All photos courtesy of Adam Benigni
Last July when the Buffalo Sabres signed Christian Ehrhoff, Ville Leino and traded for Robyn Regehr, almost every fan of the Sabres expected a playoff berth this season.
Nine months later, the Sabres have cleaned out their lockers after falling short of the playoffs for the third time in the last five seasons.
While the Sabres were making an improbable push to the playoffs after being one of the worst teams in the Eastern Conference, things behind the scenes seemed to be crumbling.
“To be pointing fingers right now is obviously tough,” said Derek Roy. “Behind closed doors, I think it’s fine. You can be hard. It’s not fun, but its’s good to be hard on your players behind closed doors, on the bench to get them pumped up. I’m not a coach but I don’t think you should be saying it to the media.”
If you recall correctly, Roy had been recovering from a torn hamstring tendon heading into this season. He also stated that it may be some time before his hamstring is 100 percent.
Heading around the Sabres locker room, the thoughts of a wasted season seemed to be the same throughout the team.
“We just lacked mental toughness and finish,” said Christian Ehrhoff.
“It feels like a wasted season,” said Jason Pominville. “Another year goes by, and we’re not where we want to be.”
“For us that have been here for awhile, it’s more disappointing,” said Thomas Vanek. “We’re here to lead this team, and we failed.”
“We finished the year very well,” said Tyler Myers. “It’s not a good feeling leaving the year like this.”
“Missing the playoffs is quite embarrassing,” said Ryan Miller. “The only solace I take from it is that we didn’t quit.”
Miller also went on to say that missing the playoffs is “on everybody, every single person in this organization.”
Stafford went on to add that this season was a “mentally draining year.”
A few Sabres players also set the record straight on their injuries. Tyler Myers revealed he was dealing with a hairline fracture in his foot, while Christian Ehrhoff told the media that he was dealing with a sprained knee. Both players would’ve missed the first round had the Sabres advanced that far.
Thomas Vanek, who had appeared to be playing hurt for most of the second-half of the season, refused to detail any injuries because he did not want to make any excuses for this season.
Vanek went on to say that he was unable to find his game throughout the second-half of the season.
Here’s a thought, from Buffalo News reporter John Vogl, that puts these past five seasons into perspective.
Heading into another disappointing offseason, the direction of the franchise continues to be uncertain. Will there be a shake-up in the front office? Will there be a few big trades to shake up the current core? Nobody knows at this point but the Sabres obviously need to tinker with a few things in the organization, so that should create for a very busy and interesting offseason.