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Andy Gray from the SI Vault posted this today. It’s an amazing shot of Hasek sprawling around in one of his classic unorthodox but highly effective positions that he made his living off of.

https://twitter.com/si_vault/status/469218308697620481/photo/1 

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We’ve all seen Frozen, right? If not do that or at least listen to “Let It Go” before we get started. That song has been everywhere alongside “Let Her Go” by Passenger and they definitely have some thematic crossover as evidenced by the billions of Youtube covers that we’ve all been sick of since February. What does this have to do with Buffalo sports? Hold on and stick with me. I’m taking detours but we’ll get there.

We as Buffalo sports fans have been through the ringer. The Sabres have finally bottomed out and got rid of most of the team’s best players. It’s been tough to see Vanek look great for Montreal or to see Gerbe have a rebound year after looking lost the past couple seasons as a Sabre. It really does suck and I get it. Watching Briere do great things in the playoffs makes my heart drop to my stomach. Just because it sucks though doesn’t mean we need to hold onto these players.

The Sabres have been steadily getting worse for years and the team and its fans desperately tried to pretend that the core we had for years would work. The team regressed and regressed until we had no choice but to fire beloved coaches, not so beloved GM’s, and a lot of players we’ve grown up with. Many of them have gone on to be successful. Lindy Ruff has a playoff team playing some good Hockey alongside solid possession numbers. Pominville was on a tear and still playing good Hockey. Miller is backstopping for a Cup contender and has looked a little up and down but when he’s on, he’s on. They were all big members of the community and people didn’t want to lose them because they were afraid they’d succeed somewhere else, and often times they have. Just because someone is going to play somewhere else doesn’t mean you have to keep them if they’re not playing up to their ability here. It was time for the Sabres to start over. The team had grown stagnant and they weren’t going the right direction anymore. The same can be said for the people in our lives at times. Some people just aren’t meant to be there anymore and you have to relinquish them even if it’s going to hurt to see them be happy with other people. The Sabres knew this was how it had to be and they made tough but necessary moves.

The Sabres have drafted plenty of good young players and conferred their best players to gain more assets for the future. It’s not gonna be immediate and it’s not gonna be easy but they’ve done what they need to do. Letting go of their best players has set them up for some great things. Reinhart or Bennett will do great things someday. Ristolainen looks solid and we all know what Girgensons brings to the table. They have players in place and it will be exciting to watch McCabe, Fasching, Zadorov become the players people believe them to be. It took some pain to get here and some more pain down the line but it will result in a new era of Sabres’ hockey. One that’s hopefully a little more palatable than the lukewarm product we had to watch for years.

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"JP DUMONT! IT’S ALL OVER. DO YOU BELIEVE?!!"

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The Sabres honestly have some great broadcast talent and losing Roby is huge. It’s never going to be the same and I’m gonna miss his inane sayings and jokes. He added a ton of character to the broadcasts.

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"And this series is going back to where Jimmy Hoffa is!"

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Ville Leino getting one of the loudest cheers anyone’s received this year and then winning the shootout was the best moment of the season this year other than buttgoal. What a weird and delightful thing that was to see. You can’t help be happy for him considering how bad he’s been and how awful fans have been to him .It was awesome to hear everyone support him and for him to deliver. The moment I heard the crowd roar I knew he was taking it without seeing him, and then when he was announced there wasn’t a doubt in my mind he’d score.

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Andy Provin

If you’re into the Bills I highly suggest this guy’s channel. He has every single touchdown of Andre Reed’s career uploaded and spotlights storylines like the rise of Doug Flutie and has whole seasons of Primetime uploaded. He mainly posts Bills’ videos but his channel is full of great NFL footage in general.

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The end of this video is surreal. The Bills are decisively winning and on their way to the playoffs. Reed just came into second place all time in receiving. The crowd is saluting him and he’s overcome with emotion. For those of us who mainly remember the 00’s this is almost foreign. I became a Bills’ fan around this time but it doesn’t seem real anymore. 

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Going to be a surreal scene without Lindy behind the bench but it will be great to start playing again and moving on. The future starts tonight.

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In the winter of 2007 the city of Buffalo was in love with the Sabres. Cars were adorned with flags year round. The halls of local schools were littered with blue and gold nearly every day and the infamous slug jersey was the hottest selling uniform in the league.. That January right before the All-Star Break my friend and I went to see the Sabres play the Canucks. Before the game they had a special ceremony to salute the players and coaches headed to the All-Star Game. The first to receive salutes were Danny Briere, Ryan Miller, and Brian Campbell. They were cheered loudly and deservedly so for their erudite play. The loudest ovation of the night however by far was for Lindy Ruff. When they put the spotlight on him to announce him as the coach for the Eastern Conference All Stars he put his hand up to the crowd and they responded with a deafening roar. It was a perfect moment. A town whose identity had become the team was showing their love and appreciation for the coach who had the best team in Hockey and who had spent his life dedicated to the franchise. Both sides were ripe with sincere appreciation and love for each other. Lindy Ruff wasn’t just a coach but a irreplaceable member of our community. He has been around 10 years and had brought the team and city to great heights and truly belonged to Buffalo. They went on to win that game in a shootout following an emotional last second goal from Chris Drury.

Nearly a month later I was fortunate enough to be invited to see the Sabres play the hated Ottawa Senators . That game was a fast paced game with lots of scoring and skill. When Chris Neil hit Chris Drury hard and he did not get up the entire game changed. Drew Stafford engaged Chris Neil and the following shift Buffalo went back after Ottawa which resulted in a passionate and violent brawl. The goalies grappled and the players were frantically throwing punches. As the fighting on the ice settled down the crowd erupted even louder than the din that had been going for the past few minutes. In between the benches Lindy Ruff was screaming at Brian Murray. The crowd was hanging on every mouth movement and motion and there was a sense that things could escalate even further. Once again the building was standing steadfast behind Lindy Ruff and began a disorganized chant of his name .When the game was over and the wreckage had settled Lindy Ruff was fined for sending out his fighters following the injury. His argument was a big part of the conversation that week and the city had begun to put together a fund to pay his fine. When he heard about it he showed appreciation of the gesture but turned down the money and donated it to charity.

Years had passed since that team had fallen short of the Stanley Cup and the Sabres had spent the better part of a year and a half trying to find themselves again after they had lost the talent and magic that made them great. It was February in 2009 and the night before Flight 3407 had crashed in Clarence. Clarence was a small community and Buffalo is a small city where everything that happens somewhere is felt by the region at large. When the plane crashed the whole area didn’t know how to make sense of what happened. It was a cold, grey day and the Sabres had a game that night. Lindy Ruff and many of the players who had lived in Clarence spoke candidly about their experiences the night before when they began to realize something terrible had happened. When asked Lindy Ruff said “This is an incredibly sad day for our city and we’ve talked about it. This is going to reach and touch a lot of people.” His words summarized the small town culture of Buffalo. It’s a place where everyone knows each other through someone else and where each person’s absence leaves a void. That exists in many other places but it’s hard to think of somewhere as big as Buffalo where that’s the case. As the night came the Sabres took a big lead early n the game and relinquished it in the third period. Needing a goal late captain Craig Rivet took a shot that was tipped by future captain Jason Pominville to tie the game with 2 seconds left and gave everyone something to cheer about. The game went to a shootout where the Sabres won. The team celebrated heartily on the ice and you could feel the release of emotion all over. The scene in the arena on TV was one of relief. It was an awful day for the city but the team was a great distraction that night that once again everyone rallied behind. It was fitting they’d be the ones to do it. They were the cultural identity of the city. No one was a bigger part of that identity than Lindy Ruff. When he spoke of the pain of his city and his team won that night it was hard to not realize how much he loved Buffalo and his status.

It’s those moments and memories to me that make today such a tough day. The team had been stagnant and nothing seemed to be working anymore. It was coming for a long time and justified but when getting rid of Lindy Ruff you lose a man who had given the community so much and who loved the city as it had loved him. That reciprocation makes it hard to picture a more perfect union between a city and coach.