Jeff Skinner (pictured) was recently moved beside center Curtis Lazar. ©2021, Micheline Veluvolu

Ralph Krueger confident Jeff Skinner will bounce back for Sabres

Two days after moving Jeff Skinner down the lineup, Sabres coach Ralph Krueger said he’s confident he and his staff can get the veteran winger in what he called “a good place.”

Skinner, 28, began training camp skating at left wing on the second line beside center Eric Staal and Sam Reinhart. But Krueger recently moved him down the lineup with center Curtis Lazar and newcomer Riley Sheahan.

Skinner struggled last year in the first season of an eight-year, $72 million contract, mustering only 14 goals in 59 games. In 2018-19, he scored a career-high 40 goals in 82 outings.

“He’s worked hard in the offseason,” Krueger said on a Zoom call Sunday. “He’s coming in here and for us, it’s important no matter your role, no matter your skill level is that in general you play within the principles. He’s continuing to work on that together with the coaching staff. I think once he lets that go and relaxes and trusts his instincts, he’s going to give us what we need, which is we need scoring right through the lineup, and the present setup will give that line opportunity to add to our offense.”

On Sunday morning, Skinner was out on the ice early, according to reports from KeyBank Center.

“It’ll be important for Jeff to just keep working hard,” Krueger said. “And again, our principles need to be the guideline, but within that framework every player has the opportunity to let his genius express itself. For Jeff, that’s usually in the danger zone in front of the other team’s net. So his linemates need to get him there, he needs to do the work to get himself there and the goals will follow. It’s always hard work before you get rewarded.”

2 thoughts on “Ralph Krueger confident Jeff Skinner will bounce back for Sabres”

  1. Whenever I hear the description of someone is “working hard” it sounds dishonest, as if damning with feint praise. Working hard should be a baseline. It should be a given for a professional. It shouldn’t be a compliment. It should be something that’s unmentioned. Has he not worked hard in the past?

    Skinner’s in Krueger’s doghouse and it sounds like he’s going to stay there.

    1. A “professional”? Are you serious. These guys aren’t electricians. They aren’t working in your office down the street. They’re playing in one of the most competitive sports leagues on the planet. On top of that, most of them start to degrade as players starting at about the age of 25. No one gets into the league without working hard. Even the slouchers worked hard.

      What does Krueger mean when he says Skinner’s working hard? He means, “Skinner is having a fair amount of difficulty putting the puck in the net. It’s a common problem for many players in the NHL. We reminded him he has a $72 million contract, and we suggested a number of things he should work on to return to his previous productivity levels. But it’s not guaranteed, and it’s possible his contract turns out to be an albatross, so let’s just say, ‘He’s working hard.'”

      It’s the NHL, man. Their job is harder than you know. Did the Sabres sign a disastrous contract to keep Skinner? We’ll see. I doubt Skinner’s in the doghouse for reasons of character. It’s because his contract suggests he should be putting the puck in the net 35-40 times a season, and right now, he’s nowhere close to that, so he probably shouldn’t be in the top six. NHL contracts are a gamble. Some of them don’t pan out. But to suggest he’s not a “professional” because he’s struggling to live up to his contract is… nuts.

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