Sabres sound off on disappointing season

Posted at 12:46 PM, Apr 10, 2017
and last updated 2017-04-10 16:51:01-04

Disappointing, frustrating, upsetting, those were just a few of the adjectives the Buffalo Sabres used to describe their sixth straight season without the playoffs.

On Monday the team returned to KeyBank Center for one last time this season to clean out their lockers, meet with management and coaches and say their final goodbyes. Despite questions surrounding the future of the roster and coaching staff, the players put the blame squarely on themselves for a season where they finished just 33-37-12, finishing with three points less than they had last season [78].

"I think guys want to win but there's a difference between saying you want to win and actually wanting to win and putting the work in and dedicating your life to it," Sabres forward Jack Eichel said. "When you do that and it doesn't work it's pretty frustrating." 

Teammate Ryan O'Reilly said he personally felt like he had a terrible season and the improvement needs to start with him. 

"In the second year, to not do anything better, to not improve, we've gotta self-reflect," O'Reilly added. "It starts with myself but there are big changes that need to happen within each guy but we have to grow. You know on paper I think we're a lot better and we could've done a lot more."

Sabres captain Brian Gionta echoed O'Reilly when asked about the playoff expectations that weren't met this season.

"I thought we would've been further along, I thought we would've been a playoff team already," Gionta told reporters. "The disappointing thing is I think we should've been so that makes it even harder. Whether that's on me or not, I've got to find a way to help this team make the next step and I wasn't able to do it."

Gionta, 38, will become an unrestricted free agent on July 1 but says he'd like to return next season and help the Sabres end their playoff drought.

"I would like to see this through and find a way to take that next step and be that team that can make the playoffs," Gionta said when asked about returning. "I think we can, I think we have the guys in the room, it's just a matter of finding our way and getting there more consistently. I've felt good, I've felt good pretty much all year and I would love to continue to play and obviously, I would like it to be here."

That being said, Gionta understands his future and his teammates' for that matter aren't something that can be controlled. Tyler Ennis, who scored just 13 points in 51 games [5G, 8A] said that he doesn't know what will happen moving forward.

"I would say a lot is up in the air right now.," Ennis added. "When you have a season like this no one's job is secure and you know, you just have to fight your way through whatever comes your way."  

The majority of the Sabres will return home and begin their off-ice summer training programs. Training Camp will likely begin in mid-September.

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