Why Celebrate Active Ex-Players?

A visit from the Minnesota Wild on a Monday night is hardly the stuff of legend in Buffalo.

Wild vs Sabres is not exactly a match up that screams ‘rivalry’; nor are the Sabres ‘lighting it up’ right now – in fact they were still winless before Minnesota rolled in to town, and they were still winless afterwards…

But the Sabres came in for a little heat for not honouring former Captain and fan favourite Jason Pominville.

Jason Pominville

Pominville was drafted by the Sabres in 2001. He went on to play 578 games for them before being traded to Minnesota at the deadline last year. The handy winger also wore the C in Buffalo and contributed 185 goals on the ice as well as a whole heap of time to local charities off it.

He was, I think it is clear, a man the people of Buffalo could easily love – and to be fair, they did.

Monday marked the first time Pominville had played in Buffalo since the trade.

There was no fan fare, no jumbotron montage, no slow moving stills set to string quartet music and no in game clips of him on the bench. And Buffalo took shots from all angles for it.

Former Sabre Matt Barnaby called it “embarrassing”, while Mike Harrington of the Buffalo News said the franchise passed up a chance to be classy and instead were “clueless”. Harrington certainly pulled few punches in his post game comments.

But Pominville is now an ex-Sabre. He is an opposing player. I don’t understand why any club would want to pay tribute to an opposing player?

I accept there may be one or two asterisks here; Teemu Selanne in Winnipeg for example, where the Finn seems to enjoy Saint like status. But Pominville, as much of a ‘good guy’ he seems to be and all, is now an opposing player.

I have no issue with stars of the past being honoured. If Dominik Hasek or Rob Ray were in attendance, then I think we can all understand a little bit of nostalgia. But Pominville came to town to BEAT the Sabres – he did in fact score the winning goal, and get 1st Star in the game.

Why would an organisation want to glorify an opponent? Surely every team wants its home rink to be a ‘fortress’? As much as every NHL rink is happy to let fans mingle (a major plus point of the sport in many, many ways), the Sabres will still want the First Niagara Center to be all about the men in navy blue; not one guy in white and green.

Some have said it was not so much about the Sabres honouring Pominville, but the fans getting their chance to salute him – a 30 second video montage for them to applaud or similar. Except, they did get a chance to applaud; Pominville was announce in the starting line up; people clapped and cheered. Surely that is enough? They even got a second chance to salute their former Captain at the end courtesy of the aforementioned 1st Star award.

Naturally there will be some affinity between fans and some former players, but to expect an organisation to celebrate a man who has turned up to beat them?

There were opportunities for those fans who felt the urge to honour Pominville to do so; to slam the Sabres for not pumping the tyres of someone who doesn’t wear the jersey anymore is ridiculous.


About Rob

Software engineer by day, Elite League Media man by night, Rob also blogs about cricket for One Stump Short, hockey for In Goal Magazine and video games for Outpost Delta as well as hosting the One Stump Short Podcast.

Posted on October 16, 2013, in Hockey, NHL and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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