Open Letter To Buffalo Sabres Fans
The Buffalo Sabres are on pace for another season without a postseason berth. The Sabres have gone 11 years without making the playoffs, which is the longest streak in the entire National Hockey League.
It's easy to forget just how much Sabres fans have gone through over the last 11 years. The most vivid awful memory (minus not making the playoffs this season) is last season, when the Sabres were the worst team in the league, and went through turmoil with former head coach, Ralph Krueger, who was fired last March.
The 2020-2021 season also featured former captain, Jack Eichel, missing most of the season with a neck injury, and his public displeasure with the organization, which was just exacerbated by the fact Eichel and his team wanted a different medical procedure than the Sabres and their doctors.
That's not even a fraction of what fans of this team have had to go through since 2011, which was the last time the team made the playoffs. The Sabres' last playoff win was the 2011 Eastern Conference Quarterfinal, when Tyler Ennis scored an overtime-winning goal against the Philadelphia Flyers.
Since then, Sabres fans had to endure Ville Leino, which is maybe the worst free agent signing in NHL history. Robyn Regehr didn't pan out. The missed out on Brad Richards. The 2011-2012 season was a hanging on to dear hope that the Sabres were still a contender. Then in 2013, the bubble burst.
Beloved former head coach Lindy Ruff was fired in February of that year. Former general manager Darcy Regier was fired in November of 2013, and that brought on some of the worst seasons in Sabres history.
They have finished dead last in the NHL four times since 2014, and are now enduring another complete rebuild; after drafting the likes of Sam Reinhart and Jack Eichel, both of which were traded away in 2021.
We've had to watch players like Chris Stewart, Matt D'Agostini, Cody Hodgson, Jamie McBain, Brian Flynn, and so many more players who were clearly not in long-term plans here.
Hodgson was at one point, but that blew up in the Sabres' face.
Sabres fans were under the belief that if they endured the "tanking" years in 2014 and 2015, that things would get better and in a hurry. The organization blew it and now, we have to go through yet another rebuild.
I remember when the KeyBank Center (previously called the HSBC Arena) was packed with a waiting list for season tickets.
The 2005-2007 years were magical. Even the 2008-2011 years were a lot of fun. They sure were lightyears better than what we've been going through lately.
I just wanted to say to remember those post-lockout teams in 2006 and 2007. Remember how amazing the arena felt. The fact we lived and died with every trade, roster move and regular season game those two seasons.
Danny Briere, Chris Drury, Ryan Miller, Thomas Vanek, Brian Campbell, Max Afinogenov, Jason Pominville, Toni Lydman, Henrik Tallinder, Ales Kotalik, Adam Mair and others.
The Sabres WERE more popular than the Bills those couple of years. I never thought that would happen, but the Sabres from the spring of 2006 to the spring of 2008 were absolutely more popular than the Bills.
I do think Terry and Kim Pegula have tried to do what they feel is best for a winning formula, but it just hasn't worked, and at least they have recognized it and have decided to strip down and rebuild.
The Sabres have some of the best young prospects and young NHL players in the NHL: Dylan Cozens, Jack Quinn, JJ Peterka, Ryan Johnson, Owen Power, Devon Levi, Erik Portillo, etc.
It feels like we have been stuck in a rut these last several years. The Sabres don't excite me like they used to. They're often an afterthought in any bar or restaurant that the games are playing in.
I just don't want this city and region to lose the passion for good. The past 11 years have done a good job at killing our team spirit, but when the Sabres are good again (which will happen), hopefully the arena and the city's atmosphere will at least be comparable to 2006 and 2007.