Cross-sport comparisons are hard to come by. The four major sports are so different that they don’t bring much of the same player, except in extreme circumstances. Most of the sports have trouble bringing in the same fans as other sports. So how can the Buffalo Sabres and Chicago Cubs be so easily compared?
Both franchises are in the same exact place. The Cubs have not won the World Series in over a century. The Sabres have never won the Stanley Cup in their 45 year history. The Cubs and the Sabres are beloved in their city. They have heart-breaking losses that make it hard to be a fan. The easiest comparison, however, is how they built their current teams.
The Cubs and Sabres both ended up in last place for the past three seasons. They used those bad seasons to build a very good base of young players. They traded away veterans they didn’t need, and used the past two seasons to sign vets who could last the next few years. The Cubs brought in Jon Lester and Jason Hammel, while the Sabres brought in Brian Gionta and Matt Moulson.
Both these teams are built on youth. The Cubs are going to make the playoffs this season on the backs of Kris Bryant, Addison Russell and Anthony Rizzo. There are plenty of other players whose roles have increased thanks to their great play, and some of them are under the age of 25. The Sabres are going to look towards players like Jack Eichel and Zemgus Girgensons to lead the team for the next decade. They are a combined 39 years old.
Another huge comparison was the coaching decision. The Cubs replaced their coach, despite Rick Renteria getting a roster that Casey Stengel couldn’t help make the playoffs. He was then replaced Joe Maddon, who is considered one of the best managers in recent memory. Ted Nolan wasn’t allowed to win, and he was fired for it. He was replaced by Dan Bylsma, who is a Stanley Cup winning coach. They both now have a legit leader on their bench at all times.
Could the Sabres make the playoffs this season like the Cubs are? That is a bold statement, but it isn’t impossible. A lot will stem on how Ryan O’Reilly and Evander Kane fit into the team. There are a lot of variables, including if the Boston Bruins or Florida Panthers can put together playoff-caliber teams. Right now, the Sabres should be proud that they had a successful rebuild, and the Cubs showed them the sky is the limit.