It wasn’t that long ago – the 2009-10 season to be exact – that Buffalo Sabres defenseman Tyler Myers won the NHL Rookie of the Year award. Myers was drafted in 2008 and given a chance to impress the Sabres’ coaching staff during the following preseason by playing with the big team. The fans instantly fell in love with the big guy and online petitions were started to keep Myers in Buffalo and out of the AHL. The pleading worked as Myers was kept on as one of Buffalo’s six full-time blue liners.
After his debut season ended and Myers was handed the Calder Memorial Trophy for NHL Rookie of the Year, the future looked bright for the 6-foot-8 tall kid with the dual American/Canadian citizenship. But his NHL points production has steadily decreased since that rookie year, and fans are now divided over Myers’ real value to the team.
In all fairness to Myers, a good defenseman should not be judged by the number of goals or assists he racks up. Former Sabres defensive star Bill Hajt is still a legend in the Buffalo area for being a truly solid defensive player and Hajt only had 42 goals in his entire career. But Myers’ stock as a defensive player has been dropping as many fans accuse him of persistently being out of position and acting almost timid when it comes to getting into the corners and getting the puck out of the defensive zone.
There are two reasons why Sabres fans are having such a hard time determining where they stand on Tyler Myers. For one thing, Myers does not fit any kind of mold that fans like to use to conveniently describe players. While he has a flair for going to the net and creating offensive opportunities, his game is really not based on scoring points. He forces the play out of his zone and into the opposing end to take pressure off his goalie. Buffalo fans want to see more pizzazz out of Myers, but that is just not his game.
The other frustrating thing for Sabres fans is that Tyler Myers is 6-foot-8, weighs over 225-pounds, and will not play a physical game. Myers has shown, on rare occasion, that he can become very aggressive when he is angry. But he is simply not known for using his big body to benefit his hockey team. In a city like Buffalo, big hockey players that do not play physical are usually not appreciated.
Some fans thought that the return of Henrik Tallinder to the Sabres would bring back Myers as it was Tallinder who helped Myers excel in his rookie year. But early in the 2013-14 season, it seemed like not even “Hammering Hank” Tallinder could help get Myers back on track.
Then Ted Nolan happened.
The Sabres’ interim coach has a flair for getting the most out of his players, and he seems to have turned Myers’ game around. The big defenseman is carrying the puck out of his zone again and causing all kinds of havoc in the offensive zone. But he is not producing points, and that has a lot of fans frustrated.
At this point, half of Sabres fans want to see Myers traded and the other half think he is one of the keys to the team’s future. The debate will rage on as Ted Nolan and Pat LaFontaine continue to piece together what fans hope will be a championship team. Will Myers be there when the final roster is put together? The only one who knows that right now is Nolan, and he is not talking.