Buffalo Sabres: Ryan O’Reilly as captain makes perfect sense

BUFFALO, NY - MARCH 2: Ryan O'Reilly
BUFFALO, NY - MARCH 2: Ryan O'Reilly /

While the need for an official captain isn’t particularly important, Ryan O’Reilly is still the best candidate for the role with the Buffalo Sabres.

No doubt this article will be met with eye rolling and groans, but we thought we’d be the latest media outlet to add our two cents’ worth to the Buffalo Sabres captain debate. Actually, “debate” might not be the best word to use, given that we believe it’s pretty clear-cut who should get the role.

Pure and simple, in our humble opinion, it’s a no-brainer. Ryan O’Reilly is the most worthy candidate to take over as captain for the Buffalo Sabres, with Brian Gionta no longer on the team.

Think about how far O’Reilly has come, since first arriving in Western New York via a trade, in June 2015. Upon his arrival, he was immediately named as an alternate captain and signed to a seven-year, $52.5 million extension (the richest contract in franchise history).

Unfortunately for the Sabres, it took a little over two weeks for media experts and fans alike to question the decision to invest so much trust in the then 24-year-old. He was charged with drink driving, after hitting a Tim Hortons on Richmond Street in Lucan, at 4 o’clock in the morning.

Understandably, this was embarrassing for the organisation. While we’ve all made mistakes when we’re young, there is never any excuse for drink driving.

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In fairness to O’Reilly though, since the incident he has done everything possible to restore the Sabres’ faith in him. This includes registering the most points of any player on the roster, during his two season in Buffalo.

However, it’s off the ice where the 2009 second round draft pick has really made his mark, including post-workout practice. Referred to as “The O’Reilly Practices”, he regularly sticks around after the coaches have left, to lead his teammates in further drills.

Overall, O’Reilly has proven to be a natural leader and someone who the other players look up to. As such, regardless of how much an official captain is necessary in professional hockey, he more than deserves to hold the title for the Buffalo Sabres.

As for O’Reilly himself, he’s more than ready to take on the role if asked. Speaking to WGR 550’s Paul Hamilton and other members of the media, he said:

"“I need to speak up when things don’t work. As a group, we have to have more dialog between each other and also the coaching staff. As a group, we have to be able to go to them and say, ‘OK, we’re struggling with this, we need to change, we need to alter something’ and we have to be confident doing it. I think me and a couple of other guys really need to take control.”"

However, the Clinton, Ontario native went on to admit none of it will matter, if he doesn’t hold himself accountable as well. In other words, you have to practice what you preach.

There has been some conversation about Jack Eichel and possibly Jason Pominville being considered for the role of Buffalo Sabres captain. However, many of the players have admitted they want O’Reilly to be given the honor, something which we’re 100 percent on board with.

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What’s your opinion on NHL teams having a captain? Are you for or against it? Regardless, who would be your pick for the position with the Buffalo Sabres? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.