For a summer that included no transactions involving superstar hockey players, fans are showing a lot of interest in how the revamped Sabres roster will perform this year; just ask the near 17,000 that showed up at HSBC Arena for the first preseason game.
There has been plenty of impressive work done by the Sabres in the exhibitions thus far, but like in most professional sports, these preseason matches are not a perfect litmus test; there are more than enough questions still unanswered about this hockey club.
Still, one man seems to be pretty confident that the team is on the right path, that man being Mike Grier. For a 35 year old player who only accounted for 10 goals last season, Grier is a great representation of the progress that the Sabres are making, and having him on the roster is bigger deal beyond his stats.
It is amazing that it can actually be said in the first place. In August 2009, he signed a one year deal with the Sabres, proving that both sides were reluctant about a long term commitment. Typically in the NHL, a one-year signing means exactly that- the player will be with that organization for a single year, and then a new organization the next. Yet, management and Grier managed to work it out so that he could return for the 2010-2011 season.
The irony is astounding, because only a few years ago Grier was the same guy that was fed up with the franchise’s direction. After the Sabres were kicked out of the Eastern Conference Finals by the Carolina Hurricanes in 2006, Grier opted to head west and join the San Jose Sharks by way of a three-year deal.
He didn’t do so in a silent manner, either. Grier likes to speak his mind, just ask Chris Simon after their infamous on-ice incident where a few ethnic and racial slurs were tossed back and forth. At the time of his departure from Buffalo, he was vocal about how he disapproved of where the team was heading management and talent-wise. His notions ended up being spot on, as the Sabres would go into decline after the 2006-2007 season and trudge through two disappointing years before seeing the playoffs again.
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