Sunshine State could save season for Sabres
Gettin’ outta Dodge. Go South, young man. Gone Fishin’. Pick a saying, pick a cliche. Hang whatever sign you want. The Buffalo Sabres are hoping a trip to Florida can be a huge panacea for a season that has fast taken on water. The Sabres practiced early Monday morning then jetted to Tampa, where they will meet the Lightning tonight in the Tampa Bay Times Forum. They’ll play the Florida Panthers Thursday in Sunrise. It’s the annual fathers/mentors trip, with elders accompanying the players and hoping to see the end of a four-game losing streak that has cost longtime coach Lindy Ruff his job, dropped the Sabres to last in the Eastern Conference and on the precipice of last overall in the NHL. “You need to have belief,” winger Drew Stafford said Monday. “As bad as it gets, obviously we’re not going to give up. We have the right guys in here that we can turn it around. We’ve done it before. … We’ve got roughly 30 games or so left and it’s one of those things where it has to start tomorrow.” The environment around the team in Buffalo is as toxic as it’s been since the 2002-03 bankruptcy season, when the NHL was operating the club in the wake of the Rigas fiasco and then-HSBC Arena was half-full. But now the stands are packed. There are more than 15,000 season ticket holders and a group of fans that tore apart the Sabres Store to buy more than 50,000 pieces of merchandise during the one-week sale that greeted them during training camp week.
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