I know this is going to seem hypocritical from the gal who was just demanding that the playoffs start, like, yesterday, but: people freaking out about the trade deadline need to stop getting ahead of themselves. I know that freaking out about trade deadlines is a long-cherished tradition among us Buffalo fans, but for whatever reason, all the bellyaching is really getting to me this year.
I guess I just don't get why the expectations for this team are suddenly so high. Don't get me wrong, I would love to see the Sabres win the Cup this year as much as anyone, and I think we just might have a shot. But before this season started I was just hoping we would make the playoffs for a change, so I'm not about to go declaring this season a failure if Darcy doesn't get us the player we need tomorrow.
First of all, because I'm not sure the player is out there to be had. We have our weaknesses, sure, but that doesn't mean there's anything Darcy can do about it. Not many teams are selling, and those that are don't seem to have that much to sell. But then again, what do I know. As usual, I'm more than comfortable letting the people who get paid to figure this stuff out, figure this stuff out.
Second of all, because there's no reason our Stanley Cup dreams--if we insist on having them--should live and die based on what happens tomorrow. For better or worse, there's still plenty of hockey left to be played before we even make it to the playoffs, let alone the victory lap. Sure, maybe this roster isn't good enough to put a ring on everybody's finger, but maybe it is. We can't just skip to the end of the story, we have to wait and see.
Last of all (and this is my real point), so what if this roster isn't good enough to win the whole thing? Maybe I'm being too deliberately cheerful about this situation, but at this point I'm fully prepared to be satisfied with less out of this season. I know fans always want to see their team be the best (I'm no different, mind), but the truth is only one team can be every year. I've spent two years without a real interest in the playoffs, so forgive me for being ready to be happy with second or third or even fifth best.
Does no one remember how much fun the playoffs were to watch in 2007, when our expectations hit "Stanley or Bust" sometime around November? Answer: Not very, and I can't help seeing the correlation. Sure, our expectations didn't make the Sabres suck out loud against Ottawa in round 3, but they did make rounds 1 and 2 feel perfunctory. Did anyone really get to enjoy eliminating the Islanders in 5 and the Rangers in 6, or did it just feel routine? That 7.7 second goal was sweet, but it still felt like an opening act, didn't it? Knowing now that the headliner blew, I wish I'd given the openers more of a chance.
I'm not going to deny that since seeing Olympic MVP Ryan Miller at work, I've spent every night nestled all snug in my bed, with visions of sugar-Stanleys dancing in my head, but there's a difference between hopes and expectations. And in this case, the difference lies in how far I fall when things don't work out. I'm not saying that I don't believe they can win it all, I'm just saying that I'm not ready to expect them to do it, and I probably won't be raising my expectations that high until the third round, at least. To do so on the third of March seems like setting myself up for disappointment. And if there's one thing the Sabres don't need help with, it's setting their fans up for disappointment.
Let me just close this post by stating for the record that I'm not trying to tell anybody how to feel. As always, I fully respect the "whatever floats your boat" philophy of sport fandom, where feelings are often irrational and illogical, but never illegitimate. It's just that, from where I'm sitting, it seems like we have a hell of a ride ahead of us, and my feeling is, "Why spoil it?"