Here we go again, another year where the Buffalo Sabres are cleaning out their lockers in early May instead of later in the summer - who even remembers what it feels like to watch the players give their end-of-season interviews after a playoff run?
We’ve put together in one post some of the interviews from earlier today, starting with Sam Reinhart. The 25-year-old seemed revitalized playing center in the latter part of the season and finished as Buffalo’s top points-getter with 40 (25G, 15A). His 0.74 points per game is right around the mark he established the last two seasons, 0.79 and 0.72 VIDEO LINK
Is there a more polarizing player on the Sabres than Rasmus Ristolainen? The burly defenseman is equally loved and reviled for being a mediocre defender at best, but has skated by on his offensive output in previous seasons. This year, he didn’t even have that to fall back on, ending up with 0.37 ppg, after hovering around the 0.5 ppg mark his previous five seasons. VIDEO LINK
After an incredible 2018-19 campaign, Jeff Skinner regressed badly last season after being handed a monster contract. There were hopes that he would improve this season but after finding himself in Ralph Krueger’s doghouse for most of the year, he didn’t do much to elevate a mostly toothless Sabres offense shorn of Jack Eichel due to injuries. The likeable Skinner could be one of the players who is on his way out of Buffalo this summer. VIDEO LINK
Kyle Okposo is looked up at as an elder statesman in this mostly young Sabres team, and he spoke at length after yet another season that ends with his side going golfing while watching other teams competing for the Cup. The 33-year-old is nothing but stunningly consistent, going the last three seasons now with exactly 0.37 ppg. VIDEO LINK
Goaltender Linus Ullmark cemented his status as the starter after signing a one-year deal to begin 2020-21, but his future remains uncertain. In a shortened season where the Sabres cycled through approximately two dozen goalies, he presented Buffalo the best chance of winning a game - indeed, he picked up nine of the Sabres fifteen wins this season despite playing in less than half the games. VIDEO LINK
Defenseman Jake McCabe solidified his standing as one of the Sabres better players this season before sustaining a devastating knee injury in February that not only ended his season but could see him out for six to eight months. VIDEO LINK
Here’s the video we’ve all been waiting for, with Jack Eichel addressing his injury and his future in Buffalo. VIDEO LINK
For those who haven’t seen some of his comments yet, his revelations about how the team has handled his injury are positively mindblowing. Kevyn Adams, as the face of the leadership of this disenfranchizing franchise, is going to have a lot of explaining to do!
“For sure, I would say I’ve been a bit upset about the way things have been handled since I’ve been hurt. I would be lying to say that things have moved smoothly since my injury.
“So yeah, I think there’s been a bit of a disconnect I think from the organization and myself. It’s been tough at times.
“But right now for me, I think the most important thing is just trying to get healthy and figure out a way to be available to play hockey next year, where ever that might be.”
The forward gave more details on the ‘disconnect’ regarding his injury as well.
“With my injury there’s been a little bit of, I guess, one side, my own camp on one page and the team on another,” said Eichel. “That’s been tough. We’re kind of going back and forth a bit on the best way to go about it, treatment, so there’s been a few conversations but more so just about getting healthy moving forward.
“Listen, my number one interest and my number one goal is Jack Eichel, you know what I mean? You’ve got to look after yourself, you’ve got to look after what you think is best for yourself, and the organization has a similar job to do, but it’s to look after what’s best for the Buffalo Sabres. Yeah, it was tough. I think that there was a little bit of things I guess maybe just haven’t been very black and white, to put it in perspective. I think we’re all trying to educate ourselves on the situation and what would be best moving forward. So I think that, yeah, there’s been some tough conversations, but I’ve got to do what’s best for me, you know what I mean?”
Eichel still has another five years on his contract, and when asked whether he wanted out of the organization, skirted the question.
“I guess we’ll see what happens. I think there’s a lot to that question. I think, the situation I’m in right now, my main and number one focus has been to try to figure out a way to, one, be cleared to play, and two, just try and get myself in as good of condition to be ready to have a good year next year.”
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