Considering how often the word "tanking" has been thrown around when discussing the Arizona Coyotes or Buffalo Sabres this season, their final matchup of the season on Thursday was quite an intriguing event.
Even though the players on both teams (owners of the worst two records in the NHL right now) might not actually be tanking to draft Connor McDavid or Jack Eichel in this summer's draft, their fans have certainly embraced the idea. Buffalo fans were actually cheering when the Coyotes scored on their home team throughout the night. When the Sabres got a penalty late in the third, the fans cheered.
And when the Coyotes ultimately won the game in overtime, Sabres fans cheered at their team's loss.
This obviously did not go over well with the Sabres players, who are still playing for pride and paychecks at this point in the season. Defenseman Mike Weber spoke out after the game and expressed some deep disappointment with Buffalo fans.
Here's a transcript:
"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...
"This is two years in a row now. Physically, mentally, this sucks. To compound things, you have your home fans cheering against you. Again, I've never been a part of that. Obviously, what doesn't kill ya makes you stronger, I guess. But this is a whole new low right now."
Weber's sentiments are a good reminder that while embracing failure to look to the future might help ease the pain for fans, the players still have to endure the psychological toll every night.