Watching this year's NHL playoffs, I can't help but feel that the Buffalo Sabres are as far away from winning the Stanley Cup as they could possibly be. I truly believe I will not live to see them win a championship. Some of the players are rumored to have complained about the coach, with Jack Eichel, their star player allegedly saying he wouldn't sign a contract extension if Dan Bylsma remained. Eichel and his agent deny that was the truth, but I think the owner heard the story and lopped off both the coach and GM.
Problem with the owner is that he lives in Florida. Terry Pegula watches the games...has contact with the team, supposedly every day. But he doesn't live in WNY. He doesn't really know what's going on here. He doesn't feel the pulse of the city and the very unhappy fan base.
Dan Bylsma won a Stanley Cup and I'm sure it wasn't the result of being a real good guy. It takes hard work to win a Stanley Cup. Talent alone won't do it. I saw some very talented players coast thru games this season and their season record is no surprise. You get what you work for and this team doesn't want to work. Oh, they had some games where they came out like gangbusters, but that's when they WANT to play. They don't do it game in and game out. They talk a good game, but don't do the things they claim they should be doing.
General manager Tim Murray was a bit of a loose cannon and I enjoyed listening to him talk because he would say what was on his mind. He doesn't seem to have a filter. That sometimes rubbed people the wrong way and apparently was his demise dealing with the owner. He was also a bit reckless in his management style, overpaying for players, giving away too many prospects and scuttling their talent base.
The players Murray did acquire haven't really performed up to expectations. Ryan O'Reilly is the highest paid Sabre in history, but 20 goals and 35 assists for 55 points is not the bang the Sabres were expecting for their buck. So here we are, six straight seasons out of the playoffs in a league where more than half of the teams in the league make the playoffs each year.
I really feel for the season ticket holders who shell out thousands of dollars each year for an inferior product. I don't know how many times over the past few years I've thought of all those fans who spend good money to see the Sabres go thru the motions during some God-awful games. What do you say to people who can only afford to see one game a year and the Sabres play as if they don't care? Or how about the kid who came to his or her very first Sabres game and they don't even score a goal? At the end of the day you have to consider whether you're getting value for your money and with this team you're getting garbage.
So whether the story about the players disliking the coach is true or not, they'll have a new coach in September. It'll be up to them to take a good hard look in the mirror and put up or shut up.