The Sabres have a room full of good, solid guys. With the exception of Maxim Afinogenov, Tim Connolly and Henrik Tallinder, who played with the Sabres before I started covering the team in 2002-03, I've been there to greet all of them after they got to the dressing room for the first time. As far as their off-ice demeanor goes, I'm not sure I could come up with a negative thing to say about any of them.
But as some players suggest in today's story, it would be nice if the group was a little more lively. It was described as this: Imagine walking into a room eager to start your day. You're excited about getting ready to play in front of 19,000 fans, thrilled to be living in the fantasy world of a professional hockey player. You're bubbling to chat and get more psyched up, giddy with anticipation about the drop of the puck.
You get to the rink and ... nothing. It seems no one is sharing your fun or excitement. You look left and a guy is silently lacing his skates. You look right and the teammate may as well be Charlie Chaplin or Marcel Marceau.
It's a downer, no doubt about it.
Then there's the other communication issue, which came to light following a loss to Washington. When the silence is broken with constructive criticism, some guys aren't sure how to handle it.
"We have to try and find a way to be a little more accountable to one another," captain Craig Rivet said after cleaning out his locker. "It was talked about this year. Accountability amongst the guys, if you're not used to it, it will feel very uncomfortable. But if you understand what it's all about, you're going to reap the benefits. I think this team has kind of been introduced to it, and I think we talked about it at the end of the year here, that this is something that's going to have to be addressed next year.
"I think it will be."