"Guys need to be held accountable, and I think a lot of that has been lost here over the past couple years." - Mike Weber
At his final press conference during the Sabres locker cleanout day, Mike Weber dropped this gem in the middle of his interview. We all know that this season has been a massive disappointment for Sabres players and fans alike. However, the fact that Weber traces the team's lack of accountability back a number of years sheds some light on one of the reasons why the Sabres have been such a poor team, and especially poor starters, over the past three years.
Think about the names that were in Buffalo a few years ago, especially those designated to be leaders. Drury, Grier, Rivet, among others. Who were the leaders this year? Pominville, Vanek, Stafford, Ott. Out of those guys, I can only see Ott as being a vocal leader behind the scenes, or being one to call out his teammates when they weren't living up to snuff.
There's no argument that Jason Pominville was a productive player for the Sabres, but there's plenty of debate on whether or not he was a good captain. Just like a business usually takes on the characteristics of its president or CEO, so are sports teams influenced by their stars or captain, and the Sabres are a team lacking vocal stars, Ryan Miller aside.
Now, of course, we have no idea what goes on behind closed doors, so this is pure speculation. But after being in the locker room this year and listening to two year's worth of cliche-filled Pominville interviews, I have my doubts that he was the right choice for captain.
I hate to bring up you-know-who, but Weber's comments about "the past few years" draws my brain back to the last Sabres team that had great leadership. Chris Drury, who famously shut off the locker room music, led by example in the weight room after games, chewed out rookies for not blocking shots in preseason, and demanded that a picture of the Cup be put up in the locker room, was a guy who held people accountable. What's the famous Pominville leadership story? Or Vanek? Or Stafford?
I'm not saying there aren't good leaders on the Sabres team right now - Ott is a clear locker room leader, and I believe Weber himself is growing in to a leadership role. Both guys talked about how younger players must step up and be leaders themselves. However, the Sabres will need everyone in the locker room to show a bit of leadership and hold each other accountable for their offseason training, their preseason preparation, and their approach to each and every game next year if they want this rebuild to be the quick kind.