This is huge news for Sabres fans for a number of reasons.
First off, Myers will be assured of doing more than playing shinny on various rinks around the Western New York area. This is both good and bad. On the positive side, Myers will be playing against heightened competition, with many other NHLers headed to Europe as well. It’s not clear exactly which league Myers would be looking to play in, but KHL teams would likely be eager to have him. This would mean he would play against the likes of Alex Ovechkin and Evgeni Malkin. The Swiss-A league will likely have the services of Joe Thornton and Rick Nash again.
So while the positives of Myers keeping his level of play high greatly outweigh any negatives, there is one major one: Injury. Injuries are certainly part of the game as any Sabres fan knows, but to lose your best defenseman while he’s playing overseas would be devastating to the Sabres’ playoff hopes when the new CBA is signed. If anything, shinny is usually pretty laid back and injury free.
Second, Myers is the budding face of the Sabres. Ryan Miller is holding onto that job as of right now, but it’s not his for much longer. That role will go to Myers, and potentially other young players like Mikhail Grigorenko. How is it going to feel to see him playing in another jersey?
Sure, most will not care. But it will be jarring for others. Many may remember what it was like seeing Danny Briere play for Bern in the Swiss-A league, and for most it was not a necessarily comforting sight, especially fresh off of his best season as a pro.
Lastly, Myers’ election to go across the pond may be the impetus for other Sabres to join him. Tyler Ennis and Jason Pominville have already told Hoppe that if the lockout drags on they may join Myers in Europe.
With only four days until the current CBA expires, the level of optimism for the first puck to drop on time on October 11 in Montreal and Philadelphia is low. So, as each hour passes without a deal, it becomes more and more likely many NHL teams’ stars will head to Europe to keep their skills sharpened while the two sides work it out. Now, it is likely that the Sabres will not be spared from that fate as well.