It seems like distant memory since the announcement came that Buffalo Sabres fans were done with Darcy Regier. I am still lobbying for November 13 to be a paid holiday across Western New York. Unfortunately, the scoreboard still says that the Sabres are losing games.
I said this on my Twitter account earlier in the week. Every time Ted Nolan comes out and makes a statement about moves being made by the team, I feel that he should start the sentence with “Today, we did _____ to rectify what was done by prior management.”
While I, like several Buffalo Sabres fans, was excited about the change in leadership for the Sabres, I also knew that it was the beginning of a long process. We all know that this isn’t going to happen over night. First thing, is that Buffalo needs to get a new general manager. I actually wouldn’t be surprised to see a completely different roster in Buffalo come starting day in October 2014 after the new GM and potential new head coach are hired.
I don’t want to focus on that though. We know it’s going to take a long time to undo the disaster caused by Darcy.
What’s uplifting on my end is how the Buffalo Sabres are playing.
Now, I missed part of the Philly game due to being at work, but for the other games, there was something different about how Buffalo was playing. The team seems to be playing harder and adopting a never say die attitude. The Sabres have lost 4-1 the past few games, but have still played hard. The mistakes made, their opponents cash in on, and in turn, cause Buffalo to lose. I’ve seen better offensive opportunities, just a failure to bury those chances. The team as a whole, seems to be playing harder.
What have Buffalo fans wanted from day one? A solid effort. Remember, we were told that “suffering” would be involved. The Sabres under Rolston and more importantly, Regier, didn’t have that extra push. The team came out each night and it appeared that they were already to lose before opening puck drop for the first 20 games of the year.
Hockey can be a very mental game, as can all other sports. I think back to one of my favorite movies, “Miracle”. There’s a scene in that movie where the young USA hockey team is viewing film on the USSR team, preparing. Herb Brooks states; “Their main weapon is intimidation. They know they’re going to win, and so do their opponents.” It’s the same concept for losing games too. If you don’t feel that your team can do anything right, or that you don’t stand a chance, well of course you’re going to lose.
I think back to one of the best Sabres games I was at, Buffalo Sabres vs Leafs, March 23, 2007. Toronto had a 4-1 lead with 15 minutes left in the game. A lot of teams in that situation would have started waving the white flag and preparing for their next game. Buffalo kept playing, and in less than ten minutes, it was 5-4, Buffalo in the lead. The Sabres went on to win the game by that score. That’s believing in your team. It just goes to show the mental element of this game.
Coming back to current day, Buffalo played the first 20 games of the season with that “We’ve already lost” mindset. The fans were on board with that as well. I’ll be honest, I didn’t really think that the Sabres could win, and when they did, it was a pleasant surprise. I would look at the schedule, and assume defeat regardless of the opponent.
Since the changes that were made for Buffalo, Ted Nolan has instilled a sense of hard work and drive with the current players. That alone can make a ton of difference. It struck me in each of the Sabres games that they’ve recently lost, that regardless of what was on the scoreboard, they kept playing hard. When Buffalo was down 3-0 against Toronto last Saturday, they didn’t just lay down and die. Albeit they lost in the end, but they didn’t just die. They actually made it a 3-2 game in the third period, and continued trying to get the equalizer and win the game. Even when being down against the Blues and the Flyers, Buffalo didn’t just quit. They kept playing hard throughout the game.
In the end, that’s what I want to see. I want to see the Buffalo Sabres playing with more energy and drive. No one really expects Buffalo to make a Cup run this season. In the end, the fans just want to see the team they love play hard and stay competitive.
All I want to see, is what the Sabres are starting to do, never say die, and keep playing hard for 60 minutes. You know what? If they keep playing that way, they’re going to start surprising some other teams and getting wins.
Follow me on Twitter- @SabresBTB I live chat during games, and I’m always up for chatting about hockey. I try to respond to everyone who chats with me.
As always, thanks for reading!