The Buffalo Sabres just can't seem to catch a break in what has been a season of suffering. The Sabres lost the lottery held in Toronto Tuesday night to determine which of the non-playoff teams would get the top draft pick in the NHL draft this June.
As the league's worst team, Buffalo had a 25 percent chance of winning the lottery. But the Sabres lost out to the Florida Panthers, who will now have the first pick. The Sabres will pick second.
Earlier Tuesday, Sabres officials held their annual end-of-year press conference at First Niagara Center Tuesday. General Manager Tim Murray and Head Coach Ted Nolan reflected on what was the worst season in franchise history.
The Sabres finished last in the National Hockey League this year with a record of 21 wins, 51 losses, and 10 overtime losses. Murray said it’s going to take time to rebuild the team, but hopefully not years. He says he’s not into "five-year rebuilds."
The GM mentioned that during the annual team photo, he talked to the players about the culture of the team going forward. Murray told the team that this season was "unacceptable," but it wasn’t entirely their fault.
“I told them it wasn’t all on them. It was on management, it was on coaching staff, a lot of it was on injuries where we had to put people into positions that they aren’t ready for, so that’s out of our hands," said Murray.
"As far as coming next year and being ready to battle for jobs, it’s going to be competition. We’re not going to hand jobs to young kids unless they deserve it. Come in shape, come ready to battle, and come ready to play hard,” he added.
Nolan says he still hasn’t made a decision on his assistant coaching staff. As far as the team’s future, he says he is leaving the past in the past.
“Going forward, last year is last year. We’ll forget about it. We’re going to grab some players that are going to add a little bit more to us and contribute to the development of the team and the organization and where we all want to get to,” said Nolan.
Murray said he would like to bring in some veteran hockey players to be good leaders on and off the ice. He says his goal for next season is to rebuild the player’s confidence and earn back the respect of the league.