Archive for the 'TERRY PEGULA WILL SAVE US!' Category

Tick Tock

Somewhere in the back of my head a stopwatch started counting down last night.

For someone as hardcore about the Sabres as I am, I think I’m a fairly patient fan. I try not to get too salty about the Sabres, and often times that requires a little bit of self-delusion. I think sports fandom without at least a little bit of self-delusion is totally weird. Irrational hope is a big part of the attraction, here. It’s the reason we care about sports at all. So, as a mostly-sane Sabres fan, I have bumbled along this season, doling out the irrational hope during the “up” stretches and trying to avoid getting dramatically emo during the “down” stretches.

If I have enjoyed a favorite willful delusion this year it has been in the area of Terry Pegula and Ted Black. I want to believe in those guys, I want to believe that they have a plan and that eventually that plan will work. I want to believe, and so I do.

I still don’t think Pegula and Black have made any obvious and horrible mistakes, but they have been undeniably cautious. In many franchises (dare I say most?) Lindy and/or Darcy would’ve been fired this season. I don’t necessarily disrespect the decision to keep both coach and GM employed through this lost season, but my willingness to blindly follow Pegula and Black now feels a bit tested. It feels like the warm fuzzies that I enjoyed just one year ago on “Pegula Day” has an expiration date.

The clock has started.

The way I see it, Darcy has ten days to save his job, and then depending on how he performs, Pegula and Black have a few months to respond accordingly. Darcy has made a lot of mistakes in the past year, but with this trade deadline he now has the opportunity to fix a few of them. He needs to trade an expiring UFA contract or two (that’s the easy part), and he also needs to get one of these forwards (Stafford, Roy, Leino) off the books for next season. If Darcy can’t (or won’t) do that, then I think the pressure is on Pegula to fire him.

In hindsight it’s very strange to me that Pegula stated a timeline so specifically for winning the Cup when he took over the Sabres. Three years is such a short amount of time, and winning the Cup is so incredibly difficult. Why put a timeline on winning the Cup?

I think Pegula made a mistake when he assumed that Sabres fans want a Cup quickly. I can only speak for myself, but as long as it happens before I die, I’m not super concerned about the timeline for the Sabres winning it all. What I really care about is the sense that the franchise is in good hands. I want to see that poor performance has consequences. I want to believe that our young players have every opportunity to improve in the Sabres system. I want to feel like the team is on the right track. Granted this has been a monumentally disastrous season, but right now, I’m not so sure about any of those things.

Frankly, if someone came out today and said, “We’re rebuilding and we don’t know how long it’s going to take,” I’d be happier with that than I ever was with the arbitrarily chosen 3 year window to win.

Make no mistake, the Sabres had some unbelievably bad luck this season. And please don’t get me wrong, I’ll love this franchise for the rest of my life. But there’s faith and then there’s willful self-delusion. I’m capable of either, but faith is so much more satisfying. A franchise built on faith is a franchise that I can watch forever.

I want to believe, I really do, but Pegula’s grace period is now officially winding down. I suspect that the next few months will determine a lot about how we view this ownership team for a long time to come.

 

The Ecstasy and the Agony

The Ecstasy

That Leafs game was some seriously good times. Leafs fans are annoying mothereffers, but the arena was undeniably  amazing on Friday. The Leafs fans added to our experience tremendously. At times (like, every time the Sabres scored) it was AWESOME to have so many Leafs fans there, and times I wanted to light myself on fire with rage, but the entire night was passionately experienced, which is more than I can say for most games at FNC these days.

In the past I’ve avoided Leafs games (because, as previously mentioned, Leafs fans are annoying mothereffers, but also because you can completely rip them off by selling them your tickets), but Friday was a real eye opener. Leafs games are high risk, high reward. If the Sabres had lost it would’ve been playoff-loss-level misery, but when they won it felt like no win could ever feel as good as that win. Sometimes it’s good to just lose your head during a game, and the Leafs game certainly provide plenty of opportunity for that. (Along those lines, about halfway through the game, while watching a drunk, moronic nearby Leafs fan stand up in a sea of Sabres fans [during a commercial break, no less] and do that infinitely retarded thing where he grabbed the logo on his jersey to “taunt” other fans, Robin suddenly blurted out, “I’m gonna to punch that guy.” And for a brief moment, I think she meant it. After the moment passed, we laughed REALLY hard about that one, because of all the people I know, Robin might be the least likely to punch someone at a sporting event. The fact that she was tempted to punch someone speaks volumes about Leafs fans and also about our level of emotional commitment to the game. We went all in on Friday, and our reward was sweet.)

Robin and I sit low in the shoot twice side, so the Leaf fan presence wasn’t that horrendous (visiting fans tend to gravitate more towards the other end), but I know that my friend Roman didn’t fair as well. He estimated that up in his section in the 300s, the ratio was 70/30, Leafs fans. Ew! Poor Roman! But down in our end, we were mostly okay. In fact, the closest guy to us in a Leafs jersey turned out to be a Sabres fan who had lost a bet. We discovered this when, to our complete confusion, he turned around to high five us after the Sabres’ second goal.

Me: (high fives a dude in a Leafs jersey) WTF, dude? (points to his Leafs jersey)
Him: (shakes his head sadly) It’s okay. I’m a Sabres fan. I lost a bet.
Me: Ouch. Does your skin burn in that thing?
Him: Yeah, it does.

There was a moment late in the third period when I remember thinking to myself, “No matter what happens with the final score, I need to remember how fun this game has been.” Thank you Hockey Gods, for not testing my resolve on that pledge.

I had so much fun on Friday that after the game ended I was tempted to make a pact with the devil: As long as the Sabres manage to beat the Leafs at FNC forever and for all eternity, I don’t care what else happens. But thank GOD the devil wasn’t taking my calls on Friday night because the VERY next day, I was whistling a different tune…

The Agony

I was playing a concert Saturday night, so I didn’t see much of the game. But I saw enough. I saw enough to say definitively that the Sabres are in deep doo-doo. If Ryan Miller is going to play like crap, and half the roster is going to be injured, and the other half of the roster is going to be Roy and Stafford… the Sabres are in serious trouble. Not, like, cute “we just need time to gel, but it’s okay because we beat the Leafs last night” trouble, but real, “OMG. This season will be lost,” trouble.

The thing is, the more I think about it, the more I agree with Ted Black. We need to be patient. It’s not that I think that if we’re patient this roster is suddenly going to be good, or that Lindy Ruff will suddenly figure out how to make Roy and Stafford stop sucking, or that everything will be better once Tyler Myers and Brad Boyes come back. I just think it’s going to take time to fix this team. The fix is way more complicated than we want to believe.

Personally, until Ted Black and Terry Pegula give me reason to feel otherwise, I trust them to make measured, intelligent changes. It probably wasn’t what I would’ve done (no one will ever accuse me of being intelligent and measured), but keeping Lindy and Darcy after the ownership change was the intelligent, measured thing to do. The problem is that right now, in this situation, there isn’t a measured, intelligent change available. A new coach wouldn’t suddenly heal the injured players, and a new GM couldn’t make new cap space appear out of thin air.

As longtime readers of this blog know, I’m not one of those, “Lindy should have a job for life,” people. I’ve called for his head before. Right now, I don’t think the problem is coaching, and even if I did, there is just NO WAY Lindy should be fired while his forward lines look like this.

As for Darcy: So far, this season is looking like a perfect storm of suck for Darcy. I’m not willing to argue that any of his off-season signings were disastrous on their own (okay, maybe Leino, but… I still want to believe in Leino, so dammit, that’s what I’ll do), but the cap situation is h-o-r-r-i-b-l-e. The Sabres have exactly zero space under the cap right now and they are in injury hell.  The lack of cap space puts Darcy in a severely weakened position when it comes to tinkering with the current roster. Even when the plan was “cross your fingers and pray everyone stays healthy,” Darcy was still walking a very dangerous line with his cap space, but now, with all these call ups, he’s in serious trouble. This is the very definition of cap mismanagement, and in my opinion, depending on how the season shakes out, it’s a fire-able offense. But again, we’ll see.

It’s annoying as HELL to admit it, but it’s pretty difficult to fairly assess the roster with this many injuries. The intelligent, measured thing to do is to wait and see. Ted is right.

It seems to me that a lot of Sabres fans reacted to Pegula by upping their expectations dramatically without much consideration for how these new expectations could be met. I upped my expectations too, but unlike in the past, I now have faith that Sabres ownership is going to keep trying. When things don’t work out, Pegula and Ted Black aren’t going to do nothing. No, the first two and a half months of the 2011/12 season have not gone spectacularly well, but, I fully believe that they’re going to keep trying. So, if Darcy and/or Lindy need to go, I think sooner rather than later they will go. I couldn’t say that about the previous ownership.

Instead of feeling angry about the roster, I feel oddly pacified this season. It never made sense to me that Pegula could waltz in and be all, “I am a billionaire, and I want a Cup! BEGIN WINNING CUPS, BUFFALO SABRES.” That would’ve been too easy.

I believe that when Pegula took over, he gave Darcy Regier just enough rope to hang himself. Whether or not Darcy’s summertime moves have doomed him is still up in the air. I like Darcy as a person, and I love it when the Sabres are successful, so I hope things turn around here, but if they don’t, I do trust that things will change.

For now, we wait.

(But if Darcy wants to get to work trading Roy and/or Stafford, that’d be fine by me.)

Terry Pegula is a Hero and a Fox

We here at The Willful Caboose have spent the morning making calls and shaking our sources in an effort to bring you up-to-the-minute information about the potential sale of the Buffalo Sabres to kazillionaire Terry Pegula.

TWC has obtained two photographs of Pegula:

Pegula likes to swim in his cash, sans-pants. He’s a mega-rich freaky-deak, which is what we like to hear.


He also looks exactly like Clive Owens, which is great news for obvious reasons.  Golisano saved the Sabres from bankruptcy, and for that we are grateful, but let’s face it, he was never much to look at.

UPDATE: I finally got a hold of Pegula!

Update II: New text from Pegula!

So, basically this is the best day EVER.

 

 


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In accordance with the Fair Use Copyright Law, The Willful Caboose uses logos and registered trademarks of the National Hockey League to convey my criticism and inform the public of the Sabres' suckitude/badassitude (whatever the case may be). Photos on The Willful Caboose are used without permission, but do not interfere with said owner's profit. If you own a specific image on this site and want it removed, please e-mail me (willfulcaboose [at] gmail [dot] com) and I will be more than happy willing to oblige. (Special thanks to The Pensblog for their help with this disclaimer.)

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