The last time the Sabres had a team that was able to make a push towards the Stanley Cup was in 2006 when they lost in the conference finals to the Ottawa Senators. That team included players like Daniel Briere, Brian Campbell, Daniel Paille, Chris Drury and Dainius Zubrus. They all left Buffalo in the following year and it was the last time the Buffalo Sabres came close to glory. Since the 2006-2007 season the Sabres have missed the playoffs 3 times and were knocked out in the first round 2 times. In this years playoffs former Sabres have accounted for 20 goals and 15 assists through the first 2 rounds (majority from Briere).
After the 2006-2007 run Darcy Regier had to make some tough decisions, chose to resign Briere and Chris Drury or run with Thomas Vanek and Derek Roy. Regier chose the latter option and the Buffalo Sabres have yet to recover from the loss of Briere and Drury, once they left other cornerstone players followed suit. Brian Campbell was traded to the Sharks (although the Sabres were able to draft Tyler Ennis with the trade), Maxim Afinogenov and Dainius Zubrus left through free agency, and Daniel Paille became the first ever player under contract to be traded to a division rival (Boston Bruins).
The Sabres lost a lot of key playoff players, Paille even won a Stanley Cup with the Bruins after the trade, Briere has been a clutch playoff player for the Flyers, and Brian Campbell has journeyed around since his departure but all have played key roles with their new teams.
He’s been nicknamed “Mr. Playoff” and rightly so Briere has been a key part of the Flyers playoff charges. Since leaving Buffalo Briere has scored 37 playoff
goals including 6 against his former team in the 2011 playoffs, in two playoff series since the Buffalo Sabres as a whole have only scored just 33 playoff goals! Every NHL team dreams of having their star players elevate their game to the next level in the postseason, but not many players are capable of elevating their games. Some players have breakout years in the playoffs and others don’t show up, but Briere has constantly taken his game to the next level when the playoffs roll around. If the Flyers want to make it to the next round they will need to rely on Briere and his veteran leadership. Since making his permanent jump to the NHL in 2000 Briere has only missed the playoffs 5 times. Briere isn’t a Gretzky or a Crosby but the teams he plays for seem to succeed, it’s only a matter of time before he wins his first Stanley Cup!
Briere has amassed 50 playoff goals and 58 assists for 108 points in the playoffs! He also holds an NHL and Philadelphia Flyers record for most points in a single playoff season with 30 from the Flyers 2010 trip to the Stanley Cup Finals!
Since leaving the Sabres as a free agent Zubrus has made himself at home with the New Jersey Devils. This is his 4th season with the Devils and he has helped them make the playoffs in all 3 prior seasons. In the game against the Flyers on Sunday night he scored two crucial goals that put a real damper on the Flyers chances of advancing to the conference finals. While Zubrus has not been one of the Devils top scorers he has provided some solid 3rd line scoring which teams need in order to win. Look at the Sabres in the first half of the season, Pominville and Vanek were virtually the only 2 players scoring on a nightly basis they had no help from the bottom 6 forwards!
A lot of Sabres fans were shocked when Regier dealt away Campbell, yes they now have Myers but the blue line is still missing some of the veteran leadership
Campbell possessed. Although Campbell’s Florida Panthers are currently out of the playoffs, he has endured great playoff success since leaving Buffalo. He won the Stanley Cup with the Chicago Blackhawks and assisted on Patrick Kane’s goal which won them the Cup. Campbell was one of the veteran leaders on the Sabres who shared the “Captain” role between several players, he’s a sound leader on the blue line and the Sabres could count on him when the game got intense! He had a great season with the Panthers, showing great veteran leadership, helping them make the playoffs and is a finalist for the Lady Byng Award.
Like Campbell, Paille won a Stanley Cup with his new club after being dealt from Buffalo. Paille isn’t a guy who will score a lot of goals for a team but he a
fantastic penalty killer and a solid role player, you wouldn’t build a team around him but you can’t have a successful team without his style of play. When the Bruins won the Stanley Cup in 2011 he was a pivotal part of the penalty kill which limited the Vancouver Canucks to just 2 power play goals! Paille will score the odd goal, but is mainly called upon for his physical play to help fire up his teammates. He’s found good chemistry with line mates Gregory Campbell and Shawn Thorton they are know to throw around the body and are the “tough” line.
What it all comes down to is the fact that former Sabres have had success in the playoffs since leaving, while the Sabres have had no success in the playoffs since 2006. So whether you’re over the Briere/Drury incidents or not bottom line is the Sabres have yet to recover form letting them go, as a result they are producing for their new teams and are making names for themselves while the Sabres can’t make the playoffs!
Caitlin is a former goaltender who turned journalist after a few too many concussions. She’s a Buffalo Sabres fan living in the hockey crazed market of Toronto. She’s spent time writing with Chat Sports, Fansided and The Fourth Period. Her work has been featured on Puck Daddy, Bleacher Report, Sports Illustrated and Grantland among others.