Time is short because I’m heading to the game tonight. Kevin sets the scene nicely, so I’ll leave the big preview to him.
Still, I’ve been thinking about the whole Miller situation over the past few days and I’ve been surprised by the reaction from a lot of people. The majority of fans are disappointed in the team’s lack of reaction from the Sabres, and that’s to be expected. However, fans overreact sometimes, and they are far from right all of the time. This does not surprise me.
What does surprise me is how the Sabres and Lindy Ruff have apparently reacted to it. Based on how quickly Ryan Miller shuffled away in his walking boot yesterday I’d say it’s a touchy subject, and Lindy Ruff wanted no part of it either. The people involved seem downright angry about any sort of talk like that, and especially Jerry Sullivan’s column on the subject.
That’s what is surprising. Athletes are used to what the media writes, and it’s very rare anything “gets through”, so to speak. They have built up immunities to criticism from outsiders and focus on the opinions that matter: coaches, teammates, owners. Besides, if something is written that misunderstands the situation, athletes write it off as a stupid columnist not understanding a game they never played.
That hasn’t happened with this situation, and for as much flack as a guy like Sullivan has taken, that’s worth noting. Maybe the reason accusations like this have ruffled so many feathers is because there is a bit of truth to it, and that truth isn’t something they want to face.
If that’s the case, this could turn out to be a good thing. Tonight’s game gives the Sabres the perfect opponent to “fight back” against, and they’ve been very chippy with the Ducks in the past. This could be a token statement game, not only for the fans and media but for the players itself. I’m expecting a reaction from this team, and everyone will be watching for the first time someone gets close to Patrick Lalime.
It may not have been the time to address it on Saturday, but it seems like the perfect time to do so is tonight. They’ve got all night to get around to it.