OTTAWA -- Ted Black isn't giving up on this Sabres season, but it appears the only good that may come out of it will be in the future.
The Sabres have won just four of their last 18 games and sit second last in the Eastern Conference at the All-Star break. It's not yet a lost season, Black said today, but the pained look on his face hinted otherwise.
"I wouldn’t say that about any season because you never know where the seeds of greatness are going to be planted," the team president said following a board of governors meeting. "So I wouldn’t say it’s a lost season because that would suggest somehow we’re abandoning our efforts, and we’re not."
Black looks at the subpar stat lines for his players and has little doubt why the team is on pace to miss the playoffs for the third time in five seasons.
"It’s a tough year," Black said. "Guys are just on pace to have career-low years in key categories such as goals. If you had a team that had Lemieux, Gretzky, Orr and Howe, and imported their worst statistical years, you’d probably have a team that wasn’t going to make the playoffs. There’s no slight to those great players, the fact is every player has a career-best year, and every player has a career-worst year.
"Unfortunately, we’ve got a lot of guys that are on track to have their worst year on the same team in the same year."
Black once again retiterated his support for General Manager Darcy Regier and coach Lindy Ruff -- "If this was a court reporter, I’d ask to read back the record on prior answers" -- and was asked if he is still as confident in the core players (a group that includes Ryan Miller, Thomas Vanek, Jason Pominville, Derek Roy, Paul Gaustad and Drew Stafford).
"That’s a word that gets thrown around, and to me our commitment is to winning, not to any particular group of players that are labeled as a core,'' Black said. "Take that for what it’s worth."