General manager Tim Murray made a number of fine moves to move the club forward, and overall I’m excited with the prospect of his running the organization for a while. He’s close to strictly business with his statements and understands the media’s job without worrying about how they’ll read him. It works wonders for me.
As for what he acquired in jettisoning the majority of Buffalo’s valuable veterans, it won’t play out for a while. That’s mostly because the Sabres are still in the business of getting worse on the ice but better top-to-bottom, but it’s also because Murray isn’t pressing to be adequate as soon as possible rather great as quickly as time will allow.
I’ve got plenty of opinions on who they Sabres kept and who they shipped out. I’ll get to that in a few short paragraphs but I have to admit that I’ve spent most of this dreadful season — and certainly the time around the deadline and Pat LaFontaine exodus — grinding my teeth over the prevailing fan attitudes around the hockey club.
You can partially blame the media for this if you like — and yes, I’m in that group — but the need to grade every single move as if it’s the most important thing to ever happen to the City of Buffalo makes me want to chew on my gutters. Just because Puck Daddy knows he can reap the sweet Internet hit rewards by calling the franchise a joke doesn’t mean we need to fall in line with the Hate Brigade. Pundits make fun of bad teams. It’s called piling on. Don’t let it pile up.
As for some short- and long-term thoughts on the hot topics of the past week:
1) I’m sure there’s fault on both sides, but I’m inclined to think LaFontaine is more to blame than anyone else in his departure from Buffalo. If anything, I’d rather speculate on whether to blame Terry Pegula and higher-ups for not doing their due diligence on the man or clarifying their organizational structure.
2) Michal Neuvirth wearing No. 30 wouldn’t have been a problem unless he went on to be so good at goaltender for the Buffalo Sabres that the club had to decide whether they could retire the number for the both he and Ryan Miller You know what that would mean? That the Buffalo Sabres had one of the best problems ever.
3) If the Sabres can get a top-notch playmaker or scorer in the draft and sign at least one intriguing free agent (or trade target), there’s no reason the team can’t be an interesting bad team next year. If free agency, the latter could be a guy like Paul Stastny or Ryan Callahan but I’d expect Murray has a few “culture changers” on other teams’ rosters in mind. Remember, the Senators do not have a first round pick and Murray knows what he likes in Ottawa.
4) Speaking of Nolan, I hope he stays for a while. He’s a players coach who runs his operation like a soccer manager, which means Joe Sacco and Teppo Numminen amongst others are getting plenty good at one day being able to take the reins if Nolan fails. However, I don’t want any drama because his buddy skipped town. He either wants to be in Buffalo, or he doesn’t. Not saying he’s doing this, but turning this into a soap opera would be a real anti-progress move for the locker room. Decide soon.
5) I’m now alright with St. Louis, Minnesota or Montreal winning the Cup, mostly for the quality ex-Sabres who joined those teams but also so “Can’t win a Cup with Player X” fan has to quiet down… forever. This would especially be true and awesome in the case of Miller, Vanek or Pominville, in that order.
6) It’s tremendous that the team didn’t move Tyler Myers, and probably close to that good that they kept Christian Ehrhoff. Both could be integral pieces if and when the team becomes a playoff team in two years.
7) I’m just as open to Neuvirth becoming the starting goaltender as I am Enroth, which is to say let’s take a look at what they’ve got here.
8) Zemgus Girgensons is still going to be a beast. I’m not convinced Marcus Foligno doesn’t have something quite special in him, either.
9) They should retire Dominik Hasek’s number immediately after he goes into the Sabres Hall of Fame on March 29. I don’t care if Ted Nolan coaches the team. Who knows how long he’ll stick around?
10) There seems to be a Cody Hodgson or Tyler Ennis sentiment in town. I’d rather keep Ennis and deal Hodgson by about 5x if that’s the case.
11) Because of the “EVERYTHING’S IMPORTANT” crowd, I’m glad the team got back futures instead of some 24-year-old who will be judged forever by the next two weeks of games on an subpar hockey team.