The Buffalo Sabres have had a very rough two seasons, with a concerted effort to instantly build a winning team leading to another lackluster season that could mean further dismantling of the team. The drama continued on Sunday after another bad loss, with Sabres goaltender Ryan Miller displaying yet another round of brutal honesty to the local media.
Sabres forward Patrick Kaleta has come under some intense fire the past few weeks following his controversial hit-from-behind on Rangers forward Brad Richards. Kaleta, who has now gained a reputation for such plays, was suspended five games for the infraction and Sunday marked the first game for which he was eligible.
To his chagrin Sabres coach Ron Rolston decided to scratch Kaleta against the Washington Capitals, citing a desire to not mess with current line combinations. Kaleta did not respond well, reportedly screaming his disgust on the ice before venting to the media in a cleared-out locker room.
"I'm pissed off. I want to play," Kaleta said. "And especially after watching some things, sitting there watching the game, I want to play. ... I guess they don't need me right now I guess. I've been pissed off watching for the past couple weeks. No matter if you're a fan, a player, you guys know what's going on. You should be pissed off. You should play with a little piss and vinegar. You shouldn't be happy. We're not in position we want to be in. We have to work harder, come in and do something about it.
"That's between me and the coach and I have to listen to what he wants," Kaleta continued, when asked about the reason he was given for being scratched. "Obviously I'm going to be pissed off for today and not be too pleasant. I think about it, let it bother me for a little bit and move on and prepare myself. Hopefully the team will want me back here in the next couple of games."
The Buffalo Sabres are 1-3-3 in their past seven games and continue to slide backwards in the midst of a frustrating season. While Kaleta's actual contributions on the ice are debatable, this could be seen as a player fired up and wanting to get on the ice and help his team -- although there's certainly a better way to let the media know your frustration.
The Sabres would go on to lose the game against the Capitals, 5-3, with Miller allowing five goals on 25 shots as Buffalo fell to 10-15-4 on the season. Miller spoke after the loss and after commenting on his own play and some frustrations with the officials, the goaltender was asked about Kaleta's comments from earlier in the day.
It should be noted that the question that Harrington specifically asked of Miller, who likely did not know of Kaleta's comment, was, "...before the game, Patrick Kaleta was upset about scratched and said 'I have to find out if the players want me back and on the team.'"
"He's being dramatic," answered Miller. "We're not discussing what Patty says to you guys because that's just drama and he needs to just grow up if he's going to say that to you guys. He had a stupid play in a game, he sat, he was punished and he has to get over it and move on. We handled it. He doesn't have to go to you guys and say that stuff. I'm addressing it now and I'll talk to him about it. There's no need to say that."
Harrington then asked if the players had gone to the coach to demand that Kaleta receive one more game on top of the league suspension, which Miller quickly rebuked.
"We don't make lineup decisions," said Miller. "I'm sorry if this is a bad tone, but you caught me on a crappy night."
You can hear the full audio of Miller's comments, as well as the questions being asked, here.