Sabres Stampede into Europe

So the time is finally here Sabres fans! The Sabres have traveled to Europe for their first two regular season games and the air in the Queen City is rich with anticipation for the puck to drop. 

It is hard to ignore that the season, although one of the most anticipated in years isn’t starting not only in Buffalo, but not in North America.  As the NHL tries to expand their appeal around the world,  Buffalo seems like just the team to apply to the masses.  With Ryan Miller being a recognizable face from the Winter Games and this team being the talk of the league in the off season it seems like a good risk to take.  There is always the downside of not giving the teams fans whom are playing abroad the chance to be present for their teams home opener.  Nonetheless, hockey season is starting and that is exciting!

In preparation for the season, Coach Lindy Ruff has named veteran right winger Jason Pominville the teams full time captain.  Ruff also named Pominvilles assistant captains, Drew Stafford, Derek Roy, Thomas Vanek, and Paul Gaustad.  As was the case last year, there will be two assistants when the team is home and two when away.

Although it is very important for the Sabres to pick a leader, many fans believe that Pominville might not have been the best choice for the team.  He of course has been the teams rock, playing over 500 games in Buffalo and having been a clutch player for the team in the past.  Thomas Vanek was the player most fans considered to be the unofficial team captain at the end of last year, so when Ruff announced Pominville it did come as a shock to most people.

The main issue with Jason Pominville is that he might not be as outspoken as it needs to be with his teammates.  Just from watching interviews with #29 in past years, he really doesn’t have a way with words on camera, but maybe there is a side to him the fans don’t see.  A main job as a captain is to be your teams leader on a peer level, and there is a cautious eye watching Pomiville to see if he can speak up when players are lagging behind.  Only time will tell when it comes to this new group of captains, but it was maybe one of the most important decisions Ruff had to make before the season started.

On a side note, 25 year old Drew Stafford has been given a big opportunity in addition to his new four year contract.  He has been named assistant captain in place of former assistant captain, Jochen Hecht.  Hecht is still on the team, but has never quite produced as much as anyone hoped for and this seems to be a change that the fans have been waiting for.  Stafford is without a doubt going to be a key player in this teams success over the coming years, and Hecht seems to be on his way out.  This is a big opportunity for Stafford to step up on the ice, and in the locker room.  It will be exciting to see how he steps it up even more this season.

Heading into tomorrows match up, the Ducks are 2-1 in their last three games.  The Sabres are  1-1-1 in the last three, despite having a very promising start to the preseason.  The Ducks will be the first real test for the official Sabres roster this season, and no ones expectations are higher then Ryan Miller’s.  Miller has gone on record talking not about winning games, or changes to the roster, but winning the Stanley Cup.  This is the goal of the team and the city they play for, and it seems like one that could possibly be attained, if not this year then one in the near future.  Tomorrow at 1pm Eastern, we find out just what this new team is made of.


Lets Go Buff-a-lo!!!

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Matt Cefalu's picture

Awesome read. I look at Stafford as a guy who will step up to the challenge when presented with additional responsibility. I generally feel that way about myself and have a feeling he will perform in a similar fashion. Take Pitts' Jordan Staal, for example. With Crosby sidelined, Staal has had the opportunity to step into a larger leadership role with his team, which will help his squad long after Crosby's return to the ice. Sabres look to be in great shape for this season and I'm excited to see what they can do with a retooled roster.