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What we learned on locker clean-out day

O’Reilly said he lost his love of the game at times this season

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The Buffalo Sabres had their annual locker clean-out day on Monday, and it was once again a chance for player to express their feelings and comment on the season as a whole.

With another last-place finish, it’s not a complete surprise that many of the players were upset and disappointed in themselves. What was most alarming perhaps was what Ryan O’Reilly had to say.

That first part is not something you want to hear from one of your supposedly core players, but after Paul Hamilton asked him if he needed a change of scenery, O’Reilly said he loves Buffalo and needs to improve his game.

“We’re stuck with this mindset of being okay with losing. It’s sad.” – O’Reilly

Antipin doesn’t recall hit

Antipin said he doesn’t remember being hit, but he does recall waking up on the ice after the hit.

Antipin has since watched replays of the hit on television, but doesn’t believe that it warranted a suspension, agreeing with the NHL Player Safety Department.

He also said that he has not committed to any plans next year, referring to the decision of playing in the KHL or NHL.

Casey Mittelstadt

In six games this season, Mittelstadt recorded five points (one goal, four assists). By signing a deal, he burned the first year of his entry-level contract. Mittelstadt said he enjoyed his first NHL experience and is very confident moving forward.

“I learned some things I can work on this summer. I’m pretty confident in myself. I believed I could come up and play. At the same time I have to keep a level head, not get too high or too low.” – Mittelstadt

World Junior Championships

A few players were asked if they were going to participate in the upcoming worlds.

Mittelstadt will play for USA and Ryan O’Reilly will play for Canada.

Jack Eichel said he would not play because he needs to get his body right. His focus is on getting better as a player for next season

Sam Reinhart also said he wouldn’t play for Canada, but that’s because his contract is currently up. There’s no sense in risking any injury right now.

Rasmus Ristolainen was asked if he’d participate and he said no.

Quick hits

“I’m invested in this city and this organization. I’m here for a while. Things will get better and it starts with me.” – Eichel

“We need to change the mindset. You have to go into games thinking you’ll win every game. And if you don’t win, eh, that’s fine, we’ll win the next one. It starts with habits and the foundation of our work.” – Okposo

“From top to bottom, everyone needs to change. I want to be a leader. I want to learn from our top guys and be one of them.” – Ristolainen

We’ve heard these types of comments all season. The players know they need to be better and they’ve recognized that. The problem is that they’re just words and this is not translating to performance, at least not consistently. Hopefully, a few changes this offseason and a fresh start next season can help change some of that.

“We need to change the mindset. You have to go into games thinking you’ll win every game. And if you don’t

“We can learn from the past, obviously we can’t change it. What we can change is going forward and preparing for training camp. Next season, we’re going to get right to work, and it’s going to be a tough camp.” – Phil Housley

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