Just so we’re clear, this is an opinion piece and it does not reflect the views of anyone else on the Die By The Blade staff. Heck, it probably doesn’t reflect the views of anyone who visits the site... but I’m here to try to change your mind.
We’re nearly 10% of the way through the NHL regular season and our Buffalo Sabres are just about where we all expected them to be; hovering around the .500 mark, loitering around the middle of the league standings, playing inconsistently on both ends of the ice, and struggling to establish their identity.
From period to period and game to game many of us are riding the rollercoaster of feelings that have us gliding from excitement to frustration to utter rage. We’re watching promising youngsters endure growing pains as well as veterans who aren’t living up to expectations.
What if I told you there was a better way? No, I’m not talking about becoming a Leafs or a Ducks fan. I’m here to recommend an option in which you can continue to support the organization without enduring the incessant heartbreak that we’ve all become so accustomed to throughout the past half-decade of horrible hockey.
A Modest Proposal
Here it goes... stop watching Sabres games; gift yourself an AHLTV subscription; give the Rochester Americans your full, undivided attention.
Whoa, whoa, whoa... stop throwing things at your screen and don’t delete your DBTB bookmarks just yet. Please, hear me out.
Pros and Cons
The Amerks are off to a 4-2 start and they’ll carry a four-game winning streak into tonight’s game at home vs the Toronto Marlies, the first meeting of the year between the North Division rivals.
Pro: You’ll get to see a lot more of “CCM/AHL Player of the Week” Victor Olofsson. Of course, that’s assuming he doesn’t get a phone call from Jason Botterill tonight. Who wouldn’t want to watch this a few times a week?
And then the th.... pic.twitter.com/4qc3CWMWsd— Rochester Americans (@AmerksHockey) October 17, 2018
Pro: Oh yeah, there are three other Swedes in Rochester to get you excited - and they’re all playing great so far. Alexander Nylander; Lawrence Pilut; Rasmus Asplund. You’re not going to see much of these guys on MSG or NBCSN and stats, gifs, and highlight videos don’t exactly give you the full picture of how well they are playing and progressing.
Pro: Remember when you all wanted Brendan Guhle to start the season with the Sabres? Well that didn’t happen, but never fear, you can catch up with him now that you’re no longer watching Marco Scandella sliding through the slot on his back. While you’re at it, keep your eye on Will Borgen who has become somewhat of a forgotten prospect with the emergence of Pilut and Dahlin. Will has had a strong start to his first full professional season.
Con: You won’t see as much of Rasmus Dahlin, but that’s ok. By next year he should be even better and then you can go back to watching Sabres games when many of these Amerks prospects finally graduate to the big league.
Pro: All the other young Sabres prospects deserve some recognition too, as they’ve all been involved positively in some way or another so far this October. C.J. Smith has been overshadowed by Olofsson, but he’s picked up right where he left off after last year’s AHL All Star performance; the points aren’t coming, but Eric Cornel is having his best season yet; Danny O’Regan is still around and he’s lucky enough to be playing with Olofsson and Asplund - eventually that’s going to work in his favor; and Justin Bailey is still out there bringing intensity to each shift.
Pro: Think of all the time you’ll reclaim now that you won’t be worrying about whether Phil Housley is going to put Johan Larsson into the lineup or not!
Con: It’ll cost you $40 if you only want to watch Amerks home or away games, or $60 if you want access to every Amerks game. Though if I’m being honest, paying less than a dollar per game to watch the full season from anywhere on the planet is a pretty incredible deal.
Pro: Pricing aside, the quality of AHLTV is dramatically better than the terrible AHL Live product that it has replaced. Feeds are in HD, there are apps for your phone, Roku, FireTV, Apple TV, and if you watch on the web you’ll have access to a great “clip” system in which you can tag in-game events and then quickly go back to review them later without having to scrub through the entire video. Also, you’ll have access to games from the entire season, meaning you can go back and watch old games at any time.
So by my calculations, that’s a final score of Pros 6 - Cons 2. I think the results speak for themselves.
Just Kidding! ... or am I?
Obviously I’m writing this with my tongue firmly planted in my cheek, but there are undoubtedly many good reasons to pay closer attention to the Amerks this season and the new AHLTV service makes it easier and better than ever for non-Rochesterians to watch the games at a very affordable rate.
We all know that it hasn’t been easy to be a Sabres fan lately and the ever-growing pile of losses just adds to our collective despondency. So maybe, for your own sanity, you could try giving them a break and devoting your minds and your hearts to the young guns to the east. If you do, I think you might find yourself happier, less stressed, and more excited about hockey in general.