By John Vogl
Ville Leino, waived today for the purpose of a compliance buyout, gave me one of the best quotes of my career in 2012. The Sabres were struggling again, and the atmosphere in Buffalo's arena was a cross between library and morgue. He was in his first season with the Sabres after playing in the hockey hotbeds of Detroit and Philadelphia, so I asked him about the crowds in Buffalo.
"Married couples fighting upstairs, you can hear that on the ice," Leino said.
That, in the journalism world, is pure gold. It was laugh-inducing, relatable to hockey diehards and casual readers, plus it was true.
Alas, I didn't often get a chance to hit Ville up for his opinions. His play didn't warrant formal interviews (we'd casually chat often), and fans quickly grew tired of hearing from him.
Why? Well, Leino's point of view and his frank way of expressing it didn't sit well in the city that loves hard-working players. With that said, here are some of Leino's greatest misses with the microphone.
October 2011: "It's really tough to play with nine, 10 minutes a game and try to make something happen, feel comfortable out there. It's pretty much every time you feel into it, you're not playing. It definitely is not easy for me."
February 2012: "There's always more pressure if you've got a good contract and people are looking at you to contribute. It's always more pressure and a little harder, but I don't think that would be the reason. It's just been hard to get things going team-wise."
April 2012: "It took me a really long time to get used to all the stuff. Sometimes the flow in our game wasn't the way that it should be. We didn't get the puck. Our defense didn't get the pucks to forwards. We didn't make enough plays. We didn't have the puck enough. The flow of the game, it wasn't quite there.
"Sometimes when you go out there and play, it's easy. It's just hockey. You go. But sometimes this season I felt like it was a different game. I wasn't feeling comfortable. I wasn't feeling like I was just playing hockey. Sometimes I had to think too much or it just was not coming naturally."
April 2012: "Hopefully, I can see myself out there somewhere in the lineup, maybe try to find a better spot for me. Hopefully, I can play some power play and get some points. I think I've just got to come back and start making those plays and play my game right away and start feeling comfortable."
March 2013: "I’ll just try to keep it simple and try to play my hockey. We definitely need to be better. It’s not like one man is going to change anything. We all know that. We need everybody.”
March 2014: "I’m sure it weighs on me, too, but obviously there’s a lot of other guys on the team, too, that hasn’t been able to really help that much, either."
March 2014: "You don’t want to do that play, but saying that we’re not able to bail ourselves out of those situations. Nobody’s bailing you out. It’s three-on-three. It turns the other way, then we lose guys and lose battles and don’t box out. When you’re not playing good, those things end up going in.
“Saying that, I’ve still got to try to make plays when there’s an opportunity. Sometimes, it involves a little bit of a risk and taking a chance. I’ll try to stay out of it because that will bite me apparently.”
April 2014: "There was so many chances that could have turned into a goal, but it didn’t. There was a lot of posts, lot of good saves. I don’t know. I guess it’s hard to describe. It hasn’t really hit me that hard. A lot of ups and downs, a lot of emotions, and definitely has been hard to play my game.”