What else is there to say about the Sabres early exit from the playoffs? To some of us, the writing was on the wall at the trade deadline. By acquiring Raffi Torres and nothing else, Sabres management telegraphed their belief that this team wasn’t good enough to make a run for the Cup so there was no sense mortgaging the future to bolster this year’s roster. Of course, that seems to be the Sabres approach every year. No matter how good and hot their goalie is – whether it be Hasek or Miller – management tinkers at the deadline to marginally improve a team good enough to go a couple rounds in the playoffs. But they’ve never made the big move – the statement trade – that says to everyone ‘this is the year we’ve going to push for the Cup.’
Today, Sabres management faced the media to answer questions about the team’s early playoff exit and future plans for the organization. Of course, few details were provided, except one – Lindy Ruff will remain as head coach for at least another season. That should surprise exactly no one.
And of course, many of the local television news sports stations have heaped praise on the decision to ensure continuity in the organization. Ed Kilgore at WGRZ, the Pravda of Buffalo sports franchises, has already rushed to express his support for the decision to make limited changes.
Fans, on the other hand, seem more interested in making substantial organizational changes – a reasonable stance given the Sabres haven’t won a playoff series in 3 years. Indeed, since Drury and Briere left, the organization has seemed downright hapless.
But one very good thing did come out of this season. Tyler Myers. The 19 year old proved he is a top defenseman and could be a stalwart for the team for years to come. And remember when Darcy Regier wasn’t sure whether he was going to keep Myers up or send him back to juniors? That was funny. Beyond Myers, this season revealed nothing more than the obvious – Miller is a premier goalie, the Sabres defense is better than average, and the Sabres offense is unreliable. And the Sabres prototypical player – Connolly, Roy, Pominville, etc – simply can’t be expected to help push the team deep into the playoffs because they are too small and too weak to exert their will on the opponent.
So what do you suggest the Sabres do? Fire Ruff? Fire Regier? Trade Connolly and Roy?