For children of the 1980's, Captain Planet and the Planeteers was a staple of our Saturday morning cartoon block. In case you've never seen it, five young people wield magical rings imbued with the power of Earth, Fire, Wind, Water, and Heart in order to help prevent the Earth's pollution by various eco-terrorists. When their powers alone are not enough, they can combine the powers of their individual rings to form Captain Planet, who inevitably beats up whatever cleverly named villain is messing up the Earth that week.
What does this have to do with the Buffalo Sabres, you ask? Before we get to that, we have to talk about Nathan Gerbe.
Gerbe has been something of a divisive player among Sabres fans. Is he the player who scored 16 goals over 64 games in 2010-2011, or is he the player who scored just 6 goals in his next 75 games? Personally, I think he's the latter, but you can make an argument (injuries) for the other side. What you can't question - and here it comes - is Gerbe's heart. The diminutive winger gives his all on every shift and nobody can question his toughness, drive, and effort.
That's all well and good, but this is the problem: anyone who watched Captain Planet knows that Heart was the lamest and most useless of all the powers. While Heart was an integral part of summoning the titular character, nobody wanted to be Ma-Ti when we played Captain Planet in the backyard because why would an 8-year old boy want to use a nerfed form of telepathy when he could shoot fireballs or cause an earthquake?
When putting together a hockey team (or a magical pollution-fighting superhero), you need many different pieces to work together in order to triumph. Heart is certainly an important component of a hockey team, or player, but right now the Sabres don't have enough Earth (defense), Fire (offense), Wind (speed & quickness), or Water (fluidity & creativity) for any amount of Heart to make a difference. Hockey teams are built around heart in Disney movies, but in the real world they're built around talent, and this team isn't showing enough talent right now for all the heart in the world to matter.
Now the question becomes what Darcy Regier, Lindy Ruff, or Terry Pegula can do about it. Is it simply a question of waiting for half the team to emerge from their opening month slumps? Or will Regier make a move to shake up the team in a big way? Perhaps Pegula will finally give in to many fan's wishes and clean house. Something has to be done one way or the other, and so to the Sabres front office I have just one thing to say:
The power is yours.