Even with 1,414 NHL games between them, Brian Gionta
and Josh Gorges
aren’t afraid to seek out the advice of others.
As the Buffalo Sabres wrapped up practice at the Bell Centre on Monday, some players worked on skating drills, others took shots on net and a few worked on tip drills. Gionta took a knee near the penalty box and had a long talk with assistant coach Bryan Trottier.
To their right, Gorges was engaged in a good discussion with coach Ted Nolan along the boards.
The Sabres have lost 14 games in a row and have not earned a point since Dec. 27, a come-from-behind shootout win against the New York Islanders. Buffalo has not won on the road since Nov. 29 when they defeated Montreal in a shootout.
“You want to find a solution and be a part of that solution,” Gionta said. “Daily, you’re going through things, trying to figure out what you can do to help. It’s a constant thing. You’re thinking about it all the time, trying to find ways, whether you’re doing something right, doing something wrong or trying to find a different way to get through.”
Gionta, the Sabres captain, also held that title while with the Montreal Canadiens. During his time in Montreal, he would talk to former Habs and try to draw upon their experiences and use them to further his development as a player and a leader.
His conversations with Trottier have been similar affairs.
“We talked about a lot. Trotts being a Hall of Famer, it’s always good to pick his brain,” Gionta said. “Whether you’re talking about the future, you’re talking about something in the moment. Those guys, I was fortunate to be around a lot of them in Montreal here and another one in Trotts, their mindset and their outlook on things is always special.”
Nolan is glad to see his leaders continue to seek out solutions to the team’s problems.
“I come from a culture where our elders are probably the most important people and you gain wisdom and you can gain knowledge from them,” Nolan said. “We have Bryan Trottier right here who’s won seven Stanley Cups. I’m quite sure he’s [gone] through every situation there is in hockey and for Brian to talk to him, he can transfer it to the rest of the players.”
Gorges and Nolan have had a few long conversations this season. Gorges is an alternate captain for the Sabres and also served in that capacity during his time in Montreal. However, even he’ll admit that there are still questions that he has about certain situations.
“We were just talking about our group, what we need to keep focusing on. I’m trying to find answers on how I can be better and how I can help this team better,” Gorges said. “The good thing with Teddy is he’s a very open person. He’s an easy person to talk to.
“The lines of communication are always open and for us to give back and forth and just have a general discussion about hockey itself. That was more or less what it was about today.”
The levels of frustration are rising as the losing streak continues. The Sabres wrap up their four-game road trip Tuesday night at 7:30 p.m. against the Canadiens.
“I haven’t been in this situation before so I’m still trying to learn for myself how to be a better leader, maybe at times more positive, lots of different things, anything that can help this team,” Gorges said.
Times may be tough now, but Nolan made sure to point out to Gorges that if they’re able to consistently do the little things the right way, brighter days won’t be that far off on the horizon.
“I told him, ‘When you’re going through tough situations, the tougher they are, if it doesn’t kill you, it makes you stronger and better at the end of it,’” Nolan said. “We know what we’re going through here in Buffalo. It’s going to take a little time to turn the fortunes around and we’ve got some good pieces going forward.
“We’ve just got to make sure we stay patient and work and don’t forget to work. Eventually things will things work out.”
80 Chris Stewart – 28 Zemgus Girgensons – 63 Tyler Ennis
26 Matt Moulson – 17 Torrey Mitchell – 12 Brian Gionta
19 Cody Hodgson – 65 Brian Flynn – 21 Drew Stafford
44 Nicolas Deslauriers – 37 Matt Ellis – 36 Patrick Kaleta
4 Josh Gorges – 57 Tyler Myers
51 Nikita Zadorov – 55 Rasmus Ristolainen
6 Mike Weber – 24 Tyson Strachan
61 Andre Benoit – 41 Andrej Meszaros
1 Jhonas Enroth
31 Matt Hackett