NHL.com will periodically be doing a series called "Five Questions With ...," a Q&A with some of the key figures in the game today aimed at gaining insight into their lives and careers.
This edition features Buffalo Sabres forward Steve Ott:
As irritating to other players and as controversial as Steve Ott can be on the ice, he is just as honest when he talks to the media off the ice.
It doesn't matter if it's after a win, a loss or following a practice, Ott is typically one of the first players inside the Buffalo Sabres dressing room that the media go to because they know he'll truthfully answer some hard questions.
"They usually come to the veteran guys in the dressing room, and obviously I have lived through experiences of good times and bad times, ups and downs in my NHL career," Ott told NHL.com. "It's easy to answer those types of [hard] questions on a daily basis."
The questions this season have been particularly difficult because of how inconsistent the Sabres have been, even though they're still mathematically alive for a berth in the Stanley Cup Playoffs heading into their Wednesday Night Rivalry game against the Boston Bruins at TD Garden (7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN).
Ott talked more with NHL.com about his role in the dressing room, the reasons behind some of his most recent comments, the effort he's seeing from his teammates and the Sabres' albeit slim chances for a postseason berth.
Here are Five Questions with ... Steve Ott:
Stinging comments like calling your team's effort last week against the Montreal Canadiens "embarrassing" and getting on the fans for booing turns you into a go-to person for the media. It's part of the reason we're doing this Q&A right now. Do you feel it's in your nature, your personality to be outspoken in that way, honest in that way?
"I get an interview and I do them; that's how it is. I tell the truth. I call it like it is. I don't think anybody respects anybody that sugarcoats anything."
The word embarrassing is strong. Do you regret using that word or, looking back on it, do you feel it was necessary and appropriate?
"Absolutely, I thought we were. Collectively, myself included, all of us thought our performance against Montreal was embarrassing. There is no silver lining when you're completely outshot, when our work ethic completely wasn't up to par, where it should be. I'm going to call it like it is, and my teammates would do the same thing. There is no hiding behind anything. We lived through it."
You guys have won two in a row since and allowed only one goal in the process. What's changed, and do you think your comment had an impact?
"All of us, we had a closed door meeting as a team and we discussed how to finish out the season with a lot of pride and obviously try to sneak into a playoff spot if we can, but really try to take care of what we have to over the last six or seven games."
I'm not trying to placate you here just because I've got you on the phone and you're giving us your time for this Q&A, but I think it's fair to say that your effort and your commitment on most nights, if not all nights, has been there all season. Can you say the same about your teammates?
"Yeah. No one goes out there with a mindset of not trying to bring their all every single night. That's something that is learned. As you continue to be a good pro and become a veteran guy, all of us have tried to be as consistent as possible in our games. I have seen that throughout the season, progress in our work ethic and everything else continuing to pick up."
The Sabres are not mathematically eliminated yet. Is it realistic to still believe you guys have a chance to make the playoffs?
"Every day it's more realistic, but you have to win the games. We're four points out right now (entering Tuesday night) and going into Boston and we have a big game coming up against Pittsburgh as well. Those are the points you're going to need to sneak into the playoffs, and you also hope that those teams can knock off the teams you are battling with."