April 13th is one answer to that question. That is the day of the Sabres final regular season game and will close the books on one of the sorriest seasons in franchise history.
But will that really be the end? Not really. Not really even close. The end of this season will be, maybe best case scenario, more like halftime. It seems likely that the Sabres are setting their sights on the 2014-15 season being very similar to this one. Get to the bottom, stay there, and hope the draft lottery goes your way and you get a crack at a franchise player.
A pair of drafts like that could get you on your way to being well. In the Sabres case they could end up with 3 players from the top of the next two drafts thanks to the Islanders owing them a first rounder in either '14 or '15.
The strategy is not bulletproof, but is sensible enough considering where the Sabres were starting from when they began dealing away their soon to be free agents last April. A variety of factors combined to push then GM Darcy Regier to the rebuild space on the game board. An inability to attract top free agents to supplement the veteran core lead to a fear said veterans would leave as free agents and the wrecking ball started swinging. And once it started it just didn't stop. The Sabres seemed to realize, to their credit I'd say, that if they were going to be bad they should be BAD, all caps.
So what are we supposed to do with these games? You know, the ones that have already filled this season and will most likely fill up the entirety of another. I was at the Montreal game Sunday night and I sat there just staring at the ice watching pretty much nothing happen. Nothing.
I don't know how season ticket holders do it, honestly. The commitment is so substantial and the product just so lacking right now. I get it if you might feel kind of stuck. You've got good seats and don't want to give them up because someday, like when Connor McDavid is on the team, you're going to want to be there. In the meantime, yeesh!
I used to brag about my capacity to still get something out of games the Sabres played once they were eliminated. I almost considered this like my own personal superpower. Well this season apparently is my kryptonite because I'm just shot. My capacity to watch meaningless hockey games has been exceeded. Oh I'll be there watching. This gig doesn't ask for too much so I'll put in the time. But there really isn't anything all that enjoyable about it and the bottom line is April 13th can't come fast enough.
I am going to need at least a part of my summer to recharge and be ready for another 7 month sprint to last place next season. Watching games when you don't much care about the result is the pits. Watching games when you think it might be best for your team to lose is even worse.