As the season musters on, full speed ahead, we have continued to watch the Buffalo Sabres fall flat on their face night after night. Each postgame is like a broken record – players scatter out of the locker room as the media rolls in. Regurgitating the same lines night after night must be very exhausting when the on-ice product rarely improves. Same goes for head coach Phil Housley, who often laments how often this team shows up unprepared for a game in which they are collecting real money for.
We often hear booing from the shrinking faithful at the KeyBank Center, and rightfully so. Some fans continue to stick out the poor on-ice product but most have given up on the franchise for the season and more. Tickets on secondary markets, like StubHub, can hardly be given away. You can often find yourself scrolling through the market on the morning of a game and grab yourself a pair of tickets for the 300 level for less than 15 dollars.
We have transitioned from high preseason hopes of a Jack Eichel-led playoff team to current-day Jordan Nolan playing 13+ minutes a game. Now, things have happened. Jack Eichel’s other ankle performed a disappearing act, the defense has been beyond suspect and what is secondary scoring?
Whatever happened to Hockey Heaven? Things have quickly evolved into Hockey Purgatory.
It goes without saying but - we’re going to mention it anyway – the Buffalo Sabres have been very, very bad at collecting points these last few years. An NHL team plays 82 games a season, which works out to a potential 164 points available each season. If we look back at the last four seasons, that works out to a potential 656 points available to the Sabres. They ended up grabbing 265 of those points. A very ugly 40.39 percent of available points were obtained. Buffalo is currently on pace to end up with 66.6 points, per The Athletic’s Dom Luszczyszyn. Groovy.
Coming off a disappointing 71 point season, expectations were dampened but cautiously optimistic. With a big serving of disappointment right out of the gate, to the tune of a 5-11-4 record in their first 20 games, unhappiness from the fan base had grown understandably fast. As the malcontent has reached a fever pitch, some fans have jumped so far off the deep end that they are even calling for the firing of Jason Botterill and Phil Housley on their favorite radio station and social media type places. In times like these, it might not hurt to take a step back and breathe. Continually hitting the reset button is not going to help the overall picture, no matter how murky things are.
Twitter has been filled recently with discontent. While that is normally always the case, Buffalo Sabres fans have been growing in size and talking about their willingness to walk away from the team. The time might be right to hit the reset button and take a step away from the Buffalo Sabres. Take a break from the Sabres and realize that hockey isn’t so bad after all.
Don’t let your friends or family tell you that you’re a bad fan because you have decided to step away. At some point, a break is necessary. We have reached the point of the season where the games are made up and the points don’t matter.
Not all is lost with hockey in Western New York. The reigning, defending NWHL Isobel Cup Champion Buffalo Beauts begin their quest towards a repeat on March 17 in Buffalo. The Rochester Americans finally appear to be coming back around, as they push toward their first AHL Calder Cup playoff berth since the 2013-14 season.
We know the National Hockey League isn’t going anywhere. The Buffalo Sabres will be here every year from at least October to April, for better or for worse. Remind yourself why you fell in love with the game of hockey, whether it is youth, college or professional hockey, and come back when you’re ready to.