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04 May 2007

The politics of Goose and Max

There is a lot of discussion going on about the possibility of Drew Stafford being sat to make room for the return of Paul Gaustad. Also, there is still the ongoing chatter about the Max Afinigenov benching.

We'll talk Max first. This was a bit of a strange move by Ruff in my estimation. He does have a history of doing things like this with rookies, just ask Thomas Vanek. I believe that in trying to send a message to Max Ruff might have done damage in the room. This has been a close nit team and most matters have been handled in-house. I think that many of the players took umbrage with the calling out of Max in the press in the first place and then the scratch. In Ruff''s defense the media in Buffalo has been waiting to pounce on a Max-failing-to-show-up-for-the-playoffs-story and pounce they did. I think he handled it poorly. Max hasn't played well, but he was hardly the worse player. I would argue that Briere has been even worse. I think the players have moved past it and have rallied around Max. In fact, Thomas Vanek was quoted yesterday on WGR Sports Radio 550 as saying it was his and Derek Roy's responsibility to help Max out of his slump. This is a good sign for Ruff in my opinion. It seems that the players, instead of making it a public controversy, have given Ruff an out for his poor decision.

Then there is Gaustad. I think he is a tough player for people outside of Buffalo to wrap their hands around. He is an immensely respected and popular player in the Buffalo room and the public. He is also Ryan Miller's best friend on the team. The closest player I can equate him to is Joel Otto as he does a lot of the same gritty things Otto was famous for. I firmly believe he will be the next captain of this team after Drury and Briere. Ruff is in a tough spot here. If Gaustad can play and he sits him in favor of a rookie, even one as talented as Stafford, he sends a bad message to the team. Ruff is pretty cognizant of leadership issues and the politics of messing with that leadership. Basically an 80% Gaustad might be more valuable to the Sabres than a 100% Stafford.

The guy forgotten in all of this is Stafford. The kid has done and said all the right things. He is quoted today in the Buffalo News as saying he is prepared to step aside to make room for Gaustad. The kid shows maturity beyond his years, he really gets it. The best thing about this is Stafford is making it easy for Ruff to find a way out of this situation.

This is a good sign for Buffalo. I think the problem has been resolved, at least temporarily, and I expect to see more jump and focus. They have let Ruff off the hook and decided to move on. Gaustad alone should help increase the energy level. My expectation is that you will see a highly motivated and physical Sabres team tonight and that should lead to a comfortable victory.

4 fanatics have replied:

Bleu, Blanc et Rouge said...

Thanks for this, I was starting to wonder why the hell Drew Stafford would be scratched!

Why don't they finally sit Hecht?

The Ghost said...

I am not sure about the Hecht thing. I think it might be a size issue as he is one of our better corner guys. He has been moved off the Briere line tonight to the 4th line according to WGR55.

Rob said...

WOW.

just....WOW.

(not too eloquent, but can you blame me?)

The Ghost said...

Well...

I got most things right except the comfortable victory. Lundqvist was absolutely amazing.

A totally different team tonight.

Wow, wow wow and

Chris Druuuuuuuuury!!!!

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