We have a lot to thank the 2000s era for, from camera phones and Bluetooth to Facebook and Youtube. Buffalo Sabres fans have a lot to thank that era for, too. The ‘06-’07 powerhouse team. Ryan Miller. The return to blue and gold. The first NHL Winter Classic.
Of course, with the good comes the bad. The loss of Daniel Briere & Chris Drury. Hasek and Peca both gone. The Rigas scandal. Empire Sports Network ceasing operations.
For me, the 2000s era was perhaps the most formative of my interest in hockey. I first started watching the sport in 1996, but as I turned 10 in 2000 (I’ll let you do the math regarding my age), that era is when I continued to learn more about hockey, and really dive into more of the rules and such. I grew up with that era of the Sabres, and hockey became something more for me. It became something real, and an even bigger part of my life.
I’ll never forget the 2006 October Storm, and how one of the first things my family did after we got our power back on was.... watch the Sabres game. I’ll always remember the pit in my stomach when I heard about Briere & Drury, and the disappointment when it was announced that Michael Peca was sitting out due to a contract dispute. Of course, I also remember the heartbreak that 14-year-old Melissa felt when the lockout came; I didn’t exactly have a grasp on the concepts of labor, fair pay and contract negotiations at that time.
When I look back on that era, I can still feel the thrill, the excitement that surrounded the ‘06-’07 team and their incredible run. Memories of the 2008 Winter Classic flood into my head. I can hear Rick Jeanneret calling a Jason Pominville goal, as “the population of Pominville” went up and up.
I recall the tense uncertainty regarding the Sabres’ future in Buffalo, given the Rigas scandal, and then the sigh of relief that came with Tom Golisano that made all of us grateful we’d still have an NHL team in Buffalo.
Even despite the team’s recent struggles, and frustrations with... well, everything (from players to ownership, coaching, management, the arena itself), are we still grateful that we have an NHL team in Buffalo?
Things have certainly changed, as reflected in DBTB contributor Kerra Mazzariello’s thoughts below:
How fitting to reminisce about the 2000s this week, seeing as that was the last time I enjoyed being a dedicated Sabres fan. There are many fond memories of being a fan during that time, but perhaps my most memorable is watching the rivalry between Buffalo and the Philadelphia Flyers explode on February 22, 2007.
We all remember where we were for O.J.’s trial, 9/11, presidential elections, etc. and in addition to those big events, I also remember exactly where I was for this game - my dorm room in Fredonia, casually doing work with the game on in the background. Little did I know the direction it would head.
As soon as captain Chris Drury was hit, I knew our team was not going to let that go without retaliation. And so, it all ensued. There was nothing better than Jim Lorentz and Rick Jeanneret giving fans at home a detailed account of everything. Just kidding - Lindy Ruff screaming at Senators coach Bryan Murray while Rob Ray cautiously covered his mic made it even better.
What could make it better after that? Marty Biron and Ray Emery fighting and then Andrew Peters jumping in...that’s what. Naturally, the first thing I did during this amazing brawl was scream in my dorm hallway “Is anyone else watching this game?!?! OH MY GOD!” to which I received no reply.
Sadly, this rivalry has fizzled, along with even our rivalry with Toronto. It’s hard to have rivalries when your team isn’t competitive, but boy, do I miss it when we were.
Do yourself a favor and re-visit that epic showdown:
The Sabres will celebrate 2000s Night on Thursday, with a number of alumni from that era expected to attend, including Golisano (owner), fan-favorite Martin Biron, Briere, Brian Campbell, J.P. Dumont, Pominville and Rhett Warrener.
If you’re looking for tickets, good news: no need to pay “2020 prices” when there are seats available on Stubhub for $8 nowadays, given the team’s recent struggles.
In case you were wondering, the cheapest ticket for a Sabres game in the 2000-2001 season - if bought through the official channels - would cost you a whopping $16. That’s also the same year Stubhub was founded.