Saturday, July 2, 2011

On Realism and the Fickle Fan Base

I'm hearing a lot of "Hockey Heaven is a lie," "Terry Pegula was scared off by the Rangers, what the hell!?" and "I was going to come back to watching hockey, but now I'm not because they gave up on Richards" from fans on and in other places.

It is not the defeatist in me talking when I say this; The Sabres weren't going to get Brad Richards. I know we wanted him and that anything seemed possible. And it still is. But not every player wants to come to Buffalo. Some people want a big city. Some people really want to play with their favorite coach or want a ridiculous amount of money that is going to make it impossible to make the rest of the team function without gutting it.

And that's okay. If Richards doesn't want to be here and wants a ton more money than is realistic, Toronto, Los Angeles, Calgary and (the team I bet he will end up with) New York can have him. And if you have any concerns about us second guessing ourselves and whether he is going to be overpaid, wait until you see the contract that Tim Connolly will get signed to not long after the Richards deal is official.

But that is all okay. If we go to war with this team (lines below) we're much better than we were last season if we can bring it together at all. We should have beaten Philadelphia last year and we could have beaten Washington. Now we've greatly upgraded our defense and traded out Connolly for Ville Leino.Despite what Darcy Regier has said about being done, I don't believe it. I think it's a smoke screen so that we don't overpay for another center.

And if it's not, well, it's year one of a three year plan. I'm not settling. I'm looking at what's been done and think that we have a team that's a Cup contender (though not necessarily a Cup favorite yet, need to see what what the team looks like on the ice before I go that far). I believe, as I did during the time leading up to the Regehr trade, that defense was far and away the best place to put our money (rather than focus on an overpriced center). We have one of the top goaltenders in the league and we've made our defense better by an order of magnitude. We'll be fine.

No wonder Ryan Miller goes into hiding in the off season. After all the good stuff we said about our town in the lead up and the wooing of Robyn Regehr and Christian Ehrhoff, we've become hyper-negative. So everyone, take a breath, and quit your bitching. We've improved the team a lot, and if you think failing to overpay Brad Richards means that the team isn't doing all they said, you're barking mad.

But, if you want to get off the bandwagon now, just remember that we're not going to let you back on just because Darcy made a move, and we sure as hell don't want you at the Party in the Plaza or the eventual parade where we ask which gawky white guy is going to rap about winning the Stanley Cup.


  1. This is one of the perks of following the team from afar. I am amazed by how quickly people lose hope. I like how the corner of the sabres blog-o-sphere I'm paying attention to is more positive. I wonder if its a bit of a post-sugar/free-agency high crash. We're like five year olds the day after halloween.

  2. Hello Kel! First off, thanks for reading and commenting.

    Secondly, I feel like it's a condition of fandom. I was originally going to say it was a condition of small market sports, but I remember living in New York City when the Red Sox came back from being down 0-3 to win the ALCS. Fans would prefer to say/think something nice about their team but there is a part of the heart of a sports fan that lives and dies with that team. It's natural to over reacted to such things.

    It's just... this particular instance where I sat through the day and listened to the developing news, hearing people go from really positive to downright nasty that just bugged me. The Sabres that day (and today) are much better prepared for the Stanley Cup playoffs. Do I wish we had another piece up front, of course. But I also think that one puck, an inch inside of a post could be the difference between the Sabres collapse against the Flyers and a possible run last year. Anything can happen.

    Thanks again for reading!