Tonawanda News

Columns

April 15, 2014

For Sabres, more suffering is on tap

(Continued)

Tonawanda News — Either way they will have a chance to select one of the best young players in the world. They may well have the chance to pick two or even three of them in the first round. (The New York Islanders, who are also in Tuesday's draft lottery, must give Buffalo their first round pick either this year or next; the St. Louis Blues must surrender theirs if they reach the Western Conference finals or resign Ryan Miller after this season.)

Murray was asked how fans — who, like me, will be paying more for their season tickets next year despite the last place finish — should view next season. Murray, who's already crafted an image as a straight shooter, addressed the matter with more tact than his predecessor, Darcy Regier, who infamously said fans would be willing to undergo "a little suffering" to build a winner. 

Specifically, Murray tossed out the idea of a "five year rebuild" as too long. That's refreshing. Many fans, this one included, are starting to wonder with all the kids in the system, how long we're supposed to wait to see if they work out. 

But realistically, the Sabres are as likely as any team to find themselves in exactly this position next year. They're still going to suck. They're still going to lack the discernible upgrades in talent to make them any sort of threat to make the playoffs. Basically, we're going to have to go through this all again next year.

As Murray noted in an interview on Canadian cable channel TSN after his Buffalo press conference, this team could improve considerably and still be in last place, we're that far behind the pack.

I do feel like this team is poised to turn it around eventually. There are some quality young players in the system who will become quality NHL players. Murray has proven in past jobs to be an adept identifier of talent in the draft so one has to hope all these draft picks will further stock the cupboard. Add a few veteran free agent players into the mix to provide some leadership and help show these kids the way and our Sabres could, two or three years from now, be a contender again. At least that's the plan.

I know no one wants to say it because there's some actual hope surrounding the team's direction, but in the short term suffering is still the best way to describe what it feels like watching the Buffalo Sabres play hockey.

Eric DuVall is the managing editor of the Tonawanda News. Contact him at eric.duvall@tonawanda-news.com or follow him on Twitter, @EricRDuVall.

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