Since Trevor and Jon already gave their "season over" posts, I figured that I wouldn't bother giving my take on it. I convinced myself that it would have just been redundant, having no choice but to repeat most of the things they already said.
But since then, there has been plenty of news surrounding the Buffalo Sabres. And honestly, I still found myself not really wanting to write about them, but the more I sat and thought about it the less I could help myself.
If you're not aware of what the numbers above indicate, I'll give you a clue: The three and the five relate to how many times the Sabres have missed the playoffs, and the five and the ten explain out of how many years it took to reach those previous numbers, respectively.
So which ones look better to you? The smaller numbers or the bigger numbers? Either way you choose to look at it, both sets of numbers say the exact same thing: Every five years the Sabres only make the playoffs twice. But if you read Darcy Regier's latest comments, he's optimistic because they've actually made the playoffs twice in the last three years. Holy-splitting-fucking-hairs. So we'll just forget that in those two playoff appearances, his team was given the grand honor only eight teams per season get to share: a first round exit. [golf clap]
I guess we can look at the bright side about the last decade as we officially can't say this team's play is completely inconsistent anymore. [yawn]
One thing we can say is the what most of the Buffalo media has already taken care of: How can this team finish such a high-expectation yet disappointing season without explaining themselves in an end-of-season press conference?
Lindy Ruff had already taken care of his guys during their final practice of the season. He berated his players twice -- before and after their longest (and most pointless) workout of the season -- pointing out missteps and errors that ultimately cost them a berth into the playoffs. He singled out veterans for lack of leadership and production but applauded some of the younger players for stepping up and helping their late push.
After this information hit the Buffalo News, some fans that commented were enraged that Ruff spent so much time criticizing his own guys while not taking any time to put some of the blame upon himself.
I definitely understood where these fans were coming from but I felt differently. While I hardly think the perfect time to call out players is in a meaningless practice succeeding the game that found you eliminated from the playoffs, Ruff is still entitled to handling his players as he sees fit. Would it maybe have been a little more beneficial to take this action before the season spun completely out of control? Sometime in December, perhaps? Of course, but nonetheless Ruff was well within his rights. He doesn't answer to his players; he's their boss.
Granted, when I was thinking this at the time, I was expecting that Ruff would have to answer the tough questions from 1) his boss(es) and 2) the media -- with some of these questions taking place in the setting of a press conference.
But the answer was nay to both. I guess we all know now that it doesn't go down that way in Buffalo these days. By the Sabres organization letting Lindy Ruff and Darcy Regier cover their faces with their sport coats and run off to their limousines while dogging hordes of pocket recorders and notepads, it gave me the proof that these two men are untouchable; that they basically answer to no one.
It's a funny feeling as a fan when you know there could be a possibility of great upside if a change was made, but with every new failed season, you still retain a certain fear and somehow know in the back of your head that nothing will ever change. Well not ever, I guess; everybody dies eventually. But still, it's a slap in the face of the fans who pay money to watch this charade -- I know, I know, there are strangely still just as many R&R supporters as there are haters. I'm still working on understanding that one.
But for people like me who figure things won't change (yet still reserve that place in my brain where I hope that I might be wrong someday) feel even more disrespected [enraged] when that fucktard Ted Black rushes out to WGR three days after the season ends so he can announce his unchanged faith in Ruff and Regier.
I mean, couldn't you at least wait a month and fool us into thinking that you looked long and hard for their replacements but couldn't find any suitable prospects? Believe me, I probably wouldn't have bought that either, but it would still beat listening to Black's pompous/cunty -- I'm smarter and better than everyone -- explanation behind announcing the inevitable so quickly.
It leaves me little hope that there will be any success in the near future. I almost want to go out on a limb and say this team won't win anything substantial (even a division title) until they get yet another owner.
Remember, Pegula once said that his daughter would quit playing tennis if she were under the same scrutiny as the Buffalo Sabres are at times. Obviously this belief has trickled down on how he treats his coaching staff, management, and players altogether. And Ruff and Regier's names might as well be Jessie and Kellie, because they now have a boss that is just as comfortable pampering them as if they were his own daughters. This belief has undoubtedly been reflected onto everyone from the top down. And I don't know about anyone else, but common sense would say that this very belief will hold the Sabres back from ever reaching the highest level in one of the most intense professional sports.
So it's a good thing that tennis and hockey don't have too much in common. Because if Pegula really wants to deliver on his initial promise, eventually he'll most likely be forced into changing his outlook on criticism first. And only time will uncover if he'll actually ever be open to that idea.
But currently at least, it doesn't appear to be the end of the world to some fans, but one day even the most loyal Ruff, Regier, Black, and/or Pegula supporters will find themselves turning on one, two or all of them. Patience only lasts so long, and I don't know many people patient enough to wait through another decade of only making the playoffs 40% of the time.
And if your mind works anything like mine does; where a first round exit isn't even noteworthy of making it, you can go ahead and lower that number to 20%.