With a new coach behind the bench, the Buffalo Sabres are going to be a new look team for the first time at the First Niagara Center. How are the fans going to react to this new team?
Change is something that is few and far between for the Sabres organization these days. Owners have come and go and so have the players. But the man behind the bench hasn't changed all that much. That changes on Saturday night as the fans get their first chance to see a newly coached Sabres team.
When the Sabres left the ice on Tuesday night, it was the ugliest scene that I have seen in a long time. The fans were consistently booing the team and their poor performance, the team laid an absolute egg on the ice, and the players and coaches just seemed bewildered at what happened. Fast forward five days, the team has a new coach and nothing much has changed with the product on the ice.
The last time the team had some turnover, it was the ownership that changed hands. That change was widely accepted by the fans as the former owner was viewed as someone that was more interested in the bottom line rather than winning championships. The new owner was a breath of fresh air for the team and that group made a charge into the playoffs only to be bounced in the first round.
This change doesn't have that same invigorating feeling. In the first game with Terry Pegula as the owner, the Sabres came out and defeated the Atlanta Thrashers 4-1. Ryan Miller had a 40 save performance and Tyler Myers had a goal and an assist in the win. In the first game under new coach Ron Rolston, the Sabres started strong with a Tyler Ennis goal but ultimately couldn't get the job done in a 3-1 loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs.
It's nothing against Ron Rolston that this team doesn't have that same feeling. Lindy Ruff is a tough person to replace in Buffalo. Plus, this team itself has been generally regarded as a team that is really hard to like. This core hasn't really endeared themselves to the fanbase for a while now and I would imagine that there are a bunch of folks that would be just as happy to see half the team replaced at this point. Rolston is going to do his best to have his team prepared because this is his best shot at getting a full time coaching position.
What is going to be the fan reaction to the team? Right now, the Sabres have sucked all of the joy in going to a game. The buzz of a few years ago has gone and all that is left is empathy. The fanbase supports the team, but I don't think they really care much for the actual team that is on the ice. This team could continue down this path and tank for the rest of the season or they could make a valiant charge to the playoffs.