The NHL has several teams entering the 2013-14 season with a new look. Not only are the goaltenders, forwards, and ‘defencemen different, but the leaders are as well. Eight clubs bid goodbye to their captain sometime in the last year, and seven of them have found a replacement. Not only are these players now ambassadors for the organization, but over half of them are stepping into that role with a team that did not make the playoffs last season. Today, we start with four: Two teams find themselves just about to make the long-awaited jump to the post-season, while the other two are trying to pick up the pieces. Blackhawk Up proudly presents Part One of Taking The Reigns.
Buffalo Sabres: Thomas Vanek/Steve Ott
The ‘Shoes To Fill’: Jason Pominville
Trading Jason Pominville wasn’t a shocking move made by the Buffalo Sabres near the 2013 trade deadline, but it didn’t soften the blow one bit. Pominville was born and bred in the Sabres system, and had played 8 1/2 seasons with the team since being drafted in the second round of the 2001 NHL Entry Draft. 578 games and 456 points later, Pominville’s trade signals the start of a new era in upstate New York. He is looking for success, and the Sabres are looking for a strong foundation.
The Sabres aren’t looking for a championship run in 2014, but merely need to be taken seriously once again, after a laughable 2013 campaign left the club gasping for air. Putting up a fight and giving Buffalo fans hope for the future is more on the agenda this season, especially because they may not be done with roster moves.
Obviously, having co-captains is not a recipe for long-term success, merely patching the hole in the flat tire that is the Sabres organization. Both Steve Ott (away) and Tomas Vanek (home) bring experience to the table, but their time may be limited as leaders, perhaps just bridging the gap before young guns like Tyler Myers or Cody Hodgson can take control.