Rob on the island, this means you. And Greg from the office. And Tommy down in Maryland.
You're done, you've had it.
The Sabres have driven you up the wall, or into it. Either way, you say you're checking out.
I feel your pain. I was in the building last night for the Boston beatdown, and Saturday for Colorado's win, and last Thursday for the Vancouver sleeper. I know how you feel.
Let me try to help.
I'm 41. Those guys I mentioned up top, they're all friends of about the same age. And they all have memories of rooting for the Sabres as children. Rob and I talked about them in high school a lot. Tommy and I went to games 30 years ago.
Now, I think, we're looking at two years before the Sabres are at least about an average team. Better still, if they hold on tight to their plan and make some good decisions, they'll be an average team with benefits: young players, one or two of the highest potential, worth watching and believing in.
But ugh, I know, these two years. That's 164 games -- or, mercifully, only 153 more. It's bad as can be right now, I agree.
Here's what you can do to dull the pain: Think of how little time two years really is.
As October 2011 arrived, Sabres fans were on a high. It's true, we were. And it wasn't because the team was coming off any playoff success. It was because Christian Ehrhoff chose Buffalo and so had Robyn Regehr and Ville Leino and Terry Pegula. Team president Ted Black had boasted of Buffalo being "Hockey Heaven", and it was looking like a success.
The Sabres went to Europe and beat the Ducks and Kings to start their season. They seemed like a progressive franchise with an improving reputation. This was not that long ago.
If that doesn't help, try another tactic: Think of the Bills.
In November of 2011 -- less than two years ago -- the Chan Gailey- and Ryan Fitzpatrick-led Bills were blown out in Dallas and Miami on successive Sundays. Marcell Dareus had yet to prove anything, and for that matter neither had C.J. Spiller. Roscoe Parrish was on the team in 2011.
A lot has changed. It's not that long ago.
Do whatever it takes to trick yourself, or to calm yourself down. Is Ryan Miller's Olympics performance still fresh in your mind? Well that was almost four years ago. Have little kids like I do? Know how people are always telling you how fast it goes? Well, they're right! Two years ago my son, just having turned 2, only knew the names of like half the states. Time is flying, as they say.
I'm not saying the Sabres don't have an obligation to try to make these games as much fun as they can be. If we know, and even accept, that rebuilding is common and logical, at least do your best, Sabres, to make us want to ride along. Whatever that can be -- who plays and who doesn't, for starters -- should be attempted.
This is what I'd love most from Pegula, who, bowing to the notion that he has no interest in the spotlight, hasn't had much to say about anything since buying the team: Stand behind rebuilding -- if you must, stand behind your people -- but promise fans that he knows it's still his mandate to make games fun to watch.
Can't a sports team do this? Does everything have to be in the cold, heartless name of squeezing out whatever team a coach thinks is best? If fans want fights, give them fights. If fans want Mikhail Grigorenko to play 20 minutes with talent, give them that. Be creative. Let fans actually vote on a roster move. Hey, hockey, yes, we're rebuilding in Buffalo. But we're still going to have fun with it.
These games exist, more than for any other reason, to entertain fans.
A big part of a sports team's draw is fans feeling like they're at the "place to be". This is what the Sabres created in 2006, combining a winning team with lower prices and an overall feel-good appearance. Fans that didn't care about hockey wanted to be at the arena.
Now, the opposite is true, as fans who love the Sabres -- even fans that have already paid for their tickets, tickets that are not cheap -- don't want to be in there.
Saturday night, having my season seats in hand for the Avs game, seats I paid $154 for, I actually pondered staying home and cutting my losses. I couldn't do it. But when in the second period I bought a $7.75 small can of Corona to dull the pain of a 3-0 deficit, I was wishing I'd done so. Parking, food, drink and babysitter cost more than one ticket.
(The Sabres, as has been this commentator's opinion for the better part of the last two decades, don't help themselves much by consistently failing miserably in what marketing folk call "game presentation". Many diversions during stoppages miss the entertainment mark -- it's rare when they don't -- and some are downright cringe-worthy. Wednesday night when somebody they employ thought it right to blare "Big Bad John" after John Scott's brutal cheap shot of Boston's Loui Eriksson, I literally covered my face with my hands. Subconsciously I suppose I was hoping at that moment that no one would notice me being there.)
So it's a rough road ahead. There will be more nights like last night, perhaps many more. Wrap your arms around it. Because no matter how bad it is you're not going to wake up tomorrow or October 25 of next year and decide to root for Boston.