'And while the future isn't bleak, it's not brimming with optimism, either.'
'Some changes are bound to happen, with 14 free agents. Five are unrestricted, including Rob Ray and Richard Smehlik.'
'"We have a very strong nucleus. I know this organization isn't happy about how things went this year. I know the guys in the room – everybody knows, the coaches and Darcy – they want to win. They want to be successful and have a good hockey team. That's first and foremost. I think there were times when the desperation wasn't there."'
'He'll turn 39 in June but plays like he has several years remaining on his 19-year career. He enjoys playing in Buffalo, understands his role and wants to return for another season. He's not willing to move his family again for the opportunity to play elsewhere.'
'Roughly 10 percent of that critical season ticket base was lost before the 2001-02 season started. Coupled with a condensed schedule due to the NHL's Olympic participation (remember there were nine home games in October, approximately 25 percent of all home dates) and a horrible start on the ice, selling tickets became even more of a challenge. Attendance dipped, revenue will be impacted and there are no playoff games to make it up.'
'Geoffrey Reeds, director of sales for the Hyatt Regency Buffalo, said his hotel is definitely feeling the crunch because the Sabres didn't make the playoffs. Reeds said the final lost sales number could approach $100,000, especially if the team had gone deep into the playoffs.'
'"I think it's entirely possible he may have to sell the Buffalo Sabres. Why do I say that? He apparently has pledged the hockey team as collateral against his loans that he used to borrow money to buy his own stock."'
'"I think the plain truth is we didn't come to play as well as we needed to a couple of times and it caught up with us."'
The Buffalo Sabres capped off their season on a high note when they blanked the Montreal Canadiens 3-0 in Montreal. Finishing their vastly disappointing season with an impressive victory only underscores the fact that they have no one but themselves to blame for missing the playoffs for the first time since 1996.
'The Sabres failed to reach the postseason for only the seventh time in history and the first time since 1996.'
'In these days of pro sports, there is a certain point when the players stop listening to a coach. It's usually no fault of the coach. It looks as if the Sabres and Ruff are at that point.'
'Here's hoping the Sabres learned something from the Peca debacle. It wasn't about numbers when it came to Peca, and it certainly isn't about numbers when it comes to Ray. The time will come when the Sabres will bid farewell to their tough guy, but now is not the time.'
'So, as expected, what you got in this 3-0 loss to the Sabres was non-contact hockey from one team playing its last game of the season – dedicated to getting it over as quickly as possible.'
'On a night when the Sabres outshot the Canadiens 34-22, goaltender José Theodore did his best to keep the Canadiens in the game, but he didn't get much help on either of the first two Buffalo goals.'
'The victory last night was Biron's 31st of the season and that gives him one more than Theodore. There has been no mention of Biron as a Hart Trophy candidate.'