The Buffalo Sabres practiced at First Niagara Center today before skipping town to face the Carolina Hurricanes, beating the blizzard for warmer weather.
Of course it wasn’t just any normal practice. Not seeing the effort and intensity he wanted, Ted Nolan halted practice and skated his team until he thought the message was clear.
Nolan was quoted on the Sabres website today after practice for his reason behind the hard skate he put his players through.
“I don’t really care what position you’re in or what your skill set is or anything like that. What I care about is the work that you put in and the effort that you put in.”
Effort. With just a few weeks remaining on the season, Ted Nolan wants to see that players aren’t coasting – that the team hasn’t mailed it in.
The response from the veterans is exactly what Nolan wanted – having the leaders of this team take matters into their own hands and bring accountability into the locker room.
Might we be seeing the evolution of the next captain of the Buffalo Sabres? Drew Stafford had this to say about practice today:
“Even if we are last place, the type of transition we’re going through here with this rebuild, the philosophies and the way that we want to play, it starts in practice,” he said. “It starts with your work habits and attention to detail. When those things aren’t there, it translates to games. That’s the message that was sent.” (Beyond the Boards quote).
Drew Stafford is likely to be the one member of the roster that likely could get moved next year, being on the final year of an expiring contract. With the passing of now two trade deadlines where his name came up in rumors but no trade done – is next year the third times the charm, or will the Buffalo Sabres be able to salvage his game and develop him into the captain of the team?
Maybe Drew Stafford’s problems in Buffalo stem from the fact that he isn’t the man. Maybe with a C on his chest, his game will continue to evolve and get better.
Either way, Ted Nolan wants effort the rest of the way, and that just make up some entertainment value from the actual on ice product.