By Mike Harrington
When he spoke to Brian Engblom on NBC after Tuesday's 4-1 win in Pittsburgh, Steve Ott said he wanted Darcy Regier to be a buyer at the trade deadline. That didn't happen, of course, as Regier dealt captain Jason Pominville to Minnesota in a purge that's also included the departures of Robyn Regehr and Jordan Leopold.
Ott said today he's disappointed in the moves but said the Sabres still have the resolve to push forward and capitalize on Tuesday's game, which snapped the Penguins' 15-game winning streak and was easily Buffalo's most complete outing of the season.
"It was tough. Let's be honest," Ott said after the morning skate for tonight's game against Ottawa. "What Jason has done for the Buffalo Sabres over the last 10 years or so is unbelievable. He's a heckuva player. It's not easy to replace a guy like that. It takes years to build a prospect into a Jason
Pominville. It's disheartening in the fact that our team obviously wasn't playing up to where it needs to be."
What about being a buyer?
"You always want to have hope and we still have hope in this dressing room," Ott insisted. "We have eight home games left and three on the road. A little bit of our destiny is in our hands but we have to win games. That's a fact of where we are right now."
The Sabres made Ott an alternate captain in the wake of Pominville's departure and he said he was "humbled and honored" by that distinction, even if he doesn't need an actual letter on his sweater to lead.
"You want to go lead by example every single day," Ott said. "Hopefully you drag a few guys along with you and they can ride your coattails. But we've got a lot of good leaders in this dressing room."
There's plenty of people talking up the possibility of Ott for captain next season but he said that's premature.
"That's definitely not even on my radar," Ott said. "No particular feelings about myself. I truly just want to be a hockey player on this team and be successful here. And that's the main focus, having a successful team, being a playoff team and being committed to the city rather than any leadership role."
One reason the 'C' may not be on Ott's radar is because he's got the same contract status as Thomas Vanek and Ryan Miller -- expiring after next season and wondering what the plan is here. Does he want a meeting on that topic with Darcy Regier?
"I think we all are [interested], absolutely," Ott said. "I'm 30 years old. I don't know like everybody else where everybody stands. In these type of moments, you look at where you are. Obviously I came in here with aspirations of staying hopefully for a long time and that's up to Darcy and management to do so. I go out there and I"m just a hockey player. We'll let the management do their job."
As for tonight's game, Vanek remains out and Ryan Miller will be in goal. Click below to hear from Ott and interim coach Ron Rolston.