The Buffalo Sabres traded Ryan O'Reilly to the St. Louis Blues this summer. No longer a Sabres player, O'Reilly has written an emotional goodbye to fans of the team, thanking them for the past three years.
There were multiple theories as to why the Sabres decided to move on from O'Reilly. Some sourced his very expensive contract, some said the team needed to make room for Jack Eichel to take over the top-line center role officially, others believed it was simply time to make a change. While all of those reasons might have been true, many fans also listened to O'Reilly's negative remarks about the team's overall last-place finish at the end of last season and saw the writing on the wall.
While both sides will move on, O'Reilly must have believed he owed the fans a thank you and posted a statement to Twitter via ‘The Instigators’ account showing his appreciation to the owners, staff, players, and fans from Buffalo. During part of his emotional farewell, he said:
“I formally want to thank the Buffalo Sabres and the city of Buffalo for the past three years. When I was traded here I had no idea what to expect. I was blown away by how much this city has to offer and all of the amazing people I met. I feel very privileged that I was able to call Buffalo my home."
A message from Ryan O’Reilly: pic.twitter.com/cdKXfDVu5V— The Instigators (@TheInstigators) July 14, 2018
He went on thank to owners for their support, the people of the city for their unwavering support, the organization who "excelled at their jobs", and his teammates.
Ultimately, despite being a popular player, O'Reilly was unable to get Buffalo out of the NHL's basement in terms of the standings and his seemingly disheartened attitude towards the play of the team, his love of hockey and desire to win in general proved a change was necessary.
He'll move on to a much-improved team in St. Louis who added, himself, Tyler Bozak, Patrick Maroon and David Perron, all in this offseason. Meanwhile, the Sabres will take the many pieces they gathered from the O'Reilly trade and add them to the first-overall NHL draft selection, Rasums Dahlin and try to compete for a playoff spot in 2018-19.