Ryan O’Reilly sounds off on ‘pathetic’ Buffalo Sabres season

Watch as Sidney Crosby spears Ryan O'Reilly from behind in the groin.

A couple of weeks ago, Ryan O’Reilly was whacked in the groin by Sidney Crosby. O’Reilly hit the ice in pain, unsure of what happened. Crosby avoided a penalty and the Sabres lost the game. In many ways that play represents how this season has gone for the Buffalo Sabres.

After finishing dead last in the NHL in 2014-15, the team hired Dan Bylsma, went out and acquired the likes of O’Reilly, Evander Kane and Robin Lehner. Rookies Jack Eichel and Sam Reinhart made a significant impact and Rasmus Ristolainen had a breakout campaign, emerging as one of the top young blueliners in the NHL.

All that contributed to a 27-point improvement in the standings in 2015-16, which resulted in elevated expectations heading into 2016-17. Unfortunately for O’Reilly and Sabres fans, the team has regressed and hasn’t been close to a playoff spot for months.

“It’s so disappointing. It’s so frustrating coming to the rink right now. Practising, there’s no purpose right now,” O’Reilly said Wednesday via Joe Yerdon. “You’re seeing other teams gearing up for the playoffs and seeing teams, like a Toronto who’s young, too, seeing them in the spot we should be in—it’s very frustrating. I’m sick of losing. It’s getting exhausting and it’s not fun. It sucks the fun out of the game.”


O’Reilly led the Sabres in points last year and is putting up similar numbers this season, but overall he’s miffed over how everything has unfolded. He isn’t simply pointing the finger, he takes some of the blame.

“Your first year it’s all right [missing the playoffs] because there are so many new faces and you can see it took a while for guys to get used to each other in playing, but then this year you start to get things going and you fall back into old habits again and our old ways,” O’Reilly said before adding he deserves some blame. “Being a leader, a lot of it falls on me, but to do it two years in a row like this and not go anywhere and not get any better it’s pathetic. It’s so frustrating and things have got to change.”

Players on teams that have been eliminated from playoff contention don’t have much to play for at this point in the season besides pride and possibly making enough of an impression to earn a spot on their countries’ world championship rosters. O’Reilly said he’s sick of being asked about the worlds because, clearly, he’d rather be preparing for a playoff run.

“We’ve got three games left here and we’ve got to prove something at least to ourselves,” he added.

The Sabres host the Montreal Canadiens Wednesday. You can watch the game on Sportsnet with coverage beginning at 7 p.m. ET.

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