BUFFALO – The mindset of a player at the start of the season is never focused on building for the next one, Sabres defenseman Josh Gorges said.
“You come in with a mindset of we’re going to win, we’re going to try to win,” the veteran said this morning as the Sabres cleaned out their lockers following a 30th-place finish. “As players, our job is not to play for the future and play for development of players. It’s just to compete every night and have the two points every game.”
Of course, the Sabres earned two points only 23 times. This season wasn’t about winning, and players knew that.
Along the way, Gorges said, players lost sight of their main duty.
“We lost that idea of what being a professional athlete is supposed to be,” he said inside the First Niagara Center. “It’s not about just showing up, putting your time in, punching the clock. There’s work.”
There’s lots of work ahead.
“You finish dead last,” Gorges said, “you can’t get further down.”
To Gorges, who underwent surgery for a micro-fracture in February, another wretched season presents an opportunity.
“We’re not going to go through this again,” he said. “The way things happened, we won’t accept it as players. I’m sure the coaches won’t accept it – management, everybody. We need to change the way the culture is here. We understand what happened this year and trying to get our future put in place, but now it’s time to take a step forward.”
How do the Sabres change?
“I think it’s a process,” Gorges said. “First of all, you have to do it by having the right people here. You have to have guys that are willing to compete. You have to have guys that are committed to doing what it takes to win. If you have guys on your team that want to cheat, that want to cut corners, accept mediocrity, we won’t get there. If you don’t want to be a part of this, and players make that decision, they shouldn’t be here.”
He added: “Now it’s time to take it up a notch and make sure we hold that accountability to a higher standard.”
Gorges, whose season ended Feb. 10, has a six-month recovery. His injury eventually became too much to handle, so he decided to have surgery. His recovery is on schedule or even ahead, he said. He should be ready by mid-August.
Check back later for much more.
Some other quick updates:
– Center Tyler Ennis will represent Team Canada at the upcoming world championship.
– Center Mikhail Grigorenko is going back to Rochester.
– The NHL officially announced the draft lottery will take place Saturday at 8 p.m. The Sabres have the greatest odds, just 20 percent, of getting the No. 1 pick.