Among all the chaos Sabres need to rebuild

In the 2013-14 hockey season, the Buffalo Sabres hasn’t been the most entertaining on-ice team. Off the ice, there’s been no shortage of headlines and this past weekend proved that even more.

Currently last place in the National Hockey League, the Sabres have been at the top of the headlines since the NHL returned from the Olympic break this past week — not because they have won three straight games for the first time this season, but because they have been surrounded by more drama than a weekday afternoon soap opera.

Over the weekend, the Sabres traded their franchise goalie and American Olympic hero Ryan Miller along with their team captain Steve Ott to St. Louis. One day after that, their President of Hockey Operations “resigned.” And somewhere in all of that the status of their interim coach is now in question.

To understand the cause for the drama you have to go back to the month of November. Pat LaFontaine a former Sabre who was a fan favorite and Sabres Hall Of Famer, was named President of Hockey Operations.

He brought along his great friend and former coach who was also a fan favorite here in Buffalo, Ted Nolan, to be the interim coach. LaFontaine was also given the task of finding a general manager. He went through an extensive process and hand picked Tim Murray to be the new general manager.

The fans now had faith in the organization and the team began to play better. What looked to be a lost season suddenly became a little brighter and everything in Sabreland looked to be headed in the right direction.

Then came the trade of Miller and Ott, which brought out emotion in both the players and the fans. This was the first trade new GM Tim Murray made and although it was bittersweet to see them go he received a nice return for them, a silver lining for the fans.

The next day news broke that LaFontaine would be “resigning” as President of Hockey Operations and going back to his job in the NHL offices in New York City. This came as a shock to the media and the fans, what could possibly be going on?

There have been many rumors put out there but the story that is believed to be the truth is that LaFontaine felt as if he was getting pushed off to the side and not given enough input in the organization while the owner and front office felt as if he was overstepping his boundaries. This is what seemed to be a power struggle.

The resigning of LaFontaine made interim coach Ted Nolan very emotional since they were great friends and he appointed him. His status with the team has come into question as well. The Sabres offered him a contract extension but he has not accepted or denied it.

Reporters are saying this is just another black eye for the organization. Fans are also understandably outraged and seem to be using Murray as a scapegoat. I don’t believe that is right. This isn’t the first time LaFontaine has walked out of a job, in 2006 with the New York Islanders he was appointed senior advisor to the owner and after just six weeks he resigned because a new GM was put in place and he had no say.

Don’t be mad at Murray, be mad at LaFontaine although that might be hard to do. He had the chance to be GM but stated plenty of times that he didn’t want to, he didn’t want to have to make big decisions like that.

It seems he did want to make big decisions like that, just not all the time, only when he felt like it. He wanted a GM job but without the title so he didn’t have to assume the responsibilities that come with it.

Murray is the GM of this team and he operates with a get with it or get lost attitude. Clearly LaFontaine wasn’t getting with it, so it was time for him to get lost.

I love Murray’s attitude, it’s something this team needs because we’ve been losers for far too long. Just as Murray said in his press conference with reporters on Sunday “I just want people that want to be here, to be here.”

The Sabres are not a good team and they need to rebuild, the trades Murray executed are a step in the right direction.

As for LaFontaine resigning it can be compared to building a house. If you’re trying to build a house you need to make sure that your foundation is strong or your house will come crumbling down. The same goes for trying to rebuild a hockey team. LaFontaine was a weak link who didn’t see eye to eye with everyone else and needed to be removed for the sake of the direction of the organization.

This looks bad in the short term I will not disagree with that, but it was necessary. It had to get worse before it got better. I’m not saying you’re wrong if you’re upset or reporters are wrong for criticizing but I’m saying put your feelings aside and look at the big picture. Murray is in charge now and he hasn’t done or said anything that would make me question my faith in him guiding the Sabres from here on out.

Email: [email protected]