No Guarantees

Let us examine the case of the 2007-2008 Buffalo Sabres:

Sabres fans, as you may or may not recall, we went through a bit of a rough patch beginning with encountering the Ottawa Senators in the ECF last spring. The rough patch continued on through July 1st, when (just to remind you) both of our previously beloved captains bolted town amidst cries of managerial incompetence from nearly every corner of the hockey media. Then, the season was up and down (mostly down), and Brian “Soupy” Campbell was traded when it became clear he could not be signed as a Sabre. Again, Buffalo lost another valuable piece of the team that had come so close to the Stanley Cup. Finally, in the season’s dying days, the Sabres were mathematically eliminated from the playoffs, ending an all-around depressing year.

Now, let us examine the case of the 2007-2008 Ottawa Senators:

After losing in the Stanley Cup Finals to the Ducks, the Senators management calmly began signing their marquee players to contract extensions. One by one, Spezza, Emery, Fisher, and finally, Dany Heatley were inked to long term deals ensuring that the team would be an EC powerhouse for years to come. The season started out in spectacular fashion, with the Sens playing a record breaking 432-2-1 in their first 20 games. (Okay, I’m too lazy to look up their actual record, but I assure you, it was good.) Then, inexplicably, it all went to hell. For awhile they look merely mortal, but by December they were looking terrible. In the end, only their incredible start saved them from missing the playoffs altogether. They were eventually swept by the Penguins in round one of the 2008 playoffs.


The Sens are essentially the same team now as they were one year ago, and HOLY COW is that scene a disaster. The Sabres essentially lost all of their lockerroom leadership from last season, and the scene is, well, it’s not quite a disaster, but it’s definitely not ideal. There’s plenty of room for improvement, let’s put it that way.  I would argue that the Sabres season was preferable to the Sens season from a fans perspective, but that’s just a matter of opinion.  The fact is, these two teams ended up in basically the same place at the end of the year: zero playoff wins.

I’m not saying that what happened to the Senators would have happened to the Sabres had we locked up all the free agents, I’m just saying it could have happened. It’s worth noting.

There are no guarantees. Ever. That’s all I’m saying.

22 Responses to “No Guarantees”

  1. 1 Schnookie April 17, 2008 at 12:26 am

    Katebits, I think this is a fantastically astute observation! You are a hockey analysis GENIUS! I don’t suppose there will be a lot of people in the “establishment” making this direct comparison, but that’s just because they’re not as AWESOME as you are. (Was that effusive enough? :P)

    Seriously, though, this is a REALLY good point. And it’s something to be remembered, both by fans celebrating their favorite players signing long-term deals and by fans ruing the fact that their favorite players signed long-term deals with the wrong team.

  2. 2 Katebits April 17, 2008 at 12:32 am

    (Was that effusive enough? :P)

    Yes! (I’ll confess to everyone else that the observation about the fate of the Sens vs. the Sabres first materialized in an email. When I decided to turn it into a post, I demanded that the email recipients pretend they had never heard any of this previously, and that they come here once the post was published and tell me I’m brilliant. So, Schnookie gets brownie points for a job well done!)

  3. 3 Schnookie April 17, 2008 at 12:49 am

    Thanks for the brownie points, Katebits, but they’re not necessary — I really do think this is an awesome point! :D

  4. 4 Destiny April 17, 2008 at 1:01 am

    This is a really great point. It actually makes me feel better. :) Thanks!

  5. 5 LizzieB April 17, 2008 at 1:01 am

    Seems like the taste for Bolivian marching powder may have hamstrung the Sens a bit. Rumor has it there are a handful of guys with a bit of a problem. At least the Sabres have only got one who’s notorious for slipping off to the bathroom on a regular basis.

  6. 6 Katebits April 17, 2008 at 1:07 am

    That is a tantalizing bit of info to dangle, LizzieB, but PLEASE go no further! I try to keep this place gossip free. I barely like to acknowledge these guys exist off the ice, much less GO TO THE BATHROOM FOR ANY REASON. (The Senators are of course, fair game. Total crackheads. Every last one. :P)

  7. 7 Katebits April 17, 2008 at 1:11 am

    Destiny, I’m glad it made you feel better! It kind of made me feel better too. I mean, imagine if we had signed SOupy, Briere, and Drury, and then had the season that the Senators had. Yikes!

  8. 8 Heather B. April 17, 2008 at 6:14 am

    Kate, a very good point. I don’t know if the Sens’ problems are on the ice or off the ice but either way they have a bunch of guys locked long-term and need to either make some moves or pray really, really hard that it all go away.

  9. 9 Jonathan April 17, 2008 at 6:25 am

    I think the Sens problem was they have terrible goaltending.

    Kate did you know about Crunchy’s blog?

  10. 10 Meg April 17, 2008 at 7:36 am

    I think the Sens problem was they have terrible goaltending.

    Given the number of shots they were allowing and the number of goals they weren’t scoring I think they have more problems than that. Which is what makes it so delicious. :)

  11. 11 Amy April 17, 2008 at 8:13 am

    I’m not saying that what happened to the Senators would have happened to the Sabres had we locked up all the free agents, I’m just saying it could have happened.

    Good observation.

    I think Ottawa was undone by believing their own press, in addition to the other hot messes they have on the roster.

  12. 12 CrotchetyOriginalSam April 17, 2008 at 8:46 am

    In baseball terms, this whole signing as many free agents as possible and sucking anyway thing is traditionally referred to as “Being The New York Mets.”

  13. 13 Antoine April 17, 2008 at 9:00 am

    All went wrong for the Sens when Emery came back in action.

  14. 14 Glenn April 17, 2008 at 9:05 am

    This post helped to heal my hockey wounds from last summer….
    Free at last…. (wipes a tear)

  15. 15 Glenn April 17, 2008 at 9:23 am

    OMFG…..Have you SEEN this???? This is so deliciously wrong…. enjoy!

  16. 16 Pookie April 17, 2008 at 9:36 am

    Kate, this was the most amazing blog post to ever see the light of day! Brownie points, please!

    Really, though, this is a great point and I’m glad you brought it up.

    “Being The New York Mets.”

    Also a really astute point, Sam! :D

  17. 17 Katebits April 17, 2008 at 10:22 am

    Here are some browines for you, Pookie.

    Isn’t speculating on what went wrong with the Senators fun? :D

  18. 18 Katie April 17, 2008 at 1:41 pm

    Great observations, Katebits!! My dad and I were just talking about this while watching the game last night – maybe it’s not such a bad thing we’re more invested in young guys like Roy-Z and Vanek. At least we know that we have a chance to grow, mature, and get better. Ottawa’s top liners aren’t exactly kiddies anymore…

    “The fact is, these two teams ended up in basically the same place at the end of the year: zero playoff wins.”

    All in all, this made me feel a lot better about this season from a
    comparison perspective. I almost feel bad for Sens fans – at least we knew our boys were going to face some struggles. They figured they would be the beasts of the East, just to see their team not only collapse but also produce that hideous playoff intro.

  19. 19 Shari April 17, 2008 at 2:09 pm

    OMFG…..Have you SEEN this???? This is so deliciously wrong…. enjoy!

    That’s it! Next year, we unleash the Sabretooth tigers!

  20. 20 KevinP April 17, 2008 at 3:18 pm

    Kate –

    Not to be cliche’, but death and taxes would like a word with you.

  21. 21 Katebits April 17, 2008 at 3:46 pm

    Whatevs. Everyone makes such a big deal about taxes. Screw ‘em! That’s what I say! (Death, on the other hand, I have a little bit of respect for.) :P

  22. 22 Patty (in Dallas) April 18, 2008 at 12:25 am

    You really do make a good point, Kate. Now the Sens are going to have to try again with basically the same team. There’s no blowing it up and starting over.

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