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The Buffalo Sabres start playing hockey again tonight. It really doesn’t feel like it, though. Even stacked up against the recent history of overseas starts and a lockout, this feels weird. I couldn’t tell you why, though.

In fact, I couldn’t tell you much about this team. This is partially by design, as I’ve successfully stayed away from the Sabres during the barren stretches of the offseason. With the Buffalo Bills playing meaningful football and the excitement of Red Sox baseball, I haven’t felt the need to absorb training camp news. Even when it’s written by ´╗┐founding Roost member Chris Ryndak.

Indifference is not the position you want to take when you write about a team often, but I think admitting this distance and uncertainty is a good thing to have on October 2, 2013. I have no idea what the Buffalo Sabres are going to do this season. My expectations are decidedly low, and I think that’s the best approach to the next 82 hockey games this team will play.

One of the theories I often debated this summer is that the Sabres have essentially been the same team since 2007. Once Briere and Drury left, the same general mix of “emerging” talent, “veteran” players, rookies, and Thomas Vanek/Ryan Miller. The names are slightly different, but the style (and results) were mostly the same. It was a rut, harmful to the franchise and its fans despite a change of ownership in the middle of all that mediocrity.

What I’ve wanted from the team over the last few months is a sign of progress. I want to see that the team is getting out of its rut and finally building something sustainable. I have no idea if that’s what we’ve seen over the last few months, but I’m looking forward to see what happens. I’m not expecting much, but often that’s the best way to take in sports. Sometimes teams can surprise you.

The Sabres of the last seven years have been very unsurprising. I’ll take a shock here and there to keep it interesting this year.