Buffalo, NY (WGR 550) -- Tyler Myers season ended last year when he went crashing into the post cracking his ribs. Myers started to improve quite a bit after Ted Nolan took over as Ron Rolston's system just bogged down the defensemen.
The 24 year old had nine goals and 22 points in 62 games last season. Lately staying healthy has not been easy for Myers. He only missed two games in his first two seasons, but he missed 27 games in his third year, nine out of the 48 in the lockout season and 20 games last year.
We all know the Sabres were the NHL’s worst team last season and by the time it ended, it was just a group of misfits thrown together after many trades depleted the ranks. Myers said, “It was a season that we have to make sure we reflect on and realize changes needed to be made, but you also want to take the positives out of it too and we want to bring those into this year and September and make sure everybody’s on the same page”
Myers is right, changes had to be made. Gone are Ville Leino, Christian Ehrhoff, Matt D’Agostini, Henrik Tallinder, John Scott, Zenon Konopka, Alex Sulzer, Jamie McBain and Cory Conacher. That’s nine players gone. Buffalo has brought in Josh Gorges, Brian Gionta, Matt Moulson, Cody McCormick, Andrej Meszeros and of course it drafted Sam Reinhart second overall.
The changes in the Sabres lineup last year just never ended and of course the players noticed, “Yes, setting a franchise record for most guys in the lineup puts things in perspective. I think a lot of the changes were expected and there wasn’t much of a surprise with some of them.”
The defense now has Myers, Gorges, Meszeros and Mike Weber. The next three spots will have youngsters battling. I think Mark Pysyk gets one spot. The others in contention are Rasmus Ristolainen, Jake McCabe, Chad Ruhwedel and Nikita Zadorov. Myers thinks this group is going to develop into a very good defense, “I think when you take alook at our D, it’s pretty exciting to see how much depth we have. With Risto and big Z coming up, those are two young guys that have a lot of potential.” In that group are five number one picks and two number two selections. Ruhwedel got many offers after coming out of college and chose the Sabres. Gorges was a street free agent and signed out of junior with San Jose.
The Sabres could improve this season by 10 wins and still be in third last place if you use last year’s results. Myers said more has to change than just who’s on the team. “It’s all going to come down to the whole team. We have to start creating a belief system that we didn’t start with last year and until that happens, there’s going to be tough times, but talks that we had towards the end, guys realize there had to be change if we want to start turning things around, so it’s going to come down to how much we want it.”
Getting back to how Myers played, Rolston was in over his head in so many ways, but what he asked his puck carrying D like Myers and Ehrhoff to do was dumb. He told them not to carry the puck, but join and support the rush. If Myers is going to be effective, he has to carry the puck once he gets that speed up. All this wasn’t lost on Myers, “As soon as Ted came in, my first meeting with him and hearing him say go out there and I don’t want to say encourage me to make mistakes, but basically don’t worry about it, it helped me out a lot.” Myers added, “I thought positive strides were taken last year and it’s just a matter of building on that.”
Myers totally changed his training last summer. Much of that was work with sports psychologist Barbara Meyer. Not much changed this summer for Myers, “I definitely saw the benefits of last year’s off season and I not only want to match that, but get more out of it. I think last summer was really good getting the guys together and it really shows me how hard I have to work to keep going every year.”