Ryan O’Reilly simply wasn’t enjoying hockey while playing in Buffalo. Considering his team’s lack of performance, that’s understandable.
Elite athletes are competitive people and want to win, so when he went out and vocalized his frustrations, people took notice because it doesn’t happen very often. Rarely do we hear an original, genuine response from a player when questioned and the hockey world took notice.
This week at the BioSteel Camp in Toronto, he reflected on those comments.
At the end of last season in early April, he made it clear how he felt about his team’s situation and the negative culture that was blossoming.
“We’re stuck in this mindset of just, you know, being OK with losing,” he said. “It’s really crept into myself… I feel throughout the year I’ve lost, lost the love of the game multiple times.”
Based on his time with the Sabres, you can’t blame the guy for feeling that way. Buffalo acquired O’Reilly following a trade with the Colorado Avalanche before the 2015-16 season. He went on to put up at least 60 points in each of the next three seasons, but that wasn’t enough to drag his team out of the basement. The Sabres finished last in the standings each of those years.
“No, I really want to be a part of the solution here,” he said in April when asked about whether or not he needs a change of scenery. “I love it here. I call it home.”
However, once the calendar flipped to July, the 27-year-old was traded to St. Louis.
O’Reilly may have felt the need to explain himself when questioned about his previous remarks, but if I’m a part of Blues management, I’d embrace his mindset. And it’s this mindset that may be one of the reasons they decided to trade for him.
He wants to win and he’ll have the opportunity to do so in Missouri. According to Bodog, the Blues have 25/1 odds to win Lord Stanley’s mug in 2019. One would think O’Reilly has been dreaming about an NHL postseason run for a quite a while.
In his nine seasons, he’s been on a playoff squad only twice and he never made it out of the first round. His last taste of postseason hockey came back in 2014.
The fact that he may spend the year feeding Vladimir Tarasenko is also reason for him to be excited.
And reason for the rest of the NHL to worry.
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