Buffalo Sabres Fans Cheer For Arizona Coyotes, Is It Wrong?


On Thursday night the two worst teams (points wise) in the NHL faced off against each other when Arizona Coyotes took on the Buffalo Sabres. NHL fans dubbed it the “Tank Bowl”. The idea being that the Coyotes and Sabres are losing, or tanking, in order to secure a top pick in the upcoming Entry Draft.

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It’s been apparent for quite some time now which teams would be finishing at the bottom of league. With Connor McDavid projected to be the first pick, and expected to be a future super star of the NHL compared to the likes of Sydney Crosby, getting that first pick is a big deal. The only thing left to be decided, is who will finish last.

In the NHL, finishing last doesn’t secure a team that first pick. The first pick of the draft is awarded to teams via a lottery system. While finishing last doesn’t guarantee a team that first pick, it does increase their chances of winning the lottery. Finishing 30th gives the team a 20% chance at winning the top pick.

Now, back to Thursday night. Prior to the game, the Coyotes and Sabres were separated by only five points in the standings. The game was played in Buffalo, and as the Coyotes scored, the arena erupted in cheers. The crowd cheered when the Sabres took penalties giving Arizona power plays. Most notable though, was how loud the arena got when Sam Gagner scored the game winning goal for Arizona.

This begs the question, is cheering for your team to lose wrong? Sabres Defenseman, Mike Weber thinks so, and he wasn’t afraid to express himself. After the game, Weber told reporters,

"“I’ve always spoken extremely high of our fans. I don’t even know if disappointed is the word. They score that first one and 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. This is extremely frustrating for us. We don’t want to be here. We understand where we are. We understand what this team’s doing, what the organization’s doing, the place we’ve put ourselves in. I’ve never been a part of something like that, where the away team comes into a home building and they’re cheering for them. Again, I respect our fans. I love our fans. I show up to work everyday to whatever I can for them, and to play hard for them and my teammates… Again, I’ve never seen that before. I don’t know what else to say.”“This is two years in a row now. Physically, mentally, this sucks. To compound things, you have your home fans cheering against you.”"

It’s a two sided issue, the player’s side and the fan’s side. For the players, this is their job. They may be on bad teams, but they are playing for jobs next season and of course, their pride.

For the fans, they want to see their team win. That’s not to say that the players don’t want to win, but the fans are going to be with their favorite team longer than most players will play for the team and in this case, losing is what is in the best interest of these team’s futures, losing is winning.

A fan is not disloyal to their team for wanting them to acquire a player of McDavid’s caliber. If anything, they are extremely loyal. They are willing to sit through the hard times of constant losing because they know it will make their team better. Through pain will come pleasure right?

Should fans that fill an arena loudly and obnoxiously cheer against the home team for this? Probably not, it’s disrespectful to blatantly flaunt that in the player’s faces. Be that as it may, and as distasteful as it is, if someone pays to enter the arena, they can cheer for whatever team they want.

The Coyotes and Sabres will meet again on Monday at Gila River Arena for the second and final time this season. I highly doubt Coyotes fans will be cheering for the Sabres, but it will be an interesting game to watch after the events of Thursday night.

Next: Is Sean Burke Leaving The Arizona Coyotes?