by NATE FOLEY (email firstname.lastname@example.org)
(WECK 1230) — The Sabres are not Stanley Cup contenders.
This may seem harsh considering the season is only 10 games old, but the team just does not have the make up of a champion. The leadership on this squad is virtually nonexistent. Dressing room leaders like Craig Rivet, Paul Gaustad, Mike Grier and Rob Niedermayer are not good enough players and do not get enough minutes to be legitimate captains.
Out of the oft-mentioned “core” group of players, someone needs to step up and assume a more prominent leadership role. Derek Roy, Thomas Vanek, Tim Connolly and Jason Pominville should be the guys that lead the way, both on and off the ice.
They do neither.
Wearing the “C” in the NHL is a badge of honor. It actually means something. It is a privilege that should not be taken lightly. A good captain understands that he is there to lead by example. There are many good leaders in the league right now, but there are a handful of young Canadians that really stand out as prototypical players meant to wear that “C.” Sidney Crosby, Mike Richards, Ryan Getzlaf and Jonathan Toews embody everything that the leader of a team (and ultimately an organization) should be.
These players almost never take a shift off. They can play in any situation and none of them are afraid to get their proverbial “nose” dirty. For the most part, they are also consistent point producers as well. Even when they are in so called “slumps,” these guys are not invisible. When Vanek, Roy, Connolly, and Pominville are not found on the score sheet, they are usually not found anywhere else on the ice. The aforementioned captains, along with Dallas captain Brendan Morrow will always be forces to be reckoned with, game in and game out.
The skilled Sabres players lack consistency, and the tenacity needed to win in this league. A very talented youngster like Tyler Ennis is in his rookie season, and naturally will be looking up to players who have his same skill sets. Roy, Vanek and Connolly are not two-way players, not in the least. Ennis will see that it is acceptable to slack in the defensive zone, as long as he is producing offensively.
Nobody is present in that locker room that can hold anyone else accountable for their play. If the heart and mindset of a Grier could be placed in the body of Derek Roy, the Sabres would have their captain. Unfortunately, this type of transplant is impossible at the moment. Until then, fans can only hope that somebody can step up or pray that major changes will be made.
Neither seems likely at the moment.