BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — Sports fans here had a busy Friday.
The University at Buffalo Bulls fell just short to West Virginia in the afternoon match-up in Columbus, Ohio. The Sabres — suddenly surging during the month of March — took to the ice at 7 p.m.
But fans of both clubs who talked to News 4 were looking for different outcomes.
“I am firmly for the tank,” said Sabres fan Ryan Haggerty, while enjoying an afternoon beverage at Thirsty Buffalo. “The Buffalo Sabres need to do everything they can to lose every last game that they play.”
Not so fast, others say.
“I don’t think they’re tanking,” said lifelong fan Bill Shylo. “They just don’t have the ability yet.”
The Sabres find themselves in the basement of the NHL, three points behind Arizona going into Friday’s game against New Jersey.
But for some fans, last place is the sweet spot, especially this time of year.
“I need them to close, to lose as much as they possibly can,” said Matt Faso.
And by close, he means lose out.
Here’s why losses are so critical: If the Sabres finish the season in last place, they’re guaranteed one of two upcoming studs in the NHL Draft, in Connor McDavid or Jack Eichel.
“You’d hate to see us not end up with one of those two players after this season,” said David Shatzel, a season ticket holder and part owner of Coles on Elmwood Avenue.
And though many agree that coming to fruition includes a giant white flag, others disagree.
“It’s not good. You should never root against your team,” said Emily Cleary, of Orchard Park. “It’s poor form and poor taste. You should always root for them. They’re getting paid to do it, you’re paying to go to the games”
Some of the same fans hoping for a UB win in the afternoon, said they’d be cheering for a Sabres loss that night. And no time like Friday was that difference more evident.
“I think it’s all part of the Buffalo sports experience that you’re constantly in tension with what you want to see happen ultimately with what you need to happen to get there,” Haggerty said.