By Mike Harrington
The Sabres have been too stale for too long. We've all heard that line. I've used it too. But you look at the roster and you see plenty of change the last two years. Now the coach is different. One thing I've noticed about Terry Pegula & Co. is they're not afraid to try it another way.
"We tend to pivot," team president Ted Black told me today after the press conference to transfer the Webster Block to the team from the city that officially paves the way for the spectacular, $172 million HarborCenter. "This project was off our radar completely. We're not land developers.
"The epiphany for us was that somebody is going to build something right at our front door. We're either going to maybe like it or hate it. At that point, Terry said, 'There's one way to fix that. We'll do it ourselves.' "
I'm with Black on the project. It's a complete game changer for downtown. He said hockey fans should have "goosebumps when they think about the possibilities of having three rinks under one NHL campus/roof." The potential is huge for things like youth tourneys, college and junior games, the Regals partnership announced yesterday. It would help with ancillary rink space for a return someday of the Frozen Four and World Juniors too.
Pretty obvious the Sabres have to pivot on this team too. They know it. The play is better but the results remain discouraging. That said, Black likes what he's seen from interim coach Ron Rolston.
"I like what I'm hearing from the players about Ron," Black said. "I think Ron is 'Cool Hand Luke' when it comes to a lot of this stuff. He doesn't get rattled. He pays attention to detail. He's certainly not looking up to the ceiling the first time he's in a building like your first time in New York City as a country bumpkin. I really like what I'm hearing from the players. They're playing a little bit better right now.
"Ron is good at developing players. Especially with a team that does have a corps of young guys, they probably need that kind of mentoring more than others."