Two years ago Craig Rivet arrived in Buffalo and was given as daunting of a task as there could be for a professional hockey player; Captaining a timid, lost Sabres club that was still reeling from the loss of Daniel Briere and Chris Drury.
It didn’t help Rivet any that he spent the last couple of seasons beforehand on the back lines of the San Jose Sharks, and was years apart from his only leadership role- a stint as an alternate captain in Montreal that was filled with controversy after he criticized Habs fans.
Rivet gave it his all in Buffalo, playing his gritty style of hockey and getting into more than enough scraps to show that he wanted to stick up for his teammates. But nobody should be very surprised that his Captaincy of the Sabres hasn’t taken the team anywhere special.
At 36 years old, Rivet is likely on his way towards the end of his NHL career. For two consecutive seasons fans have watched his impact in the game diminish, between his drop in points, his sinking +/- rating, and his plummeting Time on Ice. Things have really hit rock bottom this season for Rivet with him being benched for multiple games.
“I think any time you’re not in the lineup you’re disappointed,” Rivet said. “I don’t disagree with what [Lindy Ruff]’s doing.”
That’s a clear-cut sign that the Sabres need to start pondering about appointing a new Captain. So long as he’s not injured, no leader of a hockey club should ever be in the Press Box while the rest of his team is on the ice; you’ll never see Sidney Crosby, Henrik Sedin or Nicklas Lidstrom being listed as a “Healthy Scratch.”
Thankfully, unlike a few years ago, there are a lot of potential candidates in the Sabres system to fill that role. And if a front-runner does exist, it should be Derek Roy. Roy’s by far been the team’s most consistent player since the departure of Briere and Drury, putting up 69 or more points three seasons in a row, and he looks primed to stretch that streak to four seasons.
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