It only took interim head coach Ted Nolan four games to witness what most Sabres fans have been witnessing for four years: There are too many veteran players who've had it too easy and have been taking things for granted.
The legacy of former GM Darcy Regier's "core" is that of mediocrity and a laissez-faire attitude. Former coach Lindy Ruff somehow managed to get the most out of a core group consisting of mostly prima donna's.
But Nolan has seen enough.
“The gloves are officially off,” he said after last night's 4-1 loss at Philadelphia. "We have to change some things, and the players are either going to do it or it’s going to be a very, very long year. And they might not be here.”
Bill Hoppe of the Olean Times Herald believes that Nolan just threw a shot across the bow of the SS Slacker saying that "Nolan's strong words mean the Sabres will start making moves."
"Bet on it," he concludes, "In the next week or so, the hapless Buffalo Sabres will trade or waive at least one underachieving veteran."
And it's about time.
Only one "core" player remains from the group team president Ted Black dubbed, "The Rochester Guys." And that's goalie Ryan Miller.
Miller is the only one left standing because he's the only one who brought, and still brings, compete every game.
Unfortunately, he'll probably be traded by the trade deadline. And he probably should be. For his own sake and for his willingness to ride this sinking ship until management throws him a lifeboat.
The group that followed "the core" has really picked up some bad habits and it would seem as if that's the group that Nolan is directing his consternation at.
That grouping is lead by Drew Stafford, one year short of a "Rochester Guy" and Ville Leino, a player who represents the perils of free agency.
Although Stafford is about as inconsistent as they come, he does show signs of life and has actually put up goals and points during his career in Buffalo. He will become an unrestricted free agent at the end of next season and could probably fetch something at the 2015 trade deadline.
Leino, on the other hand, just simply isn't doing it.
Hoppe points out that he has a mere two points in 11 games, has six shots all season and was dropped all the way down to the fourth line. "Leino," writes Hoppe, "is untradeable given his six-year, $27 million contract. He’s almost certainly getting bought out this offseason. Perhaps the Sabres will just cut their losses now."
Not only does Nolan have a problem with inconsistencies and slacking, he also has a problem with stupidity, as in dumb penalties.
Last night they had seven minor penalties and Nolan was none too thrilled with that, “Penalties are going to stop (or) people who are doing it are not going to be in the lineup. It’s plain and simple as that.”
Leino had a dumb slashing penalty last night. Myers was called for cross-checking a Flyer by the Sabres net (a weak call at best) and he was whistled for tripping Brayden Schenn.
Both Cody McCormick and Henrik Tallinder shot the puck over the glass in the first period, while Cody Hodgson and Mike Weber were called for holding and tripping, respectively.
Nolan should slap his own hand as well. While short-handed the Sabres were whistled for too many men on the ice.
All of this has been going on for years and it was quite the party whilst momma Regier was in charge.
But the party's over.
If Nolan is true to his words, chips will be flying as veterans who've had it too good for too long get the axe.
And that's a good thing.