Sabres' O'Reilly explains himself on TSN

May 11, 2018 - 1:49 pm

Buffalo, NY (WGR 550) - On Locker cleanout day, the Sabres Ryan O’Reilly was brutally honest about his feelings. He talked about that he had lost his love for the game during the season and that losing became OK.

O’Reilly is in Denmark at the World Championship playing for Team Canada.  He sat down with TSN’s Darren Dreger for do a feature called the “Dreger Café” Dreger asked the Sabres center about his comments and O’Reilly didn’t back off what he said one bit, “It’s nice to come here and get into that winning mindset and it brings that competiveness back and I want to bring that back with me next season.”

“Everything I said, I was being honest and when I reflect on the year, who else can I look at? I’m the guy that plays the most minutes and it’s my fault and I want to change, I want to be in Buffalo, I love it there.”

The fact that he had lost his love of the game at times was shocking. O’Reilly told Dreger, “The love of the game is a staple of our game and that’s why we’re out there and not doing it, and getting away from that is a reason why I wasn’t successful.

“When I love the game is when I’m competitive and no matter who I’m up against, I’m going to outplay that guy and at times, I lost that and that’s the reason why I wasn’t at my best and doing what I should be for the team and that needs to change and I plan to change it.”

The natural question is how is O’Reilly going to change it. He talked about it a lot during the season and was never consistent. O’Reilly said, “I find that during the course of the year and just being OK with losing, I’m expected to be a leader and I’m expected to be more vocal (said that after last season too and it didn’t happen), but I have to be the most competitive guy and that will trickle down through the lineup and that’s practice, that’s training camp, that’s every time I touch the ice, I’ve gotta be more strict and not so much care what people think, I’ve got to be more honest with myself and the guys and create an environment that’s winning.”

I had wondered if O’Reilly was orchestrating an exit out of Buffalo by saying what he did, he said absolutely not. He said he always wanted to stay and he’s now even more exciting that Buffalo won the Draft Lottery, “We’re getting the first pick which will be huge, but it’s a great city and I want to be there and I want to win and I was just being honest and I feel I need to do that more.”

As O’Reilly mentioned earlier, he was happy they were getting the first pick, but what about Rasmus Dahlin becoming a teammate, “Watching World Juniors and highlights of him, I mean obviously it’s not official, but I’m pretty sure we’ll be taking him, but I’m excited, he’s so dynamic with what he’s doing with the puck and he’s just an elite player that any team he goes to, he’ll just make better.”

O’Reilly likes having the good young players, but he said now he and others have to mold it, “The pieces are there, it’s bringing them together and that’s on myself and the veteran guys and it might take a couple of years, to get where we want, you know, it might be next year, I don’t know, but I think we’re going to try and things will change there and we’re going to have success there.”

There have been rumors for about six months that O’Reilly might be traded by the Sabres. Jason Botterill warned after the season that there will be changes to the core of the team. O’Reilly told Dreger, “I think I have a pretty good relationship with the GM and if something happens, it happens, it’s hockey and you move on, but I plan and am preparing to be in Buffalo, so I think a lot of rumors happen and speculation, but that’s part of the game and I plan on being back in Buffalo.”

In four games at the World Championsips, O’Reilly has three goals and no assists. Canada 3-0-1 in the tournament.

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