Falling on their Own Sabres...

The Buffalo Sabres had their most-successful hockey season in recent memory last year. They won their division and won one playoff series before the Philadelphia Flyers stopped their run. They virtually swept the 1997 NHL postseason awards:

  • NHL MVP (Hart) plus Best Goaltender (Vezina) Trophy: Dominik Hasek.
  • Best Defensive Forward: Michael Peca. (The pages are laughably out of date.)
  • Coach of the Year: Ted Nolan. (I'm amazed the page is still here!)
  • Executive of the Year: John Muckler.

So if you were Sabres' president Larry Quinn, what would you do with your award-winning brain trust Nolan and Muckler? Why, fire them of course! Muckler was fired in May 1997, and Nolan was given an "insulting" one-year renewal offer in June, two weeks after the awards. For good measure, the Sabres traded away beloved star Pat LaFontaine sans-merci, and let the New York Rangers (who also now have Muckler as coach) handle his comeback attempt from concussions. Hasek was blamed for the firings by the fans and was booed enough to disturb his game, before scaling the Olympian heights and registering a near-record 13 shutouts and counting... this season.

Earlier this April, Quinn got the axe from new management. Will the Roman tragedy continue? Maybe it's even good for the team! They shocked the bigger, "badder" Flyers 4 games to 1 in their first-round playoff series. Then they swept the hallowed (and favored) Montreal Canadiens 4-0 in the second round...

...but lost a very tough series to the Washington Capitals, 4 games to 2. However, harmony seems to be reigning now, and season-ticket sales are heading back up. Wait 'til Next Year!