You may recall Buffalo Sabres noted dirty play guy Patrick Kaleta got suspended for five games for nearly breaking Brad Richards' neck against the boards. Upon his return from suspension, interim Sabres coach Ron Rolston benched Kaleta, as an extension of his punishment, presumably to send a point. I guess it kind of worked, because Kaleta was upset. Not necessarily remorseful in a "I learned my lesson and I'll try to play cleaner" kind of way, but in a "maaaan, I really wanted to play!" kind of way.
"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."
So, you wanted to play, eh? Granted, it's good to see Kaleta care about the fact that the Sabres are floundering terribly, and it's interesting to see that he thinks he can contribute. The best way he can contribute, other than by sitting, is by adjusting his play as to where he's not getting suspended. Will that happen? Who knows, but when a team's floundering, anger is what you want to see from the players. It needs to be anger at themselves, and directed at themselves and the situation that they've gotten in to.
Kaleta's venting to the public did not go over well with Sabres goaltender Ryan Miller. Miller wasn't happy with Kaleta's comments, and I'm going to assume that he wasn't happy about Kaleta's hit to begin with. Miller said this to reporters after Buffalo's last game (which Buffalo lost, 5-3 to the Washington Capitals):
“We’re not even discussing what Patty says, you guys. That’s just drama and he needs to just grow up if he’s gonna say that to you guys. You know what? He had a stupid play in a game. He sat, he was punished. 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. There: I’m addressing it now and I’ll go and talk to him about it. There’s no reason to say that.”
Let's translate that: "This is an internal team matter, and it's distracting to have to deal with it. Man up, get over the punishment, and let's play."
Spot on reaction from Miller. Not angry, but directly to the point – there are more important things to worry about with the Sabres season. If Miller had let this slide or dismissed it with a "that's just Patty being Patty" then it'd be concerning. When a team's frustrated, they should not only hold each other accountable for the smallest thing, they should be vocal about that — and that includes causing distractions, which are the last things that the Sabres need to deal with.
Fix the problems from within. Kaleta got the message; here's hoping the team as a whole did.