One minute into Tuesday night’s game against the Winnipeg Jets, and the Buffalo Sabres were already losing.
Three Sabres lost a battle for the puck behind their own goal. Bryan Little was left unguarded in the high slot. The Jets scored; the life was sucked out of the crowd, which could be heard muttering in unison, “Here we go again.”
Later, that crowd lustfully booed the home team, which dropped to 13th in the Eastern Conference in losing its fourth game in its last five contests – three of them at home.
“I totally understand. I’m embarrassed,” said Lindy Ruff of the jeering. “We didn’t start skating until the third period.”
The Sabres have generated one goal or fewer in three of those losses, partially because their power play has been atrocious: two goals in its last 30 opportunities.
“They just want you to work hard. They want you to give them something to cheer about. And we’re letting them down,” said Ryan Miller, sullenly. “We’re not giving them the caliber of hockey this city deserves. Yeah, we deserve to get booed. From the top down, every player.”
So why not start at the top, right? Where is Terry Pegula on this disappointing Sabres campaign?
Mike Harrington of the Buffalo News notes that Friday is the second anniversary of Pegula’s introductory press conference – the one in which he stated the “reason for the existence will be to win a Stanley Cup.”
He said it’s time for Pegula to communicate to a fan base that has lost confidence in the hopeful tone he set two years ago:
The fan base is in an uproar. They feel like suckers taken for a ride on tickets, merchandise, concessions and parking. Believe me, I didn't take it lightly asking Lindy Ruff for his thoughts last night about the fan base clearly hating this team. And I chose the word intentionally. (For those of you tweeting at me that you don't hate this team, I submit that you haven't been in the building this year to hear what's become the league's most dreadful home-ice "advantage")
Ruff and Darcy Regier have far outlived their usefulness and the entire hockey world sees it. I've done seven out-of-town interviews in the last three weeks and EVERY ONE of them has asked some form of the following question: How do these two guys still have jobs?
It's a question the owner needs to answer. Today.
For all the “Lindy Watch” stuff that comes out when the Sabres are struggling, we all know that Regier and his coach are a package deal. The GM isn’t firing his guy. Which means that President Ted Black or Pegula will be the ones sweeping them both out when the time arrives.
How soon is now?