BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – The Sabres hit the ice on Friday for their first training camp practice with a revamped roster and new head coach Phil Housley.
It’s been the talk all offseason: Speed. Skill. Fast. Aggressive.
That’s the style Housley wants to unleash when the season begins on Oct. 5. But even on day one, during one session, the Hall of Fame head coach didn’t like how the team was skating and stopped practice.
“Well I just thought it was a little sloppy,” Housley said. “Our execution needed to be better and I needed to address that because we want to play fast and if we don’t execute you won’t be able to play fast. I thought they did a great job and responded and both groups worked really well and hard today.”
Execution has been an area where the Sabres have lacked over the past two seasons. Mental lapses, defensive breakdowns, not playing two-way hockey have all contributed to the Blue & Gold missing the postseason.
Housley knows what it takes to get there, having been an assistant with the Nashville Predators who advanced to the Stanley Cup Final.
Jason Pominville, who had several playoff appearances with the Sabres before joining Minnesota during the 2012-2013 season, made the playoffs in each of the last five years.
“We were able to push each other every day and that’s kind of what we’re going to have to do here,” Pominville said reflecting on his time with the Wild. “We’ve got to set the bar higher for ourselves keep pushing each other to be better every day and I think it’s time for this team to make a step.
“Obviously this city deserve a little more than what they got lately. Hopefully we can do that starting this year.”
“He’s a great role model for our young guys,” Housley said of Pominville. “He’s a professional through and through. I liked that he stepped out of the stretch and took charge. I like that leads by example.”
Pominville wore a “C” once before with the Sabres and it wouldn’t be a total surprise if he wore it again now that he’s returned to Buffalo.
“The way you prepare yourself, the way you have to be ready to play on a nightly basis, be consistent every night to help your team have success that’s what we’re going to need here. We’re going to have to push each other every day, every night, that’s what we’re going to need here,” Pominville added. “I think the group is ready to take that next step.”