Tonawanda News

Columns

March 2, 2014

DUVALL: Miller's departure marks a Sabres low point

Tonawanda News — It’s hard to know what to say about the Buffalo Sabres anymore. 

Unfortunately for me, I get paid to figure that out, so here goes nothing.

They’re in last place, the worst team in professional hockey. They traded away their franchise goaltender Ryan Miller and captain Steve Ott an hour before what everyone figured would be Miller’s swan song at First Niagara Center.

Instead we got a video montage in the third period that brought fans to their feet and not just a few tears to their eyes.

Friday was a surreal night to go to a game. The outcome, an unexpected 4-2 victory over the much more talented San Jose Sharks, was an afterthought.

Friday night felt a little like the final meeting with a divorce lawyer to sign the papers. 

Friday night felt a little like attending a wake for someone who isn’t dead.

The truth is, trading Miller had to happen. At 34, more of his pro hockey career is behind him than in front. If he’s going to win a Stanley Cup it won’t happen here. He deserved to be traded to a contender. Fans can’t begrudge him a chance to make his mark on the sport. Most I’ve talked to don’t.

And after that stunning but hardly surprising news Friday, another lightning bolt: Recently hired president of hockey operations, Pat LaFontaine, has resigned.

It’s difficult to know what prompted his decision. The timing, just a few days short of the trade deadline with other moves almost certain to be made, leaves one to wonder whether Patty agreed with the organization’s decision to part ways with Miller rather than try to resign him after this season, when he would have his pick of teams any one of which would be a more attractive option than last-place Buffalo.

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