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Buffalo Sabres GM Jason Botterill isn’t happy. Neither is owner Terry Pegula. They have no reason to be.
The first-year Sabres GM addressed the media during his season ending press conference that was held at KeyBank Center, Wednesday afternoon.
“(Terry’s) level of anger is fairly high. Its high and i don’t blame him,” Botterill said. “I’ve been here one year and I guess I could be articulate but I’ll say it sucks. We won’t be watching live playoff hockey. It’ll all be on TV. Because we do have all the resources to have success. Whether it’s the (HarborCenter) across the street. (Impact) Sports Performance program. Coaches. Skills coaches. It’s all here for success.”
From the word go Botterill states that he is still 100 percent behind first-year head coach Phil Housley and that Phil will be back next season. With every sentence Botterill spoke you could tell he was extremely unhappy with this season’s results. “We finished in 31st and we deserved to finish 31st,” he said.
Botterill knew full well that he was coming into a situation of an organization that was in trouble. He said that he noticed that atmosphere of losing, but didn’t realize just how badly the Sabres has lost their way. “Right now we have a losing culture,” Botterill said.
“We haven’t won here. It’s up to Phil and I to work with our players. To work through that to make sure we change our culture.”
Botterill’s comments about the losing culture came on the heels of being asked about Ryan O’Reilly’s candid comments during Monday’s locker room clean out. Among the most shocking was that O’Reilly confessed that at times during the season he has lost his love for hockey. While some fans were outraged by what O’Reilly said the GM said he completely understood the level of frustration and disappointment O’Reilly was expressing.
“Well first off I think he gave you an honest opinion and in today’s sports world that’s a little bit unique,” Botterill said. “When you look at Ryan he was a big part of our team. He played hard throughout the entire season, but it’s also an emotional game. And when you don’t win. When you don’t get the results that you want it can be really draining on a player. And what he said is probably indicative of a lot of players in our organization.”
Botterill was happy with the strides that he saw from younger players like Sam Reinhart and Casey Nelson. As well as the growth he saw in Jack Eichel’s ability to lead. “He’s matured a lot as a young man,” Botterill said. Botterill stated that with so much parody in the league teams can turn their fortunes around quicker in a relatively short amount of time. But that culture change must change now.
“There certainly has to be changes,” Botterill said. “And there will be changes.”
The Sabres also announced the signing of forward Alex Oglevie to a three-year, entry level deal. Oglevie scored 89 points in 107 games with the Notre Dame Fighting Irish.