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Buffalo Sabres Season Recap: The Ugly

With their season over and after a few days to collect our thoughts, it’s time to recap the good, the bad, and the ugly of the 2011-2012 Buffalo Sabres season. We’ve already explored what went right, and what went wrong, but today it’s all about what was just plain terrible.

Ville Leino. You knew we had to get here eventually, so let’s just rip the band-aid off as fast as possible so the healing can begin. Leino was a definitive bust this season after signing a lucrative contract in the offseason that had many teams (especially the Flyers) snickering at the Sabres, and in hindsight, deservedly so. Big Ville Style managed to make even a mockery of his cool nickname by only scoring 8 goals this season in 71 games, and led the Sabres in “most average puck possession time immediately resulting in a turnover,” a stat which I just made up but which every Sabre fan agrees with.

Leino talked at the end of the season about how it was a difficult year for him, switching, teams, positions, and linemates more often than most, but for an emerging player who was signed to be a top 6 center, his season was a colossal disappointment. The bad news is that the Sabres are on the hook for five more seasons at $4.5 million per, but the eternal optimist would say, “Well there’s no way he can be worse next year, right? Right?”

The 12 game road losing streak. In the middle of the season, the Buffalo Sabres set a new franchise record for consecutive road losses. I’m no hockey expert, but it’s pretty tough to make the playoffs when that happens. Think about this: the Sabres finished 4 points out of the postseason – if they go 2-10-0 instead of 0-12-0 in those games, they make the dance. At the end of the season, many players talked about not being mentally tough enough, and this mid-season disaster is a perfect example of that.

Players calling out coaches. Both Derek Roy and Ville Leino revealed to the media that they had problems with the way Lindy Ruff treated them, whether it was calling them out in public or not giving them enough playing time. Players and coaches won’t always see eye to eye, and after a frustrating finish there’s likely more venom between both parties, but it’s never fun to see two parts of the same team that aren’t clicking. However, the more concerning angle of this story is whether or not Ruff has lost touch with his players and whether or not his message is getting stale. Lindy will start next season as the Sabres head coach, but how will he keep his 15 year old message fresh to his veteran players?

When you add it all up, there was more bad than good this year for the Sabres. Have some thoughts of your own? Did we forget anything? Let us know in the comments.

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