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"Outside Sabres Opinion"
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Well the first two games haven't been pretty have they? As Dave Davis on LGS so succinctly titles his column, "Tallinder and Lydman's Play Leaves Something To Be Desired".

Scott Wraight in his Power Rankings on SI.com doesn't hold back on the offense: "Offense from the forwards would be a welcome addition -- just four goals so far."

Even on the Sabres.com forum, there is a thread entitled "Miller Needs Practice. Lots Of It".

Clearly, no one is escaping derision for the poor showings against the Islanders from the Buffalo faithful. The management has heard it all summer from the fans regarding their mishandling of 23 and 48 as well as their inability to open the gates of negotiation to lock up Vanek (although this really falls on Vanek's agent who refused to negotiate during the exclusive period).

So, what is there left to complain about other than the coaching? As been detailed on other threads on this boards, the Sabres are rotating their captaincy on a monthly basis (this month, Hecht). To my knowledge, no other team in the NHL has decided to solve their captain question in this way. Some have split the captaincy in the past (see Sabres of last year), some had NO captains and had several A's floating around the ice while most had one captain and one or two assistants. There is a reason for the majority view point and why the Sabres are being dis-served by Ruff's contrariness.

I can only use my own rec league hockey team as an example. We had a clear leader of the team. During intermissions, he would go through a list of things we needed to do better and offered encouragement off and on the ice to those who needed it. When he was absent from a game, the "too many cooks in the kitchen spoil the soup" maxim came into full effect. There were varying theories about what was going wrong and how to fix it. People were called out or praised in ragtag fashion and I doubt my team was better served by this management style.

Of course, Lindy is the ultimate leader and the ultimate fixer of problems on this team but the captain plays an important role in relaying those thoughts and feeling to the players on their level. As Ray Bourque said in the introduction to the book "Jonesy" "They provide chemistry and togetherness that is vital for any organization trying to reach a difficult common goal" (talking about character players like Jones but I feel this doubly applies to captains). In other words, captains can be and are the glue that keeps the team together moreso than goals and assists.

If you have a rotating captaincy, you have players that have no incentive to be that glue since their turn may be over in a month and they feel free to not step up if they feel the pressure is too great. Of course, many players want the captaincy but many do not, this must be recognized by the coaching staff and not left up to the players to decide on a "Survivior" type basis. Lindy should be held accountable for this decision if it continues to cause the Sabres to slide backwards.

Remember those Sabres teams pre-lockout? They struggled (putting it mildly) in October and November and had to put forth a Herculian effort just to make the 8th spot. Hopefully the Sabres will wake up in time to avoid this fate and I think a permanent captain will go a long way to help them do so.
Filed Under:   Buffalo Sabres  
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