It’s not February yet, and the Buffalo Sabres are dead and buried for another season. ‘Twas ever thus, an excellent hockey market stocked with long suffering fans, underserviced in 2018 the way they were in ’17, ’16, ’15…

The Sabres, an Original 14 franchise that has never drank from the Stanley Cup, arrive in Edmonton for Tuesday night’s game after a 2-1 overtime win in Calgary, their first win in Cowtown since 2003. They are last in the Eastern Conference, six points behind the next best team (Ottawa).

The National Hockey League, it seems, has perfected the art of keeping a Buffalo in the basement. The Sabres will likely finish last in their Division for the fifth time in six seasons.

Owner Terry Pegula and his wife Kim, who is active in assessing employees of both the Sabres and Buffalo Bills, their other team, changed out management last summer when they installed new general manager Jason Botterill and head coach Phil Housley. Both are in their positions for the first time, which might be fine if this weren’t one of the toughest nuts to crack in the entire NHL, from a management perspective.

We spent the day Monday talking to people close to the Sabres. It’s a laundry list of issues, but hey, it’s never one or two things that digs a hole the depth of the one this franchise finds itself in.