As a fan, it is hard to imagine what goes through the mind of a professional athlete leading up to a trade deadline. Rumors swirl around the mill for days and weeks with so-and-so going here and so-and-so going there. It is hard to keep up with sometimes, and it must be hard to stay focused. Now that the NHL trade deadline has passed, players can now focus on doing the job they are paid to do: play hockey.
The Buffalo Sabres have been a bad team for most of this season. Ownership decided to go in a different direction with the management group and coaching staff, and brought in some familiar faces to try and get things back to the way they were before. Since the beginning of November, the Sabres have been a different team. The revolving door is finally closed, at least for the rest of this season. So what is to come?
For a short period of time, it seemed as though some of the players were playing harder, skating faster and shooting more accurately in the hope that they would be the next ones out of town. Once the NHL resumed operation after the Olympics, nobody was safe (maybe with the exception of Zemgus Girgensons) from being traded. Once the first domino fell, the rest would follow.
The deadline came and went and the Sabres still had a team. By the sounds of things leading up to it, nobody was sure who was going to be left for tonight’s game against the Tampa Bay Lightning. It was also unclear how the players who stayed would respond. Would they feel sorry for themselves because they weren’t moved to a team that is destined for the postseason? Would they be jealous of the players who did leave? The answer to that question is no.
There is a reason why these guys are professionals. They go out and get the job done one way or another. They may not always come out on top but night in and night out, they give it all they have. The Sabres looked like a different team tonight, and almost looked a bit unfamiliar at times with the way they were creating scoring chances.
Jhonas Enroth was superb now that he is finally the No. 1 guy in net. The Sabres did acquire Michael Neuvirth at the deadline, but it appears as if it will be Enroth’s job to lose. Chris Stewart had his best game so far with the Sabres, and the complexion of the team seems to have changed.
Maybe it was just for tonight, but the fans of the Sabres may be in store for something special one of these days. They deserve it.