Sabres' Botterill is enjoying the 50th anniversary

August 17, 2019 - 9:28 pm

Buffalo, NY (WGR 550) - The Sabres had their Fan Fest on Saturday with many past and present Sabres interacting with the fans. This of course is the 50th anniversary of the Sabres franchise and Jason Botterill is looking forward to it in many ways, "It's so much fun having the 50th anniversary with the jersey and to have so many players coming back here to Buffalo and throughout the entire season they're coming back. I think it's great for the city, great for the organization to celebrate its past and it's also great because we have so many young players and for them to get to know these players. To see the highlights and then get to interact with these guys I just think it gives them a better sense of the organization and what the city is all about."

This is Botterill's third offseason to get to rebuild this team. We all know how angry and vile it got by the end of last season. Even after talking with fans, Botterill doesn't think he's under any more pressure now than when he walked in the door. "I don't think there's any more this year, there's pressure as soon as you get the job, it's pro sports, there's always going to be pressure to have success.

"Are we excited about there we're going? Without a doubt and what I've really liked from our players is just because the coach has changed, if we think that's going to resolve all our issues, we're in trouble. They've focused on 'What could I have done differently?' The fact that they're taking that individual responsibility, that's exciting."

I tried to get a straight answer on if Matt Hunwick is injured right now. Botterill has talked about that he's been injured a lot. On Saturday the answer was, "He's still doing things, we'll have more of an evaluation with him and all our other guys. They're all dealing with things, they're all recovering, there have been ebb and flows throughout the entire summer, but for an update, we'll do more of that at training camp."

There was a report out of Finland last week saying that Rasmus Ristolainen inferred that he doesn't want to be in Buffalo any more. Botterill said, "As I told you in June, my conversations with Risto I'm going to keep private, but we're continuing to interact with Risto and we're trying to set this team up where we're putting Risto in positions to have success, yet he wants to win, but we've tried to add to our group to ease the responsibility of some players."

Vladimir Sobotka did not want to be in Buffalo last season and took very little if no responsibility for his poor play. One solution would be to loan Sobotka to a team in Europe. Botterill said, "I would say that maybe he wasn't a happy player, but none of our players were very happy at the end of the season, we didn't have a successful second half of the season and our mindset with Vlad is he's coming in and he's part of our group and we have a new head coach that's going to put players in different roles and you're going to see at the start of training camp and through the six preseason games a lot of different lineups and a lot players in different roles."

Botterill said Casey Mittelstadt took the off season very seriously and has improved his conditioning.

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