Niagara Gazette

Sports

April 14, 2014

Sabres hope they've bottomed out with season over

(Continued)

Defenseman Mike Weber compared the Sabres to "The Island of Misfit Toys," a reference to the castoffs made famous from the animated movie, "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer."

"So many changes. New faces every day. It was tough to keep track at times," Weber said. "And every time it seemed like we'd get a couple of guys back, we'd lose a couple more."

Buffalo set an NHL expansion-era low by managing just 150 goals, one fewer than the 1997-98 Tampa Bay Lightning scored. And the Sabres established franchise lows for fewest wins and most losses in an 80-plus-game season.

"There's been a lot of changes since I've been here the last three years, and it's gotten worse every time," forward Ville Leino said. "But this one is by far the worst."

How bad was it?

The Sabres' 21 wins in 82 games this year matched their total from the lockout-shortened 48-game schedule the previous season. And their 51 regulation losses were the most since the Islanders went 21-51-7-3 in 2000-01, according to STATS.

This wasn't exactly the objective owner Terry Pegula laid out upon purchasing the Sabres in February 2011, when he boldly vowed to build a contender within three seasons.

On Monday, Pegula was preaching patience in summing up the team's finish.

"It's understandable given all the moves we made," Pegula said, outside the team's locker room following a lengthy meeting with new general manager Tim Murray.

More changes are certain to come.

With coach Ted Nolan signed to a three-year contract extension, it's widely anticipated he will shuffle the assistant staff he inherited in replacing Rolston.

Murray, meanwhile, is focusing on upgrading the roster beginning with the draft in June.

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