Thursday, April 20, 2017

Stop Living In The Past

I am writing this today instead of yesterday because I wanted to see what the Sabres would do. Now that T-Pegs has fired both Tim Murray and Dan Bylsma, I have something to talk about. Buffalo sports fans are impatient people, but that comes with a strong history of losing a lot of games in both sports. But still, if Buffalo sports fans would just try to be rational, just for a minute, they could see the glorious opportunity in front of our pro ice hockey team.

Did Jack Eichel cause Dan Bylsma to be fired? That is kind of ridiculous considering the long list of reasons Bylsma had accumulated for being fired long before Paul Hamilton's irresponsible release of "inside information." Bylsma had problems with most of the team's young core, especially Jack, Reinhart, and Kane. While it is not easy to coach Alpha Millennials, it is not impossible. Bylsma's "Stanley Cup pedigree" was an illusion, and it showed up with our hockey team.

The firing of Tim Murray goes deeper than just issues with the coach. Rochester, and the entire farm system for that matter, is in complete disarray. When it comes time to bring up young talent, the Sabres would be drawing from an AHL team that is one of the worst in the league. That is not the kind of foundation you put down for a championship NHL team. Murray squandered first round draft picks on suspect veterans such as Robin Lehner, and that played a huge role in his firing.

While I find instability frustrating, these firings were a necessity. But instead of looking at it as a negative thing, it should be seen as a positive step. There is talent on our NHL team and in the farm system, but neither Bylsma nor Murray knew how to use it properly. The new coach will be coming into a situation where there is a decent mix of veterans and young players, along with two goaltenders in the system (Cal Peterson and Linus Ullmark) who could be all-stars at the NHL level.

Murray's biggest issue was his reluctance to adjust the team based on reality. Robin Lehner was not a starting goaltender, and that was obvious early in his tenure here. Both Lehner backups, Chad Johnson and Anders Nilsson, are preferred starters over Lehner. But Murray could not let Lehner go, and I think that T-Pegs was not impressed with Murray's inability to adapt with that situation.

Now we have a situation where new blood can come into our pro hockey team and give it new life. This should be an exciting time because we really do have a group of players a new coach could work with, and a team that a new GM could build into a winner. So what do the fans want? Lindy Ruff.

Look, I like Lindy too. He is a genuine nice guy, and he was one of my favorite players. He had 16 years here to prove something, and the best he could do was Eastern Conference Champions. Lindy is also falling apart in Dallas, but that has as much to do with the Dallas management as it does Lindy. Lindy Ruff is a capable, regular season coach who could probably get us into the playoffs. But I am sick of settling for coaches who could probably get us into the playoffs and accomplish nothing more. I want to win a Stanley Cup. We deserve to win a Stanley Cup. No one who has ever coached this team short of Scotty Bowman is capable of winning us a Stanley Cup. Stop living in the past.

My guess is that most hockey fans in Buffalo will not recognize the name of the person hired to be our new coach. You might recognize the GM, but that remains to be seen. There will be new blood in Buffalo and a new chance at getting our team on track again. The single most predictable thing about this entire process is that no matter who T-Pegs brings in to try and clean up the mess at KeyBank Center, you can be sure that the Buffalo sports fans will complain bitterly about it.

George N Root III is a die hard Sabres fan who wants to win a Cup, dammit! Follow him on Twitter @georgenroot3, or send him a message at georgenroot3@gmail.com.

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