Solving The Sabres

An outsider who hasn’t gotten to watch the team that much would probably take one look at the injury list and pinpoint that as the reason for Buffalo’s struggles, but that hasn’t been it. All of the call-ups have come in and, put in great efforts, and in many cases, have looked as good or better than some of the vets on the team. Besides, doesn’t everyone remember that 05-06 Sabres team that didn’t use any excuses and just won games? So if that’s not the issue, what is the problem?

Based on their actions over several months, it looks like a decent amount of players on the team have tuned Lindy out. Tying into that point a bit, based on their insistence on repeating mistakes and their frequent laziness, there seems to be a lack of accountability within the team. Finally, you’ve got some veterans who have really underperformed and are dragging the team down. In my opinion, what you have here is a trickle-down effect. You’ve got veterans on the team who are being counted on to be team leaders and show the rest of the team how it’s done. Only problem is, the vets are doing a bad job and they’re the go-to-guys on the team. That causes the lack of accountability because when you see those guys not playing like they can, why should you care about playing to the best of your abilities? If you’ve got a lack of effort and lack of accountability on your team, chances are that those same guys aren’t really going to get the message the coach is trying to send.

What I’m proposing is to shake-up the core of this team. Move guys like Derek Roy and Drew Stafford. As the old saying goes, cut off the head and the body will die. Just look at what Philly’s doing this season. During the offseason, they got rid of their two top centers who were also heavily relied upon to be go-to-guys in Jeff Carter and Mike Richards because they were causing problems for the team. The Flyers retooled on the fly and came out a better team for it. The Sabres already have some great pieces in place with very good veteran players like Vanek, Pominville, Myers, Ehrhoff, Regehr, Sekera, and Miller along with the young up-and-comers like Ennis, Adam, Kassian, Foligno, and McNabb. I don’t think they’re that far of from being a great team in the league.

With that being said, I do agree that all head coaches have a shelf life before their message gets stale. If the Sabres were  still floundering after a retooling during the season and continued to struggle into the following year after more remodeling in the offseason, then I think you’d have to look at bringing in a new voice and vision and fire both Ruff and Regier. I’m just of the opinion that at this point, the players are the problem, not the coach. Lindy is a great coach who deserves a chance to try to win with a retooled roster.  People seem to have already forgotten the great coaching job he did last season to help get the team into the playoffs along with the other great coaching jobs he’s done over the years. Sometimes it takes awhile for great coaches like Ruff to win it all; it took Bill Cowher 13 years to win his first Super Bowl for the Steelers.  If you thought Boudreau got hired fast, wait until you see what would happen if the Sabres fired Ruff; he’d be scooped up in a day.

Hopefully, Buffalo can start to pull themselves together against Florida tomorrow night. They’ll be coming into the First Niagara Center after just shutting out Boston on the road, 2-0. I’m not necessarily looking for a win tomorrow night against a hot team like the Panthers. I’m just looking for some sign that things are going to change for the better.