This wasn’t a fun season. The Buffalo Sabres tanking negatively affected the Amerks roster and as a result we had to suffer through a plethora of meaningless games down the stretch. And…..no playoffs. Again. So, this will be the 10th consecutive season our beloved Amerks don’t get out of the first round and the 5th time in that same stretch that we don’t get to see any playoff games at all.
For most hockey fans – playoffs are what matters…and if you’re an Amerks hockey fan who followed the team in the 60’s or the 80’s&90’s – well, this is just intolerable right now. AAA hockey is not like AAA baseball where winning is minimized. In baseball, rosters expand for the big club before the season is even over. In hockey – they freeze. In baseball, the season ends a month earlier. In hockey – it goes later. Hockey IS playoffs. And Amerks hockey even moreso. It is built into the soul of the franchise. Those banners over the ice and in the Hall of Fame upper atrium area shouldn’t be decorations – they should be the mission.
I am of the opinion that the Amerks didn’t need to be bad this season. Especially not THIS bad. Greater depth could have been built over the summer. Moves could have been made sooner. And replacements could have been better. It’s one thing losing top prospects to the big club…that’s how it is and it’s a good thing…but losing mid-tier prospects and your veteran core, too (D’Amigo, Ellis, Dalpe…and Strachan never even saw Roc)?
Moving forward, we all have to forget about this tanking season. For me, I’ve had season tickets in my family for what will be the 33rd year next season. I expect GM Tim Murray to live up to his word and be more aggressive building the Amerks veteran core this July. I‘m not interested in my Amerks experience deteriorating into just another entertainment option. I’m not interested in it becoming like a Red Wings game where you enjoy the atmosphere and ignore the score.
*I want playoff runs.
*I want the crest to be treated with the respect that it deserves.
*And I want new banners.
Maybe “want” isn’t strong enough. “Demand” may be a better word.