"Listen, I'm fed up with the losing and I'm fed up and I'm frustrated." — Jack Eichel, Buffalo Sabres captain, May 28, 2020.
"If I think [about] my whole career in Buffalo and before I came to Buffalo, I'm not sure if I've ever been [part of] a team where's there's been a winning culture." — Rasmus Ristolainen, Buffalo Sabres defenseman, May 28, 2020.
Eichel and Ristolainen made those remarks after learning their club failed to qualify for this summer's 24-team NHL playoff tournament. Part of their frustration arose from narrowly missing out on the tournament based on win percentage. Had they won one more game, they would've clinched that final berth.
We've heard that season-ending lament from Eichel and Ristolainen before. It's been expressed by other Sabres' players, coaches, and general managers — past and present — for some time.
In the nine years since the Sabres last appeared in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, a culture of losing has permeated this franchise.
General manager Jason Botterill referred to it two years ago after center Ryan O'Reilly told the press he'd lost his love for the game following another losing season in Buffalo. O'Reilly was soon shipped to the St. Louis Blues, rediscovering his love of the game by taking home the Conn Smythe Trophy last spring as the Blues marched to their first-ever Stanley Cup championship. Meanwhile, the Sabres' doldrums continued.