Sabres: Most of the players seem OK with Phil Housley

April 16, 2018 - 11:41 am

Buffalo, NY (WGR 550) - Many think that changing coaches every season is what will make the Sabres better. Jason Botterill has already said that he refuses to change coaches this season and ownership also believes that Phil Housley deserves to be back. Housley now gets a chance to look back and he said, "There's a lot of things you want to do differently when you're in this position. I thought the communication was really good between our players and our coaching staff. I thought our preparation was very, very solid. That's a question that I have to reflect on because I have to be better as well."

Jason Botterill said many of the changes he makes over the summer will have the way Housley wants to play the game in mind. The GM said, “I think the way that I want to put the team together and the way he wants to play is a good mix and he’ll certainly be here as our coach next year.”

I fully believe that the Sabres have many players on this roster that are uncoachable. Botterill said, “I wouldn’t say uncoachable, but we have some players with some strong opinions and part of the reason they do is it got them to the National Hockey League because they were motivated and dedicated, but we have to improve our communication. We have to make sure that our coaches and our players are on the same page.”

Kyle Okposo was here when Dan Bylsma was fired after just two seasons. Many players complained about Bylsma and Okposo thinks there is one thing Housley could improve on, “There’s a game plan put in place and I think the coaches were patient with us for sure this year and I think that some simplification would be good for our team, just a simple message and just say, ‘I just want you guys to go work.’

“Don’t worry so much about the X’s and O’s and just go out there and work and that’s what we can control as players.”

Jack Eichel has a lot of respect for his head coach because he’s a Hall of Famer. Eichel said, "He knows the game, he’s a good guy, he gets it, he played.

“You're playing for one of the best players who's ever played the game, so there's a lot we can learn from him.

"Sometimes I think we take it for granted how well respected and how much he knows about the game. I think we can continue to learn from him as he's going to continue to learn from us."

Eichel also thinks Housley did the best he could with what he had to work with, “Listen, Phil’s done a great job. With the situation he was put in and getting off to a tough start always makes things more difficult, but I thought he stayed patient with us, he did a good job communicating, but just like us, he’s also learning and he’s only going to get better as a coach.”

Rasmus Ristolainen can be stubborn with how he thinks the game should be played. He still seems to support Housley and thinks the blame should fall on the players, “I don’t think it’s about the coach here, I feel like it doesn’t matter who’s the coach, I feel he’s a good coach, we just a lot of times don’t do what he says and we need changes, but the changes are not to change the coach.

“I feel like it’s the responsibility for our players and we need to change.”

Sam Reinhart caught fire in 2018. In 44 games, Reinhart scored 20 goals and 19 assists for 39 points. That would be 37 goals and 35 assists for 72 points over 82 games. I don’t know if this is a commentary towards the coaches, but he just said he needed to do things differently, “I took a step back and wasn’t happy with the way anything was going and I said to myself, ‘I’m playing my game.’ I think it’s more important for me to play my game, it’s more beneficial to me and the team for me to play my game and however that fits into the team.

“I don’t want to say that I said just screw it, but I think it was important for me to get back to what I did best in the past and I think I was able to find a way as it fits into our team game.”

Scott Wilson was with Jason Botterill is Pittsburgh and they won two Stanley Cups together. There’s no question in Wilson’s mind that Botterill is the man to straighten the Sabres out, “If I could pick anybody, I think I’d it would be Botsy, just his personality, his love for the game along with his demeanor, especially with a young group of guys.

“You’ve got a lot of high end prospects coming in and he’s definitely the guy you’d want here.”

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