It sure looks bleak in Buffalo as far as the Sabres are concerned. They have lost five of their last six games, they are 3-6-1 in their last 10, they are tied with the Washington Capitals for last place in the Eastern Conference and they have scored only three goals in their last four games. This looks like a team that is ready to go into the tank and will fight to stay out of the basement all season but it's not over yet. It will be interesting to see how this team handles adversity. Will they be the 06-07 Flyers or will they be the 06-07 Senators?
Both the Flyers and the Senators had poor starts last season but the way it was handled was markedly different. The Flyers decided to blow things up, they fired Ken Hitchcock and Bobby Clarke resigned. The Ottawa Senators went a different route with owner Eugene Melnyk holding a conference call to offer support for his coach and general manager.
Presser notes: Melnyk says that he’s "150% supportive" of Bryan Murray and John Muckler, and he "wanted to clear the air" to let Sens fans know that he, the Sens’ fans, the team, and coaches are "in it together," and the team will re-focus and will turn things around--it’s early, he says, and he feels that in six months, the Sens will "turn things around" on the ice.
Melnyk offered support for his management and coaches and he was rewarded for it by his team. The Ottawa Senators battled through adversity for the first time in years and they also went on the the Stanley Cup Finals before being beaten by the Anaheim Ducks. Melnyk seems like a genius now.
It wasn't only the coach and management that were being criticized the players were being criticized as well. Many fans questioned captain Daniel Alfredsson and suggested that he should be traded. A poor start fresh off the playoff loss to Buffalo a year earlier was enough for the fans to want a fresh start. Alfredsson had other ideas.
"All I can say is I want to be here," Alfredsson told the Sun moments after his contributions to a strong, 4-1 victory over the Buffalo Sabres at Scotiabank Place.
"Everybody has a right to their opinion, and he's a well known figure on TV, but I'm not going to take anything from what he says.
"I definitely don't want to be traded."
This is not unlike our situation here this year with fans clamoring for the trade of Max Afinogenov and Thomas Vanek because of their slow start. Both players make some bad decisions that cost the team but they are important players for this team. It seems that the "Trade Max" cries have been going on for years now but Darcy Regier never makes that move. Is it just coincidence that the Sabres and Sens have switched roles again this year after doing it in last years playoffs? Let's hope this game on Thursday is the game that will turn around the Sabres season just like the game last year on November 17 turned around the Senators season.