This has gone from a simple trade rumor to something that indicates quite a bit more hostility between player and team real quick.
We have been hearing for weeks now that there is a strong possibility that the Buffalo Sabres will trade star center Ryan O'Reilly prior to the start of the 2018 - 2019 National Hockey League regular season but the word was that the Sabres would have preferred to make that move during the 2018 NHL Entry Draft. The Sabres were believed to be seeking a first round pick in the deal and although there have been rumors that they would still consider moving the center it was believed that the price was going to be prohibitive.
Now however there are reports that Buffalo Sabres general manager Jason Botterill may just be playing chicken with the interested parties, because if the latest reports are any indication the Buffalo Sabres have no intention of welcoming back Ryan O'Reilly for another season. Sportsnet 590 the Fan contributor Dan Buffa is now reporting that a source has informed him that the Buffalo Sabres have already completely scrubbed down the locker that once belonged to O'Reilly, removing all trace of the player from their dressing room despite the fact that no trade has been announced as of yet.
Buffa's source is reporting that O'Reilly is "gone" and that it is only a matter of time now before the Sabres eventually pull the trigger on a deal to get him out of their organization. If you're wondering why Botterill and the Sabres are so hell bent on geting O'Reilly out of their locker room I think you have to look back at the comments made by O'Reilly at the end of this most recent regular season. O'Reilly accused the team of "being ok with losing," and even admitted that he had lost the will to play during the season.
“It’s crept into all of our games. Yeah, it’s disappointing. It’s sad,” O’Reilly said at the time. “I feel throughout the year I’ve lost the love of the game multiple times, and just need to get back to it because it’s eating myself up, and eats the other guys up, too.”
It seems that the Sabres were very angry about the comments and when you consider the young stars that they are trying to develop at the moment, the last thing you would want around them is a veteran player with a loser's mentality. Now the Sabres are bringing in another young star in the making in the form of first overall pick Rasmus Dahlin and getting a fresh start could be exactly what the doctor ordered.
That being said though this news getting out could hurt O'Reilly's value in the eyes of rival teams and when you consider that Botterill is asking for a big return that's bad news for everyone involved. Buffa reports that his source on this matter is "rock solid" and adds that the St. Louis Blues and the Montreal Canadiens are currently the two teams that remain in the mix.
It seems like it's only a matter of time now before one of those two teams adds the star cetner to their roster.
Photo Credit: Dirk Shadd/Tampa Bay Times/Zuma