BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — On the brink of breaking the longest postseason drought in NHL history with the league’s youngest lineup a year ago, the Sabres begin a new season with a strong belief that better days are ahead.
“We have to embrace expectations,” general manager Kevyn Adams said Wednesday as the Sabres opened training camp. “I look at pressure as a privilege.”
Under pressure to make the playoffs for the first time in 13 seasons, the Sabres have set higher expectations for themselves.
“When I think about playoffs, our expectation of course is there but, honestly, our expectation is to win the Stanley Cup,” Adams said. “I think our window’s open right now and our goal is to be giving ourselves a chance every single year.”
Buffalo captain Kyle Okposo declared the Sabres “can’t be scared of expectations” when he re-signed with the club over the summer.
“Last year, there was no expectations,” Okposo said. “And everybody’s writing rosy articles, this group is a good team, it’s becoming a good team. And that’s great. But how you do that with expectations?
“There’s guys that are starting to get bigger contracts. There’s guys that are starting to get noticed nationally. There’s going to be lofty expectations next year. And I think that we can’t run from that.
“You have to set your goal. And should or goal be to make the playoffs? And should our goal be to be two points better than we were this year? No, let’s accept it. Let’s accept it now.
“And so you set the goal of winning a Stanley Cup. And then you don’t touch that, and you don’t let that weight you down at all from the day to day of the season. You set that goal, and you know that it’s there. And then you take it a day at a time, and you get better.”
Before the Sabres can contend for a Stanley Cup, they must put themselves in the postseason picture after skating along the edges last season, and finishing one win short of claiming the final playoff spot in the East.
“To win the Stanley Cup you have to win four rounds in the playoffs,” Adams explained. “To win four rounds in the playoffs, you have to make the playoffs. To make the playoffs, you have to win a lot of hockey games. To win a lot of hockey games during the season, you have to be a consistent team, a resilient team, a team that is able to handle adversity, highs and lows, matures. Those are the things that add up.”
Jonah Bronstein joined the WIVB squad in 2022 as a digital sports reporter. The Buffalonian has covered the Bills, Sabres, Bandits, Bisons, colleges, high schools and other notable sporting events in Western New York since 2005, for publications including The Associated Press, The Buffalo News, and Niagara Gazette. Read more of his work here.