The Buffalo Sabres – A Once Proud Franchise Now the Laughingstock of the League!
The Buffalo Sabres hockey club entered the league in 1970. They won the “lottery” for the right to select Gilbert Perreault first overall. Took only 5 years for the expansion franchise to make a run to the Stanley Cup Finals.
1973 sign during game at the Aud: “This year the playoffs, next year the Stanley Cup”
They did not reach the Finals again until 1999, but the long layoff between appearances didn’t mean the team was not good. In fact, from day 1 till current, of the 31 NHL franchises they have faced off against, they have a winning record vs all except for 9 teams.
Their first 25 seasons in the NHL, they only missed the playoffs 5 times. The second half of their 50-year history, they have only made the playoffs 9 times. Currently, have missed the playoffs 10 consecutive seasons. Of course, the second half included 3 runs to the Conference Finals and a run to the Stanley Cup Finals. The 2005-06 season was OUR year. Injuries, many of them, derailed a team that was apparently destined to bring home the Cup.
Party in the Plaza during the 2005-06 playoffs
The French Connection, Danny Gare, Craig Ramsay, Mike Ramsey, Pat Lafontaine, Alexander Mogilny, Dominik Hasek, to name a few, graced their presence on the ice wearing the Sabres crest with pride. Hockey in Buffalo was always fun, and always Important.
Up until 2011, the Sabres were a decent hockey team.
Since Terry Pegula bought the franchise, his team has not made the playoffs one time (Disclaimer: I do not count 2011, he only owned the team for a cup of coffee at that point). Not only have they not made the playoffs, but they have also been at the bottom of the league 4 times of the last 8 years. This once proud franchise based in one of the best US hockey fanbases has become utterly embarrassing.
If you look in the dictionary next to Sabres, you may find such words to define this team the last 10 years – pitiful; disgraceful; awful; dysfunctional; horrible; and my favorite, pathetic!
Numerous front office changes, GM and coaching changes, and of course, player changes. Fans endured the tank. In fact, fans welcomed the tank, we embraced the tank. Fans cheered for an entire season of losing in hopes of landing the second coming of Wayne Gretzky. Although the Sabres did not win the lottery, they still ended up with an expected great player in Jack Eichel. Singularly, Jack has not disappointed. However, after 6 seasons of misery, we may have seen the last of Jack in a Sabres uniform.
Changes must come. Kevyn Adams has been named GM, and he hired Jason Karmanos as his Associate GM. Karmanos comes with a strong resume. Since he was named Associate and not Assistant, he will be Adams right hand man. Which is a positive. Adams recently named Don Granato as Head Coach, removing the interim tag. Granato showed a lot in his half of season as head coach last year. Players seemed to quickly learn his system, and certain players really flourished under his tutelage, namely Rasmus Dahlin, Casey Mittelstadt, Dylan Cozens and Tage Thompson. In fact, most players really played better under Granato’s system.
After 10 years of futility, are the Sabres finally on the verge of a turnaround? Will the ship be righted? A lot of questions will be answered in the next few weeks with the expected trades of Eichel and possibly Sam Reinhart. The return on investment HAS TO be almost perfect. Adams cannot have a Ryan O’Reilly trade debacle on his hands. With Karmanos by his side, I do not believe we have anything to fear in that regard.
The Sabres also have the #1 pick in this year’s draft. Owen Power is the expected pick, but with Adams, never know what he is thinking. Is he the best player available in Adams’ opinion? Time will tell.
As of today, July 1st, 2021, all we can do as fans is hope. Most who know me know I am the ultimate positive fan and always hopeful. But these last 10 years have taken its toll on this long-time fan. I do, however, believe in the tandem of Adams and Karmanos and the hiring of Donny “Meatballs”.
The Buffalo Sabres have hit rock bottom. Only one direction to go, right? Here’s hoping!