If you ever worry about the Sabres as a franchise, take solace in the fact that there are worse franchises out there. The team is in relatively good shape for residing in a small market, and considering we’re just a few years removed from bankruptcy it’s tough to complain about much in the way of finances. There is also a pretty consistent roster of players and good management to lead a team with loads of potential.
See? That’s no too bad when you go down the usual suspects of bad teams in the NHL. The Islanders are a mess, Ottawa is going down fast, and Wadell just may kill Atlanta once and for all someday. Still, there isn’t any team that compares to the circus going on in Tampa. Ownership, coaching, players, prospects; everything going on around the Lightning seems like it’s falling into chaos. Starting this summer with the roster overhaul and the Lecavalier extension everything but hockey has taken center stage in Tampa.
Hiring and firing Melrose. Mishandling Stamkos. Trading away their best defenseman. Trading away their second best defenseman. Overpaying for Malone. Prospal. I mean, look at their payroll and tell me that’s not a complete disaster. I don’t even know what to make of it.
To top all that off, now the rumors are that they are looking to move their franchise player. It’s a rumor that’s been denied to the high heavens, but the fact that it even exists tells you a lot about the situation down in Tampa.
The Lightning currently sit 12th in the conference, but it’s hard not to picture them in a state much worse than that. Rick freaking Tocchet is their head coach, who still has a the gambling probe cloud hanging over him. Melrose is bad mouthing the team everywhere he turns, and it’s hard to imagine many players look at the Tampa situation as a good climate for hockey. Talk to Dan Boyle about loyalty, too. Despite the fact that new ownership took over after that deal was finalized, it’s hard to trade your $7 million defenseman and look good afterwards.
It’s odd to say, but when you look at a team like Tampa you only appreciate the system in place here in Buffalo. For all the complaints of mediocrity, all the worry about ownership and finances; compared to Tampa Bay we have an all world organization in the Sabres. Buffalo may not have the funds to keep All Star defenseman and centers, but it’s not a complete disaster at all times.
We would have a heck of a lot more to talk about with a team like Tampa, but the differences between the two franchises really are pretty stunning. I think I’d rather have stability and a consistent chance to win over the reign of chaos currently holding serve down south. Then again, they did win a Cup. Is that one championship worth seeing your franchise run into the ground only a few years later?