With the NHL Draft Lottery just a few days away, the anticipation is building for the next “once in a generation” player to be taken number one overall in this year’s NHL draft. The Sabres are sitting pretty with the best odds to win the lottery and likely take Connor McDavid. Although last season the Sabres finished 30th and didn’t get the number one pick but still ended up with a good player in Sam Reinhart.
When looking at this season for the Sabres, everyone has been embracing the tank, rooting for this team to lose. I mean this is the first season I haven’t been to at least one game in the last 6 years. Why waste the money? In a year like this you only go to see the players you like and half of them have been hurt because of how bad the team is. But all of that is worth it come April 18th!
Now that the Sabres are guaranteed a franchise savior (and dear god do we need one), this is such a unique and special time in the city’s sports history that there is a chance to have the football and hockey teams share some characteristics that can finally define this city. For those of us who grew up in/near the city of Buffalo, we know what it means to be “Buffalo”. We know hard work, we know what passion is, we know dedication, we know heart break, and we know loyalty. But when you say Buffalo in other parts of the country what comes to mind? We’re losers, the city sucks. Hell, a schmuck hockey blogger once said, “Buffalo and Edmonton don’t deserve to have another hockey prodigy. Sabres fans had Gilbert Perreault and were treated to the French Connection.” Yeah, boy did we have our fill of that. The 70’s were a magical time. I’m a guy who was born in the mid 80’s so I totally relate. (he said sarcastically) I mean using that logic did the Cowboys of the 90’s deserve their dynasty? How about the 49ers of the 80’s, the Steelers of the 70’s? Hell if it wasn’t for Hershel Walker those 90’s Cowboys wouldn’t have had the pieces to become such a dynasty.
My point is, why doesn’t Buffalo deserve a hockey prodigy? If you ask any Buffalo sports fan we’re sick and tired of being the punch line to some joke. Buffalo is comparably considered the Atlantis of modern day sports franchises. Buffalo is a once proud city that doesn’t exist anymore. There are people that say we cling to the 4 Superbowls, well the Steelers cling to “The Steel Curtain”, the Cowboys are still calling themselves “America’s Team”, so you’re god dam right we’re proud of those Superbowls. If it wasn’t for the year 1999 Buffalo may be viewed different through other people’s eyes. Music City Miracle and Foot in the crease? I mean, come on! If any city in the world deserves a once in a generation player for its franchise, it’s Buffalo.
To me the Bills and Sabres are now looking somewhat similar. The Pegula’s own both franchises. Tim Murray and Doug Whaley have a zero given attitude. Rex Ryan is, well, Rex Ryan. If the Sabres hire a coach that is well respected around the league and has players that like playing for him then major pro sports in Buffalo will finally have teams that exhibit all those “Buffalo” characteristics that define championship teams. Boston is known for doing it the “Boston way” then pissing and moaning when they lose. But that’s Boston! You know what you get with them. Philadelphia has a hostile fan base, they booed Santa. But the Flyers always have that Broad Street Bully mentality. The Yankees are championship or bust every season, and god knows how often we’ve heard ESPN swoon over “the Patriot way”.
The first domino fell for the Bills when Rex Ryan was hired, and the first domino falls for the Sabres on April 18th, get that franchise player to build your hockey team around. Next is getting that coach to bring it all together. Third is to blend the talent on this roster into a contender. I mean Eichel/McDavid, Ennis, (Evander) Kane, Girgensons, Moulson, and Reinhart just to name a few is a nice foundation to start building the hockey team on. The Bills have already built up the defense with one of the best defensive lines in the league. Add LeSean McCoy into an offense that has a young Sammy Watkins, Robert Woods, a gritty Fred Jackson, a legit tight end threat in Charles Clay, and sprinkle in Percy Harvin, the Bills have the toughness, determination, and the flash to be an exciting team with the Sabres maybe 2-3 years behind.
Finally the city of Buffalo has an identity with the Pegula’s being the face of it. One Buffalo means more than just one family owning two sports franchises. Now there is One vision and One goal…and April 18th we keep looking towards the future but start living in the present.