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Sabres TV ratings end season with 20 percent drop

Ryan O'Reilly isn't the only one in Buffalo who lost his love for the game of hockey.

So have a high percentage of Sabres fans.

TV ratings for the National Hockey League team dropped about 20 percent from the 2016-17 season.

The Sabres ended the disappointing season that led to O'Reilly' s comments Monday on locker room cleanout day with a 4.8 rating.

That is down from a 6.2 rating in the more competitive 2016-17 season that ended with the firing of General Manager Tim Murray and coach Dan Bylsma.

When you consider the Sabres finished in last place in the league this season, the 20 percent drop isn't that bad.

The 4.8 rating for 75 games on MSG and seven games on NBCSN and NBC also will keep the team at or near the top of average ratings in the league for broadcasts.

Things could have been worse.

The 4.8 rating is almost a point higher than the rating for the 2014-15 so-called tank season. It averaged a 3.9 rating and led to the drafting of Jack Eichel with the No. 2 pick.

The highest rating in the past four nonplayoff seasons was the 6.6 average in the 2015-16 season.

It will be interesting to see if the decline in interest in the Sabres will impact local interest in the Stanley Cup playoffs.

The NHL is likely to experience some ratings declines during the playoffs with so many big market teams with strong hockey followings failing to qualify.

The New York market lost the Rangers and Islanders and Detroit, Chicago, St. Louis and Dallas all didn't qualify for the playoffs.

Ratings across the border also may suffer because the Toronto Maple Leafs and Winnipeg Jets are the only Canadian teams in the playoffs.

The Leafs will play the Boston Bruins in the first round, which will be a losing proposition for the NHL in one way.

If Toronto wins and advances, the Canadian TV market doesn't register an American TV rating and the hockey-rich Boston market will be eliminated.

If Boston wins, the league loses its strongest Canadian team, which will hurt ratings north of the border.

Housley vows to get second season behind Sabres' bench off to better start

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