The Rematch, Part 1. What a game! With the firing of Coach Rolston and GM Darcy Regier and the hiring of Pat LaFontaine as President of Hockey Operations and Ted Nolan as the interim coach, what a roller coaster! This organization was being protested by the widow of the original owner, the fans were booing the second that the Sabres took the ice, this team was HATED in this town for the soullessness that passed for heart, and now it's gone. The Sabres hired perhaps two of the most beloved alumni and the team responded by playing hockey like I haven't seen in years. It was a reminder that the talent is on the roster, we just needed people to unlock it. The Sabres aren't going to necessarily win the Cup this year, but Nolan is going to get us closer than we thought possible at the start of the season.
Ted Nolan coached the years of "the Hardest Working Team In Hockey" when the only superstar was Hasek and almost nobody scored more than 20 goals, but man that team was tough to play against. I don't see any reason why this team isn't going to be the same way. Heck, just the simple things like putting players at their natural positions have increased the effectiveness of this team tremendously.
The Game. What a solid effort. The Sabres were in it from start to finish. No fights that I saw (missed the first 10 minutes) but the hitting was there. Drew Stafford had the hit of the game. I don't think those words have ever been strung together in that way without being sarcastic. Everyone played hard, blocked shots, and finished their checks. Hockey plays actually occurred, not just dump and chase.
I'll tell you what: I've been boycotting the NHL all 2013 as payback for locking us out, but I broke it last night. I hated what this team had become and now it's like a giant ray of light seeing the potential of what this team has yet to accomplish. Sure it's one game, but as far as anyone is concerned it's the first game. I haven't been this excited in years. Nolan's going 62-0, baby!