5 monumental setbacks that crushed the Sabres 2023-24 season

The Buffalo Sabres season isn’t officially over, but it would take a 180-degree turnaround for this team to end its playoff drought this year.

Buffalo Sabres v Edmonton Oilers
Buffalo Sabres v Edmonton Oilers / Lawrence Scott/GettyImages
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After collapsing in the worst way possible against the Edmonton Oilers, you can argue the Sabres 2023-24 season is officially crushed. The playoff drought will turn to 13 years, and you just have to ask when will this nightmare finally end? 

Following a surprise season in 2022-23, we thought 13 would be the magic number. But that isn’t the case, and the Sabres can start looking toward 2024-25, hoping that what they saw this season was nothing more than growing pains. 

Or was it? Think about it for a minute - there are more than just a few setbacks that caused this season to be one of disappointment, and if they bounce back starting in October 2024, a forgettable one. 

From now until the new league year begins, blame will be rampant, and no one, from general manager Kevyn Adams to head coach Don Granato, is immune. 

In reality, the Sabres down season was one of the most unpleasant storylines in the NHL. But perhaps it will be nothing more than a blip in what has been a journey of a rebuild that kicked off when the organization hired Adams in 2020.

Monumental setbacks crushed the Sabres season

Misfortune bloomed, even as far back as October, and bad luck lurked at virtually every corner, regardless of whether it was the summer of 2023, midseason, or, as we stand, the home stretch to another (likely) 82-game campaign. 

So what hurt the Sabres in 2023-24 the most and how did they end up dramatically performing under expectations in what was supposed to be a season to end the league’s longest playoff drought? 

There are five setbacks that jumped out, from mishandling young talent early in the year to making seemingly every backup goaltender look like an All-Star. But there was also an injury bug that refused to stop biting, even before the season began.