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All Eyes on Adams. By Hank

May 12, 2021, 2:45 PM ET [776 Comments]
The Fan Blog
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Following the tumult of Monday’s press availability with Sabres veterans, General Manager Kevyn Adams spoke to the media on Wednesday to give management’s view of an organization that once again finished in last place in the NHL. What those tuning in heard was a GM who is excited about the younger core of Dylan Cozens, Casey Mittelstadt, Rasmus Dahlin and Tage Thompson. The future of the seemingly disgruntled veterans seems as murky as ever, however.​
Adams began his year-end remarks on Wednesday by attempting to bring some clarity to the injury speculation and drama surrounding Jack Eichel following the captain’s press availability on Monday. He provided a succinct summary of the situation from his vantage point early in his press conference before taking any questions. According to Adams, Eichel got a second opinion on his neck injury and the course of action prescribed in that second opinion – widely believed to be a vertebrae replacement with an artificial disk – is not something the Sabres medical staff is comfortable with. Adams further said that the Sabres medical staff talked with the doctors providing Eichel a second opinion.
“All doctors agreed on a conservative approach,” Adams said. “Typically, in this situation, through a conservative rehab approach, you are able to come back and perform.”
He added that the 12-week rehabilitation period would take them to late May or early June, and that following that period, they would reassess the options, but he believes that a conservative approach is the best approach and that his doctors are not comfortable with the disk replacement.
​As to whether Jack Eichel has asked for a trade, Adams replied that “If you’re asking me if he’s asked for a trade since the last time we’ve talked, or since Monday, the answer is no.” The phrasing of that answer is leaves plenty of room for speculation that at some point, Eichel has asked for a trade. Addressing whether he felt the sour attitude expressed by the veterans on Monday, Adams said that he often had communication with the players throughout the year and he felt their displeasure.
“I was around. I was having conversations. Honest conversations. We’re going to get this right with the people who want to be here,” Adams said.
For Adams, who has only been on the job for a year with no previous front office experience, it is certainly a daunting task to be faced with a veteran core that is almost in a state of outright revolt against the organization that drafted them. To that end, it is hard not to be impressed with the calm demeanor with which Adams carries himself. He does not get rattled by tough questions, and today, he staved off many of those questions by giving a well-presented statement at the beginning. Whether he is up to the enormous job in front of him is a completely different question - and one that is still to be determined.
​Adams had a markedly cheery tone when discussing the future of the franchise – as one might expect from a man whose job it is to sell a weary fan base on another potential rebuild. He had plenty of glowing things to say about the performance and potential of what he described as the “terrific young core,” conceivably consisting of Cozens, Mittelstadt, Thompson and Dahlin. By repeatedly talking about and stressing the young talent, it felt as though he was getting close to acknowledging the Sabres are at another blow-it-up moment. Adams said that he does not want to use the “rebuild” word, but he did follow that up with a mention of needing to take a step back.
“Yeah, so you’re not going to get me to use that word,” Adams said. “It’s a bit of a trap. It’s not because I don’t understand it. It’s challenging to put a timeline on players having success. But to answer that question appropriately, I do think we have to step back and address why the roster was constructed the way it was constructed.”
He was also asked about the job Interim Coach Don Granato did this year and largely had positive things to say, while also adding that they would still conduct a larger search to identify the next Sabres head coach. Adams did mention that he wants a coach that will work to the team’s strengths. That certainly must bode well for Granato considering his strength is dealing with youngsters and bringing along their confidence. The first job before trading off any pieces from the roster will be to hire a permanent coach (even if “permanent coach” is somewhat of an oxymoron). The hiring of that coach should say a lot about the direction of the franchise as it would seem unlikely that they would bring in a tough, no-nonsense disciplinarian with a roster that looks to be trending younger.
Overall, today’s media availability certainly sounded like the talk of a man who will be shuffling pieces of out of town this summer, especially when coupled with his repeated mentions of wanting players who “want to be here.” Frankly, it’s almost impossible to see a scenario at this point where all three of Eichel, Reinhart and Ristolainen return to the team after expressing their ambivalence about wanting to remain in Buffalo. Adams repeated hit the point of wanting players who want to be Sabres. At this point it seems the question is: Which of those three vets – if any – will still be wearing the blue and gold when the puck drops next October?

Overall, today’s media availability certainly sounded like the talk of a man who will be shuffling pieces of out of town this summer, especially when coupled with his repeated mentions of wanting players who “want to be here.” Frankly, it’s almost impossible to see a scenario at this point where all three of Eichel, Reinhart and Ristolainen return to the team after expressing their ambivalence about wanting to remain in Buffalo. Adams repeated hit the point of wanting players who want to be Sabres. At this point it seems the question is: Which of those three vets – if any – will still be wearing the blue and gold when the puck drops next October?
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