The Sabres need an identity to get their fans back

February 1, 2018
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Buffalo, NY (WGR 550) - Thursday morning I was talking for former Sabre and current Florida coach Bob Boughner. As I sit here watching his team play the Sabres in front of a sparse crowd, something he said keeps gnawing at me.

Boughner was part of a team that had characters who were tough guys, Rob Ray, Brad May and Matt Barnaby. They weren’t the best team in the league, but fans loved coming to the arena. Boughner said to me, “There was never a dull moment, I mean we gave the fans a pretty good atmosphere to come and watch and I know there wasn’t a lot of teams that liked playing us, but we battled hard. We were younger guys back then and we had an identity, that’s for sure.”

If you look at that quote, that’s the problem here in Buffalo. The Sabres are not a good team, but they also rarely entertain. Fans and visiting players comment all the time how quiet it is here and that’s because there’s nothing to cheer about.

The other thing is this team has no identity at all. Now I realize times have changed in the NHL, but teams used to have identities, the Philadelphia Flyers and Boston Bruins would try to win the game in the alley and then beat you on the scoreboard. The Edmonton Oilers, Montreal Canadiens and New York Islanders would kill you with skill.

I can even look back to Tuesday night and the New Jersey Devils. That team’s identity is speed throughout the lineup. The Sabres don’t have speed, they have very little talent, they don’t have toughness and they aren’t mentally sharp.

Phil Housley and Jason Botterill want a fast team that gets up ice with speed and quick passes. Botterill said today on Schopp & the Bulldog that it doesn’t have to take forever this team to start competing for a playoff spot, but it’s obvious they have a lot of work to do. Until this team gives the fans something to cheer about like an identity they can relate to, fans are going to continue to turn down tickets for just $6.00 and stay home.