Acceptance of Mediocrity Starts at the Top

Rick Stewart

The Sabres need to understand that success comes to those who make tough decisions. There will someday be a time where the team needs to mix things up and make a change.

Professional sports are a lot about overcoming adversity. The struggle is what pushes people to be the best they can be, to live up to their potential. As much as we'd like to think that professional athletes will always be 100% motivated, sometimes you have you remember that the players are human. So, for the most part, teams try to create an atmosphere that fosters excellence, that makes their players believe that second best just isn't good enough.

That team is not the Buffalo Sabres.

When Darcy Regier told the Buffalo News earlier this week that there would be no change at coach, fans saw another example of the Sabres failing to set the bar high. It is saying one thing and one thing only to fans, that a lack of success isn't enough to really rock the boat.

Nothing that has happened since 1997 has apparently been enough to do that, even in a day and age where teams change coaches all the time. Sometimes, those new coaches even win. When a coaching change happens, it can serve as a wake-up call for the players. Something isn't right, and its time to change. Even the threat of a coaching change can help a team, causing a team to have added motivation to play hard for their coach.

But no, for some reason Lindy Ruff is bulletproof to Darcy Regier and the Sabres organization. No matter how poorly the team plays in their eyes there is no one else who could do better. What kind of tone does that set in the locker room? Should that make players think that its an honor to don the Sabres uniform, that it comes with entitlement and a sense of victory? No, it entices feelings of staleness, or fear to change. So much for, "the sole reason of our existence is to win a Stanley Cup."

When it comes down to it, there needs to be some accountability in an organization. This applies to both Regier and Ruff, and the organization as a whole. If no one ever pays for mistakes, then the team quickly turns into a joke. Sadly, that might be the case when it comes to the Sabres reputation around the league.

It's not like either has done a horrendous job either. The Sabres have for the most part been decent. Not great, but not terrible. Lindy has led teams to the Eastern Conference Finals and the Stanley Cup. Regier has made some excellent trades and done a fine job drafting and developing players. However, there is a lack of progression. Change is healthy, and it seems that the Sabres never do much of it. Sure, players move. But most of the core players stay. Regier has shown time and time again that he overvalues his own players and then stands pat as players get overpaid and under produce. Thus, the staleness spreads to the players. Now everyone feels they are entitled to their jobs, and motivation goes down.

So, Mr. Pegula, I challenge you to show us the determination this team has for winning a Stanley Cup. This may seem like odd timing with the victory last night, but nevertheless the season still hasn't gone as planned so far. It may not exactly be time to abandon ship just yet, they are still in position to easily be in the early playoff race. Just please, don't have your GM say that the coach is 100% safe when there are only two teams in the league with fewer points than yours.

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