Vulgar Opinons: The Draft – NHL Void
People are finding out all over Twitter today that the Rochester Amerks are set to play a game at the First Niagara Center tomorrow at 7:05 against the Grand Rapids Griffins. Now please wait while I congratulate myself for publicizing this event more than the Sabres (or Amerks) have. It’s especially damning when the Sabres themselves are a cauldron of failure and the players on the Amerks are about the only real reason to be legitimately hopeful for the franchise heading into the future.
Many have pointed out (perhaps most notably @MattyRenn) that the Sabres’ current social media strategy is to humanize the players they have in an effort to stem the strong disdain for their hockey abilities. That’s fine, and it does well to remind the fanbase (especially this fanbase) that players that are in over their heads like Mike Weber and John Scott are, at the end of the day, still human beings. But “these guys are good people” isn’t enough for most fans to want to stick around, especially when their reason for showing up in the first place is to watch the hockey.
How far back in the Sabres’ Twitter feed do you think you’d have to go to find something, anything, on one of the team’s high level prospects like Grigorenko, Zadorov, Ristolainen, Armia, or Compher? If your guess was four days, to February third, when the team tweeted once about Grigorenko and Zadorov (the only tweet mentioning any of the above since January), you would be correct. And granted, a majority of people get their prospects news from Kris Baker who does a fantastic job, but there’s no reason there can’t be significant overlap in what Baker and the team’s official account tweet about. Considering that the team is so god f***ing awful and that most fans have tuned them out to a large degree no matter what how much of BFFs Steve Ott and Mike Weber are, I would posit that the team has a significant interest in making sure that fans are on the edge of their seats watching these guys develop because quite frankly there isn’t any other reason to care about the Sabres unless you have an interest in statistically impressive futility and dumb guy game management. (Some of us do.)
The team, as I recall, put forth a good effort to pimp the NHL Draft, and for good reason, those players are the future of the franchise, especially one that has comprised the majority of its roster of its own draft picks over the last decade. But the team shouldn’t let those players largely disappear between draft day and their NHL debut, especially when the club is going to rot away in the basement of the league while playing the most uninteresting hockey imaginable. If you really want to be Hockey Heaven, you don’t want your fans getting their first introduction to those guys when they’re in the NHL for good, you want your fans to know exactly who and what they are long before that time comes. You want them sharing AHL and CHL and WJC highlights on Twitter and Facebook. You want them excited.
Otherwise you’re a bad franchise with a promising future that no one know about as you let said future play in front of a Coyotes-esque crowd in the big building. And that’s just sad.