes the most on the team with over $7 million per year and is signed through the next three seasons.
Now, some may argue that the amount of money a player makes should not enter the debate in who should be captain. In that case, look at what Vanek did this season after Derek Roy went down. Without him stepping up, the playoffs may not have even existed for the Sabres.
“If it happens it happens,” Vanek said. “If not, I’m not going to be disappointed. If it comes up, I’ll take the challenge, I’m always a guy that welcomes challenges.”
Only time will tell what happens prior to the beginning of next season. The Pegula factor will be in full swing and the Sabres could have a renewed, revitalized look to a team that is determined to make a deep run in the playoffs.
As the young players continue to mature and gain experience, Sabres fans can only watch as Buffalo could become one of the most feared teams in the NHL in the next few years.
This article was also featured on TheHockeyWriters as well as SabresHockeyCentral.