The Buffalo Sabres and Phoenix Coyotes are the two teams with the worst records in the NHL. On Thursday night, those two teams faced each other in Buffalo. Yet, the cheers from the crowd made it seem like a home game for the Coyotes.
Why? Because Buffalo fans want their team to finish last. The way the NHL draft lottery works, the team with the worst record is guaranteed one of the top two picks. That team would then have an opportunity to draft either Connor McDavid or Jack Eichel, two of the best NHL prospects in years.
That’s why Sabres fans booed when their team tied the game at 3-3 with less than four minutes remaining it regulation. It’s also why they reacted positively when Sam Gagner scored the game-winning goal in overtime. Sabres defenseman Mike Weber was disgusted with it.
“I’ve always spoken extremely high of our fans,” Weber said, as transcribed by Barry Petchesky of Deadspin. “I don’t even know if disappointed is the word. They score that first one, 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.”
Sabres fans even took the liberty of labeling Thursday night’s game “Tank Night.” Many of them held up signs with tanks on them while others taped Coyotes logos to the front of their Sabres jerseys.