Looking back on 2015, it was not only a crazy, memorable year for the Buffalo Sabres, but it also marked the end of an era, and the beginning of something new and exciting. In somewhat chronological order, let's take a look back on some of the coolest, craziest, and most memorable Sabres moments from 2015.
The song of 2015 - ZEMGUS GIRGENSONS - and the Latvian All-Star vote
2015 got off to a heck of a start thanks to this red-hot track by Olas, which dropped on January 7. It would help draw national attention to Girgensons, who would be voted in to the All-Star game by a rabid contingent of Latvian ballot-stuffers. Relive the magic one more time below.
Tim Murray's masterstroke tanking trade
After years of trading away star players, the Sabres didn't have as many bullets in the trade gun as they have in deadlines past, but GM Tim Murray still managed to swing a deal that made the team significantly worse this year, but also significantly better next year, sending Tyler Myers and Drew Stafford (with some pieces) to Winnipeg for Zach Bogosian and the star winger the team would so need...who just happened to be injured for the rest of the season.
It was a brilliant move to both ensure 30th and jump-start the team next season, and showed Buffalo that Murray wasn't afraid to pull the trigger on a big trade if he thought it was the right move.
The tank debate reaches its final form against Arizona
The year began with the Sabres on a not-very-subtle organizational quest for 30th place. Much has been written and argued over the merits of tanking, but by the end of March, it was 30th place or bust for 99% of all Sabres fans. A critical game against Arizona was the culmination of the tank, as loud cheers went up in the First Niagara Center when the Coyotes scored an overtime goal to win the game and earn one more point than Buffalo, keeping Arizona in 29th place.
After the game, much more was written and argued, and even some of the Sabres players called out the hoime crowd. Mike Weber after the game said, "I've always spoken extremely high of our fans. I don't even know if disappointed is the word. They score that first one and our fans are cheering. Late penalty, they cheer. They cheer when they score to win the game. I don't even know what to say."
It certainly wasn't the proudest moment to be a Sabres fan, but better times would lie ahead.
Toews and the broken stick help clinch 30th
In the final run to clinching 30th place, some of the most memorable moments came from the craziest of circumstances. On Friday and Saturday, April 3 and 4, Jonathan Toews and a fortuitously-placed broken stick made it seem like the hockey gods themselves wanted the Sabres to clinch last place.
Down a goal with two minutes left, Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews scored twice in the span of a minute to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat, denying the Sabres even a critical loser point.
The next night against the Islanders, a perfectly positioned broken stick would fling a Zach Bogosian pass straight to Brock Nelson for what can only be described as a goal of destiny.
Special shout out to that broken stick, which was later voted MVP by fans on Twitter.
A new coach for a new era
In May, the Sabres announced they had hired Dan Bylsma to be their head coach for the upcoming season. Bylsma had previously led a young Penguins team to a Stanley Cup, and despite some questionable Gionta usage, early reviews for DB are mostly positive.
The Sabres lose the draft, Tim Murray gets salty
For Tim Murray, 30th place was always the goal, not because it was McDavid or bust, but because 30th place guaranteed at least one of two generational talents. However, when the golden card came up Edmonton, Sabres fans everywhere felt at least a small twinge of, "Really?"
Their GM felt more than a twinge of regret when he publicly said "I'm disappointed for our fans" regarding losing out on McDavid. Murray would later backpedal, but in the heat of the moment he said what many Sabres fans were thinking, and caught some flak for it.
Buffalo drafts Eichel, trades for O'Reilly, McGinn, and Lehner on the same day
In a few whirlwind, franchise-altering hours, Tim Murray managed to draft a future superstar, trade for a current star, add depth, and find the goalie he thinks can lead the team into the future, all for two draft picks and a three prospects. Feel sorry for us poor scribes who had to keep up with GMTM's wheeling and dealing, but feel great for Sabres fans, who just saw the talent level on their team increase exponentially in just one day.
Jack Eichel's first goal
The season opener. The kid's debut. The snipe. The new goal song. The roar of the crowd. I've already forgotten that the Sabres lost their opening game, but I'll remember this moment for many years to come.
The World Juniors are coming back to Buffalo
One of Terry Pegula's mantras when he took over the Sabres was to turn Buffalo into Hockey Heaven, and when USA Hockey announced that Buffalo would host the World Juniors for a second time in 2018, heaven just got a little closer.
Ristolainen's hat trick
Ever since being drafted eighth overall in 2013, the question surrounding Rasmus Ristolainen was, "Will he ever be a stud #1 defenseman?" The more games we watch this season, the more the answer seems like a yes, and this hat trick (all in the third period) is a nice feather in the 21-year old's cap. Maybe in a future yearly recap, we'll be highlighting a Norris trophy? Norristolainen indeed.
Those were our most memorable Sabres moments of 2015. Tell us which one was your favorite in the comments, or let us know what we forgot. And most importantly, thanks to all of you for a great 2015, and have a safe and happy new year.