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Sabres GM Jason Botterill: 'There will be change'

Clearly angry about the miserable plight of the Buffalo Sabres, general manager Jason Botterill knows things have to change on the ice, in the dressing room and throughout the organization.

"There has to be change, and there will be change," Botterill said Wednesday during his season-ending news conference. "When you finish where we did, we have to look at everything. That means even looking at changing up our core players."

That doesn't mean changing coaches.

"Yes, 100 percent, Phil Housley will be our coach next year," Botterill said in KeyBank Center.

Botterill says the Sabres' 31st-place season has reinforced his beliefs of what makes an organization succeed.

"Right now we have a losing culture," Botterill said. "We haven't won here, and it's up to Phil and I to work with our players to work through that to make sure we change our culture."

The losing culture may have never been more evident than on Monday. Ryan O'Reilly, an alternate captain and the highest-paid player, said he became OK with losing and lost his love of the game at times.

"He gave you an honest opinion, and in today's sports world that's a little bit unique," Botterill said. "When you don't win, when you don’t get the results you want, it can be really draining on a player.

"What he said is probably indicative of a lot of players in our organization, and that's what we have to work through right now."

Sabres' Ryan O'Reilly says he lost love of game, lacked mental toughness

Botterill spent a decade in Pittsburgh and was part of three Stanley Cup championships. Now he's in Buffalo, which hasn't made the playoffs in seven years – and hasn't even come close lately.

"Going through exit interviews on April 9 and 10 flat-out sucked," Botterill said.

During the exit interviews, Botterill had players tell him they were disappointed. The GM says it's not enough to be disappointed. The players have to improve their training methods, communicate better with each other and the coaching staff, and build stronger relationships.

"There's a level of disappointment from the players, and what we really tried to focus on with them was, 'OK, there's disappointment. What are we going to do here moving forward?'" Botterill said.

The players definitely have to buy into what Housley is teaching, and they didn't.

Mike Harrington: With Housley, it comes down to respect

"I wouldn't say 'uncoachable,' " Botterill said. "I think we have some players with some strong opinions.

"As an organization, we have to improve our communication. We have to make sure our coaches and our players are on the same page."

The losing has taken its toll on the fan base. Thousands of tickets went unused, and the fans had little to cheer.

"We feel their pain," Botterill said. "We understand where we're at right now. We know."

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