According to Lance Lysowski of the Buffalo News, Jeff Skinner’s agent, Don Meehan of Newport Sports, had a “lengthy conversation” on Wednesday with Buffalo Sabres GM Kevyn Adams. The context of that conversation was the lack of playing time and consecutive healthy scratches of his client.
It’s not said that the discussion was heated or that a trade has been requested, only that Meehan is expressing his concerns over the situation. Skinner has been sitting out the last three games as a healthy scratch, and was not a part of the regular roster during the most recent morning skate. A player who was signed to be an offensive threat for the organization night in and night out is now an afterthought and his $72 million dollar contract is burning a hole in the organization’s pocket.
Head coach Ralph Krueger has said Skinner is not in his “doghouse”, but it’s starting to become clear that Skinner is not in the team’s plans moving forward this season.
What Was Talked About?
Meehan has declined to reveal what was discussed on the call but it’s obvious where Krueger stands on all of this. He explained: “Number one, I don’t have a doghouse – I don’t know, really, what that is,” said Krueger. He added, “Every decision is made for the whole, for the group and the mix of our 12 forwards is as complex as it’s ever been because of the taxi squad,” he continued.
There has to be some truth to that as the Sabres aren’t deploying lines in ways many thought they would. Jack Eichel and Taylor Hall haven’t seen a ton of time together and it was believed they’d be a duo that could usher the team forward this season. Hall was specifically signed to pair with Eichel and the Sabres have often abandoned that plan while struggling to find wins.
Krueger says he’s taking the assignments day by day. “Again, my job, combined with the attitude and the work ethic of a player, is to work together to find the potential of the player.”
Is Krueger Targeting Skinner?
For a coach who is known as a motivator and more uplifting than perhaps any other coach in sports, it doesn’t sound like Krueger is thinking much about making Skinner feel good while he’s out of the lineup. The coach noted, “I would say right now the decisions are more for the players that are in the lineup than against anybody else.”
That is potentially good news for the forward. If the current roster continues to struggle, Skinner will likely hop back in and, at that point, the coach will try to make the player feel like he’s a lot more involved in the process.
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