Rinse and repeat: Sabres veteran players frustrated with losing as the playoff drought continues


Buffalo Sabres forward Sam Reinhart (23) celebrates his second goal during the third period of an NHL hockey game against the Pittsburgh Penguins, Sunday, April 18, 2021, in Buffalo, N.Y. (AP Photo/Jeffrey T. Barnes)

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – It’s another Sabres season-ending press conference with a veteran player frustrated with losing.

Rinse and repeat.

As the Sabres have now missed the playoffs for ten straight seasons, this core group of players has yet to play in the postseason. Jack Eichel, Sam Reinart and Rasmus Ristolainen are just to name a few that haven’t even come close to playing in a playoff game during their career.

“It’s almost tougher this year for me personally feeling good towards the end of the year and feeling like my game was in a good place and to not be playing any meaningful games down the stretch and in the playoffs it’s definitely disappointing right now,” Reinhart said on Monday during his season-ending zoom call.

Reinhart was one of the bright spots this season and stepped up in a big way after Eichel’s season-ending neck injury. He finished the season with 25 goals (matching his career-high) and 40 points in 54 games.

But once again he’s on a team that finished dead last that has his future with the Sabres up in the air. Reinhart is a restricted free agent and one year away from unrestricted free agency.

“In terms of the future don’t really have much for you right now. I’m gonna take some time and that’s stuff all gonna get figured out when the time comes,” Reinhart explained.

It’s hard to picture Reinhart back with Buffalo next season but if he is it doesn’t seem like he’d want to sign a long-term deal. The losing and “moral victories” have taken a toll on the 2014 second overall pick.

“Honestly there’s not much to take right now [from this season]. Just another year, it’s disappointing right now you know not really looking to be in the business just to be in games,” Reinhart said.

Not to mention there’s turmoil with Eichel and the organization on how they went about treatment with his neck injury. Eichel said there’s been a “disconnect” with how to move forward with the herniated disk in his neck, essentially saying the team does not want him to have surgery while he does.

On top of it all, the Sabres are now in the middle of another coaching change after Ralph Krueger was fired in March. Even though there’s been improvement under interim head coach Don Granato, this coaching carousel is still yet another example of the inconsistency and failure to get the right guy behind the bench.

“You know it’s not an easy situation making that change. You guys know we were going through some pretty tough time. It’s unfortunate that in this business you almost need to kind of reset, it’s just unfortunate for me being here how often that reset is,” Reinhart said.

Ristolainen who’s in the same situation, said he can’t go through another rebuild and you can’t blame these guys for feeling that way.

“No one wants to go through a rebuild you know especially going into next year you know turning 26 at the start of it or close to the start of it. It’s tough not being able to play meaningful games down the stretch and I don’t think anyone wants to go through that, no,” Reinhart said.

These core players have come up in trade rumors for years now and it seems like it’s only a matter of time before those rumors become reality.

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