I have a friend, Mike, who is a life long Sabre fan, and despite growing up in Vancouver he adopted their expansion twins as “his” team and has been loyal ever since.
He was on their wagon when the French Connection came oh, so close to Stanley Cup glory in 1975, stayed with them during the darkest of years including the near death experiences and thoroughly enjoyed their ride through the playoffs of 1999 and once again last year (he no doubt found much joy at the dismissal of a team in Ottawa that I smugly had predicted great things for).
As a matter of fact he has even moved across country, locating within a reasonable amount of driving time away from the city that holds his favourite team. Now we’d like to tell you it was because he’s such a devoted fan, but actually he was more devoted to employment, the proximity of the Sabres were just a nice bonus we guess.
So being such a faithful fan of the team, you can imagine how over the moon he is at the moment, as the pride and joy of Northern New York State continue on along with their winning ways.
Monday night the Sabres made it win number nine, nine in a row in their first nine games, one win short of an NHL record. By any measuring stick they are one super hot team. They are by far the most successful blue print available for life in the “new NHL”, a fast paced, exciting team that features not one, but two outstanding goal tenders, all tucked in nicely into the NHL salary cap.
The head coach is considered one of the nicest and most competent of coaches in the NHL, the fans some of the most passionate. In a town that has seen many disappointments sporting, social and economic; the Sabres continue to give the faithful cause for hope.
This years edition is once again showing the likes of Philadelphia, Los Angeles, Chicago and Long Island how you really should go about rebuilding and re-loading for the quest for Lord Stanley’s Holy Grail.
So far this year, they continue to dominate their opposition, undefeated thus far and now able to smite those teams that dare to question their winning ways. Monday night, the Canadiens all but guaranteed their fans a home win over the high flying Sabres and in fact one Hab, Janne Niinimaa; actually suggested that the Habs would win.
We’re not sure what the Hab players have planned for the long time followers of Les Canadiens, but after a solid 4-1 thumping at the hands of the Sabres, some apologies and forgive us bouquets need to be offered up.
For Buffalo with a team record set on Monday, the path now continues on, another town beckons with another chance to extend the streak. Game number ten comes up in Long Island on Thursday night, with its opportunity to tie the NHL record of ten straight wins to start a season.
My friend is realistic enough to doubt that they will go 82-0 over the course of the season, it's a thought he can share with Sabres goaltender Ryan Miller, but one tenth of the way there; this is one fine looking hockey team.
There are about 29 other cities in the league right now that would love to adopt these guys as their own. They are a team that provides a hard working ethic, combined with a powerful offence, stellar defensive play and some superb goaltending.
Even with possibly the ugliest uniforms in the league right now, there are going to be a lot of folks scrambling to have a Sabre jersey under the Christmas tree, ready to dress well as they jump on that bandwagon.
They’ll just have to remember that Mike has the number one seat there, he was there at the beginning, and it’s good to see his team reward him for years of faithful service.