‘A Quiet Belief’ | Cozens and Mittelstadt confident in leadership of Sabers
Dylan cozens received a text from Casey mittelstadt in July, after the Tampa Bay Lightning won their second straight Stanley Cup Championship.
The message: We need one.
“We all have this vision, and we all believe it can come true,” Cozens said on Friday. “We’re just going to do what we can every day to get better and better and hopefully get to that point someday.”
Zemgus Girgenson and Kyle Okposo are two of the oldest statesmen on a new Saber roster. Both players met with the media on Thursday and spoke of a refreshing atmosphere, brought to life by young players unloaded from the past and eager for the future.
What became evident on Friday was the confidence players like Cozens and Mittelstadt took from the last month of last season, when coach Don Granato relied on his young core to play high-impact roles. of leverage every night. In the Eastern Division, that meant regular doses from players like Sidney Crosby, Alexander Ovechkin and Patrice Bergeron.
The intention was for the young Buffalo players to realize that they belonged to the ice with these names, that it feels less like a ‘pinch me’ moment than a daily habit. Cozens was surrounded by many of those same star players as the Sabers representative on the NHL player media tour in Chicago last weekend, where he granted interviews with a message to the people of Buffalo.
“I wanted the fans to know that we are really excited about what we have here and what we are building,” Cozens said. “I think we all see it.”
Video: TRAINING CAMP: Cozens
Mittelstadt echoed that sentiment on Friday. The eighth pick overall in 2017 refocused his off-ice habits before last season and paid off when he scored nine goals and 17 points in the last 22 games. His teammates noticed how he had started to show leadership qualities.
Sabers general manager Kevyn Adams said after the season that the team will build around its young core, specifically naming Mittelstadt and Cozens as enthusiastic players for the future.
“It’s a great opportunity for us,” Mittelstadt said. “I think we know that. More than anything come to the rink and make sure everyone is welcome and let everyone play their game and try to have fun at the same time.
“I think there is a huge quiet belief in our group. We know what people are saying about us, but we also know what we have in the room.”
Video: CASEY MITTELSTADT
The young Buffalo core was completed on Friday with the addition of Rasmus Dahlin, who first practiced after signing a three-year contract extension on Wednesday. Dahlin said he expects to be a point guard in his fourth season, a player others can count on with every second he steps on the ice.
“The bottom line is that we can, of course, change the culture here,” Dahlin said. “This is what I’m most excited for.”
Mittelstadt admitted that it was sometimes painful to watch the playoffs after last season. Seeing the higher seeds upset the lower seeds was a reminder of what was possible if the Sabers could just get in. Still, Mittelstadt said he watched every night, until he texted Cozens after the Cup award.
“Obviously that’s one of our goals,” Mittelstadt said. “But it all starts now. It all starts with camp and coming together as a team and figuring out the right things to do, the way we’re going to play and what we’re going to be like as a team.
“So that’s obviously one of our goals and we want to win one. But we have to do it the right way, build it the right way and do it all together.”
Video: TRAINING CAMP REPORT
Jack Quinn skated with the second practice group after missing both sessions on Thursday. Okposo did not practice due to a non-COVID illness.
The Sabers have a day off on Saturday before returning for an intra-team scrum at 6 p.m. Sunday. The scrum will be broadcast on Sabers.com.