The Sabres Observer
by @DaveDavisHockey on 10/31/13 at 11:45 AM ET
Even since the Sabres' rebuild began, Steve Ott had been saying all the right things.
As I told Todd Lewis of SiriusXM's Hockey Unfiltered last weekend, Buffalo Sabres fans appreciate a guy who is respectful of this humble blue-collar city and expresses a desire to play here. That's been the gritty forward's shtick since the day he arrived.
But let's face the facts. Ott is 31 years old and plays on a team that may not be a contender until he is staring hockey career mortality in the face. He hasn't experienced the thrill of Stanley Cup playoff participation since six seasons ago, when his Dallas Stars were eliminated by the Detroit Red Wings in the Western Conference Finals.
And now, after seeing the Sabres trade their best forward in Thomas Vanek, and sensing the inevitable departure of franchise goaltender Ryan Miller, the "I Melt With You" tune Ott has metaphorically been singing to the press all this time is finally beginning to sound a bit more like "Can We Still Be Friends".
"I want to win," Ott said during his radio segment this morning on WGR-550. "That's, firsthand, the most important thing for myself is I want to be successful in the NHL and have a chance to win..... Who knows what situation the Buffalo Sabres are in. They might use myself, for an example, as an asset and acquire things as well. Obviously, it's the business side of things."
If you need a simple translation, I'd say this is Ott's very subtle way of firing off rescue flares in a direction where GM's of playoff-bound teams can see them.
Of course, Ott could end any and all suspense by agreeing to an extension before the trade deadline. I strongly believe that, for the right price and term, GM Darcy Regier and owner Terry Pegula would love to get their popular captain signed. Barring an epic turnaround by the Sabres on the ice, however, it's pretty hard to imagine that happening.
Ott has modest numbers this season -- 2 goals, 4 points and 24 penalty minutes with 2 fighting majors in 14 games. But he would be a perfect fit playing on the third line of a contending team.
How will Regier pass up the chance to add to his growing draft pick collection when Ott as a soon-to-be UFA is coveted by a team prepared and hungry for a deep playoff run? The answer is that he won't.
That's not something Sabres fans, who have understandably taken quite nicely to Ott, want to hear. But losing a leader and local favorite is nothing new. It's really a shame, because he's a guy that would be great to have around for the kids as they develop.
How many pro sports teams have ever traded away three captains in twelve months? Unless there is a surprising contract extension announcement by early March, expect that to be the case here in suffering Buffalo.
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About The Sabres Observer
Dave Davis has covered the Buffalo Sabres for various NHL accredited websites and newspapers since 2003. He was the senior writer and Sabres correspondent for The Fourth Period, covered hockey for Western New York Sports and Leisure Magazine, and has had articles featured on NHL.com, FOX Sports, Yahoo Sports and in New York Sportscene. Sabres news and notes can be found on his Twitter page.
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter: [@DaveDavisHockey]