Well, the 2013 season's best moments occurred in the first 60 minutes, because after that, things went down hill fast. I would not call this this a surprise - after the previous year's abundance of failure, carrying over from that awful performance in Game 7 v the Flyers, my suspicions of this year as a wash enabling them to start planning for the future came true. Although I don't think anyone saw the speed and the magnitude of change that swept over the team this year. A few comments:
-Coach: I felt it was time for Ruff to go. He's gone. Rolston is not the answer. Who is? Who knows? I would prefer someone young, with some fire, who can work with kids. Boucher?
-Moving Vanek and/or Miller: Yes. Both guys I like. I like Miller more. But if I were him, I wouldn't want to spend the waning years of my prime in the middle of a youth movement, especially for a guy prone to emotional outbursts like Miller can be. Vanek is an asset that can be moved, seems to have some interest in moving, and I won't shed a tear if he goes. He kind of reminds me of a more dynamic Andreychuk - streaky, puts up stellar #s, but when it really counts, is either injuried or invisible.
-Captain: Not sure. Ott seems like the consensus choice, but he might be a bit too inflammatory a player to wear the C, even if he acts it. I feel the same about Kaleta. Hodgson is too young/new to give that burden; Foligno could be future captain material, but not yet. I guess by default I'd go with Ehrhoff, with Ott, and Weber/Ennis/Kaleta as A's.
-Roster: I'll be happy to see Stafford go; I want to go young and hungry, he's neither. Assuming Vanek, Miller, and Staff are moved, you can add Gerbe (I love his heart, but esp after the concussion/neck injury, he's just too one-dimensional), Sulzer if you can get anything for him coming off an injury, or Pardy - I'd keep one, and I can't see keeping Leino unless his contract makes him immovable (or even if it does). Who's left? I know, not much. Depends on your returns for Miller and Van, but let's get Grigs, McNabb, Hackett, Biega, Adam and Tropp up. Armia, Larsson and Z Girgs are my guys waiting on deck for first call up.
I would love to see if Darcy can engineer a deal to get the team up in the Top 3. Using players, picks, or both to do so - without dramatically overpaying - all should be on the table. This would seem to fall into his comments about 'getting great players'. With the wealth of picks, I would rather concentrate those into 2-3 top echelon kind of players.
-"Pain": DR mentioned earlier today about there being a lot of 'pain' in the rebuilding process. Next year should be a total wash as guys really get their feet wet playing serious minutes in the big leagues. There will be turnovers, there will be missed assignments, there will be a lot of running around. The year after, if some of these acquisitions/picks pan out, progress should start to be noticeable.
-Booing: I think with a rebuild, you are going to see a lot less booing/negativity. Resignation, sure. But less booing. Partly b/c expectations will be so low, partly due to younger guys typically giving a ton of effort simply to show they belong in the big time as opposed to established vets. BFLO fans want an aggressive team that hits hard and clean all 60 mins, can generate SOME sustanined/dynamic offense, and plays smart. That shouldn't be so hard for professional players.
-Effort: Should be the cornerstone of this team. High energy, tough, hard skating players are all the most Sabre fans are looking for. They want to be able to feel that these guys care, to see it in the product on the ice. IMO, that's why fans loved Drury and Briere to such an extent, but never really warmed to Campbell or Vanek.
-Media: I could care less if Pegula never talks to the media. The BFLO News have to generate hits, so expect the same sort of inflammatory nonsense. Just work on your non-responses. That's what the media hates the most.
In short, I really want to get fired up for my Sabres again, instead of just expecting the worst. That works for the Bills, but I'm more of a hockey guy and I don't want to think about if I should pay for it when my bill for the Center Ice package comes in the mail next year. The FO should just rip off the bandage, and I think/hope they're on the right (war)path to turn this sucker around. Go Sabes!