Monday, May 21, 2007

Don't cry for Buffalo

There are going to be plenty of odes written about the 2006-07 Buffalo Sabres in the wake of their loss on Saturday afternoon, and my guess is more than a few will speak to the now somewhat legendary tales of woe that city has had with its professional sports franchises.

But for all the legitimate tears spent on the 1991-94 Buffalo Bills, and even those Sabres teams that lost out in the finals, this year's team doesn't quite qualify as another dagger in the heart of Heartbreak City.

Not really, anyway.

Sure, the Sabres were a great team this year, one that won the President's Trophy and was a legitimate contender, but this was essentially Year 1 for Buffalo as 'the team to beat'. (And just ask Ottawa how hard wearing that moniker really is.)

Coming out of the lockout, pundits universally panned the Sabres' young line-up, and I don't recall anyone picking them to make the playoffs, let alone making a trip to Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals.

The thing is, this Sabres team essentially fell from the sky in 2005, going from last in the Northeast Division in 2003-04 to a surprise 110-point campaign, and along with that meteoric rise came somewhat unrealistic expectations. This is a team, after all, built on equal parts speed and skill, youth and inexperience, and you had to know at least a year or two of tribulations were in the cards.

In other words, that Buffalo lost in five games to a team as good as the Ottawa Senators in the conference finals is nothing the organization or its fans should hang their heads over. And while it's true that next year's edition of the Sabres won't quite look the same, not when both Daniel Briere and Chris Drury are UFAs, they will still be pretty darn good, and head into October as one of the teams to beat.

Besides, there are two reasons this club rose from the ashes of bankruptcy to become a powerhouse, and Darcy Regier and Lindy Ruff aren't going anywhere. My guess is, neither are the Buffalo Sabres.

And there's nothing heartbreaking about that.



At 4:05 a.m., May 21, 2007, Blogger dpmorri said...

the other main reason for this Sabres fan to continue to have faith for the future - Ryan Miller. He was amazing all playoffs - we wouldn't have gotten as far as we did this year without him - and as long as he stays, Buffalo will be ok

At 8:01 a.m., May 21, 2007, Blogger Black Dog said...

Good post James. Les Sabres hsve a few difficult decisions this offseason but they have so much young talent that they will be contenders again. And again. And again.

At 9:17 a.m., May 21, 2007, Blogger Djlethal01 said...

After spending the past hockey season in buffalo, the way the season ended was truly heartbreaking. The sabres were the lead-in story every night on the news, everyone and their grandmother thought they would win the cup. They were the talk of the whole western new york reigon.

At 9:55 a.m., May 21, 2007, Anonymous dave in Rocha said...

I've been saying all year that regardless of how this year ended, as long as the Sabres have Miller, Tallinder, Vanek and Drury (crossing fingers), they'll be in the playoffs at the very least for several years to come.

Also, as a Sabre fan, this year's exit isn't nearly as heartbreaking as last year's. I can't speak for everyone, obviously, but that's just my take. Last year, we came out of nowhere, destroyed the Flyers (who most Sabre fans hate more than any other team), took down the mighty Sens, and played well enough to beat the Canes until the injuries did us in. Add in the fact that we had the lead going into the 3rd period of Game 7, and it hurt even more.

This postseason, we never really hit our stride. And while all along I was hoping they could pull it off, in the back of my mind it was more a question of how far will they go before they get eliminated.

At 12:37 p.m., May 21, 2007, Blogger sager said...

James nails it -- last year seemed a lot more heartbreaking for the Sabres fans than this year.

At 1:20 p.m., May 21, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes, I really feel for the thousands of bandwagon fans who've waited all of one year to see their team win the cup. Maybe when the sabres have real leadership instead of a whiny co-captain (briere) and the biggest crybaby coach in sports they'll have more heart and be able to win an important game.


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