Buffalo fans embrace tanking, cheer for Coyotes over Sabres
The Buffalo Sabres are the worst team in the NHL, and for now, their fans are happy to cheer for opponent goals if that’s what it takes to get them the top overall pick in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft.
The Sabres lost to the Arizona Coyotes, 4-3, in overtime Thursday, which isn’t surprising in itself for a team that’s now lost 46 games and has just 48 points on the season, but their home crowd’s reaction to the loss sure was.
“I’ve always spoken extremely high of our fans,” Sabres defenseman Mike Weber said. “I don’t even know if disappointed is the word....They scored the first one, our fans are cheering. Late penalty, they cheer. They cheer when they score to win the game. I don’t even know what to say. It’s extremely frustrating for us.”
The Sabres (20-46-8) are making a beeline for the top pick in June’s draft, with center Connor McDavid, 18, of the Ontario Hockey League considered to be the most talented player in the draft.
Behind him, forward Jack Eichel out of Boston College, who is averaging 1.83 goals per game, is the next best available player.
Either one could be franchise changing, and for a team with little to cheer for, who can blame the fans for embracing the tank.
“I’ve never been a part of that,” Weber said. “Whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, I guess. But this is a whole new low right now.”
It wasn’t exactly comfortable for the Coyotes (23-44-8), who are also in the lottery for the top pick.
“It was weird,” Arizona defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson said.
Follow Matt Wilhalme on Twitter @mattwilhalme
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