Recently there has been a lot of momentum building around hockey due to the fantastic playoffs. When Matthew Stewart and I debated the whether Buffalo was a hockey or football town, it really started to make me wonder why I thought Buffalo was clearly a football town. Then I started to read Bill Simmons’ site Grantland (don’t judge), and his article about people labeling him a NHL front runner. It all became so obvious to me why football has grown in ridiculous fashion while hockey has stayed where they are.
1. The new NBC/Versus deal. Don’t get me wrong: I think this is a great deal for the NHL and if NBC actually plays this right could, it really help build the brand. What I thought was a problem was a lot of fan’s reaction to the notion that ESPN would merely offer one game a week or whatever the case may be. The reaction of anger and spite towards ESPN was comical – that the NHL didn’t NEED ESPN. Sure they didn’t need ESPN, but wouldn’t it be a lot easier to build awareness for the sport if it were involved, if it were on Sportscenter a little more often? Wouldn’t it be a little better if they nudged a ridiculous Sidney Crosby goal to #1 on Top 10 plays as opposed to some run-of-the-mill fast break dunk? Continue reading
I keep hearing Bills fans scream that the quarterback is the most critical component of a successful team and I could not agree more. However, for the time being there are two thoughts I have on QBs and the Bills. Ryan Fitzpatrick is good enough to get this team to a winning record and playoff contention. Two that this team does need to upgrade the QB position to compete for a Super Bowl or have the ability to win games when they don’t play their best.
All of that being said, I don’t think it is critical for this team to select a QB this year for the sake of saying they have addressed the position. I would personally be just as happy if not more so for following the New York Jets model several years when they took Fergurson and Nick Mangold, then the following year made a point to trade up for Mark Sanchez. I would like to see the Bills address defense with the first pick and a player that can help them be more competitive this year with their second. Then in 2012 chances are they’ll still have a top 15 pick and could move up into the top 10 for a quarterback. Is this perfect? Nothing is in the draft and if they end up taking a quarterback, I’m ok with that too. But I hope I really don’t hear too much about how they had to address the quarterback position, because there are more than enough needs to be addressed over the next couple seasons.
Regardless of how the next several hours and days pan out. Let’s remember that this team has multiple holes and that one draft isn’t going to fix it all. It’s going to come down to string several good drafts together and hopefully last years’ continues its development and can be supplemented by this group, regardless of positions.
Filed under Buffalo, Sabres
What a great time of year to be a Sabres fan and in particular what a great time of THIS year to be a Sabres fan. A couple weeks ago WGR’s Bulldog had a good comparison of the feel Sabres’ fans lived with in the ’06 and ’07 playoffs. ’06 was a fresh start for Buffalo fans with little to no expectations so with every win it seemed to gain steam and build this notion that the Sabres could and WOULD continue to win. Suffice to say, we all know what happened, but in my lifetime what a time to be a Sabres fan and it goes along with winning to say that was a great time. However, in ’07 the Sabres reached the same level of the playoffs (conference finals), but had a much, much different feel to it. The feeling started against the Islanders and ballooned against the Rangers for me. If not for the Drury dramatics in Game 5 who would know how that played out. That whole ’07 playoff run felt like a train on a path for disaster. Maybe it’s the Buffalo fan in my but the pit of my stomach was nervousness and excitement in ’06 and fear and anxiety in ’07. It didn’t have the right feel.
That brings us to last year compared to this year. I realize that the Sabres have yet to clinch a playoff spot and I’m going to tailor my comments to how this year feels compared to last. Last year was the first time that this group of young players (Vanek, Roy, etc.) led a run of their own and ran through the regular season in extremely respectable fashion. Everyone questioned their wherewithal heading into the playoffs though. Could Vanek be the star player needed to carry the team? How would Myers hold up in his first playoffs? Could Miller build off his Olympic performance to take this team on a run or would he run out of gas? On and on the questions of whether or not this team would fail surfaced. This year, the main question seems to be: Why not?
I’m not sitting here saying the Sabres should be expected to make a deep Stanley Cup playoff run, but why couldn’t they? It’s a rhetorical question because we could dissect each and every aspect of their game and use it as a reason as to why they won’t. The fact of the matter is that this team has the feel of the ’06 run. No, I’m not comparing the teams even the slightest. What I am saying is that as a fan this is by far and away the most I have enjoyed watching the Sabres since that team. Why? Expectations.
Lately, I have started to believe more and more that life is all about having and setting realistic expectations. This goes out the window with my sports alter ego though. As a sports fan you are destined to believe ‘this is our year’. That’s why every training camp the Bills are going to turn the corner and make the playoffs or that sitting here right now I think Syracuse is going to win the 2012 National Championship or come July 1st after a couple of Sabres moves they’ll become a dynasty. As sports fans we don’t like to temper our enthusiasm. We don’t like the Jerry Sullivans and Bucky Gleasons and Sal Maioranas of the world poo-pooing every positive aspect a fan can take in a team’s performance. However, this year at Christmas we all had sufficient reason to sacrifice the season with Roy’s injury and the team’s place in the standings. So even though they’ve played great since the start of 2011 and Terry Pegula’s entrance as the new team owner has revitalized the fan base all while being on the cusp of the playoffs is great, it still all feels surreal. This is why sports are great and why being a fan of sports is even better.
Regardless of how the rest of the 2010-2011 season plays out, since the trade deadline has epitomized why I love being a fan. And as a fan I’m starting to ask the question, why not this year?
Follow me on Twitter: @brianbund