The Drury-Briere era Sabres team has long become folklore in hockey heaven. This extremely short period of Sabres history saw a team that never gave up and made a habit of tying games in the waning seconds of playoff games and going on to win it in overtime. Not only has the dominance and never-say-die attitude disappeared from Buffalo's beloved hockey team, but also has the quality leadership from guys like Chris Drury and Daniel Briere.
When these two left it was assumed that the underlying core would take over and continue leading the Sabres towards the top. Well that didn't happen. This blog is going to take a look at leadership and building a team's core with leadership.
First, let's look at the post-Drury-Briere core. We have Drew Stafford, Thomas Vanek, Jason Pominville, Paul Gaustad, Derek Roy, and arguably Nathan Gerbe. How many of these players were captain or assistant captain of their respective junior or college club? Just one, Derek Roy, captain of the Kitchener Rangers (what were the Rangers thinking?). Not even future captain of the NHL's Buffalo Sabres Jason Pominville assumed a leadership role early in his career.
So what do I think happened? I think Regier turned the team over to a bunch of followers. The guys who were expected to lead, could not lead. Craig Rivet came in and was given the captain's "C" right away. Why? Because none of those guys could lead. (As a side note I believe that Pominville is a great teammate, a great person, and a good player...but not a good captain).
So has this caused Darcy to reconsider who he is drafting and possibly look to more leadership for the future core? I think so.
Here we go,
Mark Pysyk: Captain of the Edmonton Oil Kings
Cody Hodgson: Captain of the Brampton Battalion
Mike Weber: Captain of the Windsor Spitfires
Marcus Foligno: Captain of the Sudbury Wolves
Zemgus Girgensons: Captain of the Dubuque Fighting Saints
Johan Larsson: Captain of gold medal winning team Sweden at 2012 WJC
JT Compher: Captain of silver winning team USA U-18 WJC
Jake McCabe: Captain of gold medal winning team USA at 2013 WJC
What's the take away? Darcy Regier has, in recent drafts, drafted significantly more leadership players than in drafts past. Why? Well I don't know... but it could be that Regier wants to turn the team over (in a few years) to a group of proven leaders. Some of these leaders also have real experience in winning.
So does drafting leadership indicate that the future core of this team doesn't flop like the last one? I believe that it is a very good theory. I believe that Darcy thinks it is too. Sabres fans have reason to be excited about our crop of young talent. What I never want to see again is a group of talented players give halfa** efforts and throw away entire seasons and game 7's against the Philadelphia Flyers and Boston Bruins.
We have a talented group coming up, but more importantly, a group that leads and understands effort and work ethic.
Think about it...thanks for reading.
***Please note that I acknowledge that I may have made some minor mistakes and possibly left people out. I also believe that Pysyk, Hodgson, and Weber won championships but I don't have time to do all the research.