But the atmosphere in the arena, was quiet and subdued. Defeated if you will. There was no hope among the faithful, especially with that 3rd goal. When Roy scored, it woke the place up. Then when Vanek got that terrible call, it was lights out. Game Over. There is no excitement with the Sabres. The little kids are always happy. That's nice. But the real noise comes from the adults. Soon other options will seem more attractive to parents. And other people and attendance will dwindle. Forget making money on resales. No one will buy them except below face value.
The bottom line is the team that started the season, seems to have disappeared. Will it come back? I don't know. Should they wait to see? I wouldn't its time to make moves. Not a move. Trading max ain't waking up the team. Benching Tallinder didn't work. Calling Mancari didn't work, except bringing up a player that wants to play. Line shifts don't work. Connolly helped, but he is brittle and can't be trusted. What is there left to do?
Fire Lindy Ruff?
Some may say that's stupid, but this team hasn't showed effort or consistent play in "the system" last year and now again this year. Last year it was a pass for the loss of Drury and Briere, but others have lost superstars and continued on. This team took a nosedive. No matter what Lindy does, doesn't seem to work this year. Would this wake the players up, and you can't promote James Patrick either. Its someone new outside the organization. Guys lose favorite status and have to win over the new coach leading to improved play.
Make a Trade
This seems like the more obvious answer. But who, for what, or multiple players for a big name. Getting rid of Max isn't going to do anything and no one will be scared. But you trade a Hank Tallinder or a Derek Roy. People will notice. This team is infected with a lazy, sloppy play virus. Hecht almost seems immune to it. Pominville is up and down, but looks to straighten his game out. But Roy, Stafford, Kotalik, Gaustad all seem nonexistent for the most part. MacArthur was straight awful on Saturday and is 3rd line player none higher. The fourth line guys play hard, but you can't expect much from them. Sekera is struggling, bringing down Spacek. Lydman is terrible. Rivet isn't much better. Paetsch is a 7th defenseman. Numminen is probably a guy you'd rather have as the 7th, then the everyday guy he is.
Roy has a nice low value contract, and could pull in some nice player, especially if you package a Stafford with him. There needs to be another stud on the backend, to spell Numminen, then you could put Tallinder back in. Who I bet is pissed. I hope he is. The problem is, what do you get for who. You can't make a trade to just make a trade. You have to make sure it makes sense. The Rivet trade made sense. There is poison on this team and you gotta get rid of it now.
The usual Regier position. Which sometimes seems to work out. Well this is the corp he wanted and this is what he is going to get. Hard play, then nights off. All through the year. Lucky to get hard effort in 50% of the games. The good effort in marketing the past few years, will wane. Ticket sales will drop and the building will be half empty again, or when the Leafs come to town, 60% leaf fans. That's not a good thing. Its embarrassing. Good for the local economy, bad for image.
Regier can't just stand pat. Its not a 7 game phenomenon, this happened last year, and even in the President's cup year. There are players on this team, you can't expect to play hard every night. He can't except that and move along. They will not make the Cup finals with that attitude. Maybe not even the Playoffs. They are in a hard division. Boston and Montreal are very good. Toronto is playing hard. Ottawa is Ottawa, but the Sabres always struggle with them.
I'm leaning with the make a trade option. Usually I'm a stand pat, win with the guys you have. But its been a year and a quarter. And its not working. Time to move some pieces around. I'm not sure who, but Roy looks like a good candidate to me, him and/or Stafford.
If this was a medical issue, the Sabres need some preventive medicine, before waiting till something more serious sets in. The longer the slide, the smaller the crowds. The smaller the crowds, the smaller the revenue. Which will lead to shipping guys out because they make too much. Then we go into Golisano looking to sell the team. And there's the big bad Ballsilie just lurking across the border.
I'm not an alarmist, but the product on the ice is what matters most in this town. When that starts slipping, everything falls apart around it. Call it the performance bubble.