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Sabres' bandwagon just idling

You're not digging your Buffalo Sabres right now, are you?

You are angry, confused and disillusioned by the Sabres' inability -- or unwillingness -- to retain co-captains Chris Drury and Daniel Briere.

Your hurt feelings are understandable. You have poured your heart out for this team, especially over the past two seasons when the Sabres had everyone in this town harboring Stanley Cup dreams.

Suddenly, that dream has become a nightmare. You are mad. You want to storm the Sabres' offices and voice your disapproval. I hear some of you are planning to boycott games next year.

I'll believe that when I see it.

You might not want anything to do with the Sabres right now, but you'll come back to them. You always do.

Come October, you will flock to HSBC Arena in droves. You'll go back to wearing your Sabres jerseys and putting those Sabres flags on your cars.

There are no fans quite like Buffalo fans. Few have experienced the pain and disappointment that you have, given the legacy of postseason failures by your beloved sports teams.

Yet you always seem to display the same resiliency of those teams. The despair you felt from the previous year is replaced by optimism as the new season approaches.

That's why I know you will be back. It's how you are, Buffalo fans. It's a part of your DNA.

I know these words don't make you feel any better about what transpired over the weekend. Losing players of Drury's and Briere's caliber is difficult to stomach, especially since it could have easily been avoided had the Sabres, as Drury said, acted with a little more urgency.

But in time, you'll accept the fact that Drury and Briere are now former Sabres. You'll cherish the memories and then you will move on.

How do I know this? Because I've seen you do it so many times.

Take the Buffalo Bills, for example. The offseason departures of linebackers Takeo Spikes and London Fletcher, cornerback Nate Clements and running back Willis McGahee didn't create as much outrage as Drury and Briere leaving, but many Bills faithful are concerned about losing a huge part of their veteran core.

Spikes and Fletcher in particular were the Drury and Briere of the Bills. They were the unquestioned leaders, the guys who set the tone on and off the field.

When the Bills lost those players, a lot of you thought the team was headed in reverse. And what was your response? You went out and bought practically every ticket for next season.

Many of you now believe Marshawn Lynch will be an upgrade over McGahee. You think Paul Posluszny will fill Fletcher's shoes. You expect the voids left by Spikes and Clements will be filled.

Above all, many of you are convinced that this is the season the Bills get to scratch that seven-year playoff itch.

Some of this may be pure fantasy, but optimism runs rampant in Bills Nation this time of the year.

When hockey season rolls around, you'll feel the same way about your Sabres. I suspect you'll be uttering things like, "Yeah, Drury and Briere are gone, but we'll be OK. We still have enough talent to make another championship run. Go Sabres!"

So go ahead and vent. Hate the Sabres all you want. But you'll love them again. You always do.

e-mail: awilson@buffnews.com

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