Last season as the Sabres cleaned out their lockers…there was hope.
There was a certain sense of optimism as Buffalo seemed to be coming out of a rebuilding phase. In Dan Byslma’s first season as head coach, the Sabres went from 51 points in 2015 to 81 points in 2016.
365 days later and the Sabres have taken a step back and look to be a crossroads to keep going or change directions.
Words like “disappointed” and “self-reflecting” were used as players talked for the last time before heading into their sixth summer in a row without the playoffs, which is a franchise record.
Now the organization will face some tough questions on whether or not to bring back their captain Brian Gionta who just finished his 15th season in the league.
The Rochester native made it clear he still wants to play and wants it to be in western New York.
“I think we have the guys in the room, its just a matter of finding our way and just getting there more consistently so I felt good, I felt good pretty much all year and I would love to continue to play and obviously it to be here,” said Gionta.
His teammates agree.
“To be honest I think he was probably our most consistent players. That’s the way he is, he shows up everyday and works. We need more of that and I really hope he does comeback,” said Ryan O’Reilly”
“To me even last night the way he played, he’s still got it and he still has that burning desire inside of him and I hope he’s back,” add Zach Bogosian
Giona is set to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1st.
Questions are also out there on whether or not GM Tim Murray should bring back head coach Dan Bylsma as the Sabres finished 7-13-2 to end their season after their bye week.
“We fell short of where we thought we could be, hoped we could be. It’s going to be a process, were in that process of developing a winning culture and a winning team but it’s one I have to be judged on,” said Bylsma