When Jason Botterill was hired as the Sabres general manager he said he wanted to build two teams. One in Buffalo and one in Rochester that, ‘would be highly competitive year in and year out.”
He got one out of two.
Eleven months later the Sabres finished dead last in the NHL and Botterill didn’t hold back his frustrations at his end of the year press conference.
“I guess I could be articulate but I’ll just say. It sucks.”
In a season that was nothing short of a total failure there was a silver lining, and it was in Rochester.
The Amerks finished the season with 91 points, the most since 2010 and made the playoffs for the first time in four years.
“[Botterill] has been uplifting about what we’ve been here and the opportunity we’ve had to be a bright-spot,” said Justin Bailey.
“Developing and getting to the playoffs at the same time is great. That’s what we want and that’s what we want to create around here,” smiled first-year head coach, Chris Taylor.
With all eyes solely focused on Rochester, the Amerks know that team success can lead to individual opportunities.
“Guys are playing for contracts,” said Nick Baptiste. “I’m a guy trying to solidify my spot for next season in buffalo. I think that’s something I’ve obviously look forward to doing and I think if I can help lead this team and be a big part of this team moving forward in this playoff run, it bodes well for me come next season.”
“That’s the benefit of making the playoffs. There’s going to be a lot of different people watching these guys play and it benefits them in the long run,” added Taylor.
“‘They definitely put a lot of stock in the playoffs for sure. The farther we go the better chance a lot of us have of being there full-time next year,” said Brendan Guhle.
“Guys can up there stock wherever that may be. At the same time it will help our team the better everyone plays,” said Bailey.
Everyone in Rochester is proud to carry the flag for the organization in April, and hopefully deep into May. Taylor knows that a long playoff run can energize an entire franchise.
“It starts here. You build from the bottom up. That’s how all the great organizations do it. Like the Pittsburgh Penguins and Scranton-Wilkes Barre.”