Buffalo - December 16, 2014 - I hate to be “that guy”, but I’m going to do it anyway.
The Buffalo Sabres are enjoying a nice little run after starting the 2014-15 season in hilariously awful fashion, having won 10 of their last 13 games, with a shootout victory over the Ottawa Senators being the latest on Monday night.
So while the team is enjoying a nice bit of success, it pains me to do this but I have to: failing to capture one of the top two picks in the 2015 NHL Draft would be the most Buffalo thing they could possibly do.
Not following me? Let me elaborate.
Traditionally, Buffalo sports is…what’s the word? Oh, right: sad.
Buffalo sports has become a factory of sadness that only Cleveland can really compare to. Even in their glorious moments, Buffalo sports teams are known for their failures. The Bills made an unprecedented four straight Super Bowls to open the 1990s. They’ll be remembered instead for losing every last one of them. The Sabres won’t be remembered for Dominik Hasek or Gilbert Perreault, they’ll be remembered for “no goal”. Sadness follows Buffalo sports no matter where it goes.
The Bills haven’t made the playoffs in 15 years and celebrate regular season wins over good opponents like they’ve made the Super Bowl. As for the Sabres? It’s been a rebuild that the entire franchise and fan-base has signed off on given that the team has made the Stanley Cup Finals just twice in their existence. More importantly, they’ve only been real contenders once in the last several decades, a team led by Danny Briere and Chris Drury that won the President’s Trophy but couldn’t win it all. They haven’t had a legit superstar since Dominik Hasek was single-handedly carrying them to their last Finals appearance back in 1999.
Simply put, the purpose of this season was to land one of the two unquestioned superstars the 2015 NHL Draft had to offer. Connor McDavid is the next golden boy, the best prospect since Sidney Crosby. Jack Eichel, meanwhile, is the consolation prize. He’s only he freshman leading the NCAA in scoring right now and arguably the best American prospect since Mike Modano. Landing in the top two of the draft would guarantee the Sabres a legitimate offensive superstar; the first since Pat Lafontaine and the first they’ve drafted since Gilbert Perreault (or Pierre Turgeon, if you want to count him).
Instead, the Sabres have caught fire behind the incredible goaltending of the diminutive Jhonas Enroth. They’ve gotten on a roll that Buffalo hasn’t seen in years and instead of basking in it, we’re all sitting here wondering if this is going to cost them their shot at a superstar.
Then again, Buffalo sports doesn’t get the superstar. They get “solid” on their best day, “bust” on their worst. And if the Sabres keep exceeding expectations, they’ll miss out on the superstars that could change the face of the franchise.
Nothing would be more Buffalo than that.
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