When Buffalo Sabres players stepped off the bus in Hamilton ahead of the Heritage Classic all suited up in Flint Tropics jerseys, one thing was clear: they were having fun, and it made a difference in the team’s morale.
It fits into the overall trends we’ve seen with the Sabres lately as a whole. They look like they’re starting to gel as a team, and to genuinely enjoy the competition on the ice and the camaraderie in the locker room. They know playoffs aren’t in the picture for this season, but it doesn’t mean they have to sit around and sulk in doom & gloom all the time.
For me, it felt like the tide (mood) change was evident in mid-February, when Alex Tuch crashed Tage Thompson’s postgame interview after the team’s 6-3 win over the Islanders.
It wasn’t anything groundbreaking, but it represented a few things: how the Sabres were getting loose & not taking themselves too seriously (this is a good thing, BTW), and how they were continuing to build friendships and positive energy. They were able to have fun with each other & keep things lighthearted!
Anyone who’s ever worked, well, anywhere knows the importance of morale. If you have a boss and coworkers who are doom & gloom, angry, upset, or uptight all the time, it probably doesn’t bode well for production. It definitely doesn’t bode well for the morale of those working around you, whether things are going well or not.
I think the same is true of pro sports. And yes, before anyone jumps down my throat, I realize these guys are making millions of dollars to do this. But I also know that there’s more to life than what happens on the ice, and that having fun and positivity in the locker room and off the ice is important - for players’ happiness & enjoyment, and for what happens on the ice.
It’s too easy to get caught up in the moment, in the ‘seriousness’ of it all. In the end, it’s a game. Keeping things light, staying loose and having fun can only help in the long run.
And I think that’s exactly what we’re starting to see with the Sabres here.
Watching the whole team stay out on the ice after Craig Anderson’s 300th win, seeing the smiles on their faces — you could feel the pure, unadulterated joy that was vibing around that team.
Last week’s drama with Jack Eichel - particularly, how the Sabres beat the Golden Knights & clearly left Jack a little bitter - was just another spark. Beating the Leafs twice in a span of less than two weeks doesn’t hurt, either. And of course, any team has fun with an outdoor game.
This team is having fun on & off the ice. They’re starting to find that ‘something special’ that everyone always talks about. That also makes it easier and more fun to watch them & write about them!
Times may not always be easy, but I think this Twitter user said it best: They might not be that good, but this team is so easy to root for.
They might not be that good but this team is so easy to root for— Victor Goalofsson (@Goalofsson_68) March 13, 2022