Eric Staal's short-lived stint with the Buffalo Sabres is over and he couldn't be more relieved.
Staal was traded to the Montreal Canadiens on Friday in exchange for third and fifth-round picks in the 2021 NHL Draft, ahead of the impending deadline. The veteran forward was previously dealt to the Sabres from the Minnesota Wild in September, in an ostensible attempt to improve Buffalo's anemic offense.
"Well, the good part for me right now is I don't really need to explain, I can kind of put that behind me and focus on what I can do for the Montreal Canadiens, which is what I'm going to try and do," Staal said Sunday to The Athletic's John Vogl.
"Obviously, it has been a very difficult season for the Sabres and for me personally there. I think there's a lot of contributing factors. I'm not going to lay them all out as far as what my thoughts are."
Buffalo is currently in the midst of a 17-game losing streak, slumping to dead last in the NHL, while Jack Eichel is out indefinitely due to injury. It's been a disaster of a season for the Sabres by all accounts and Staal provided some further insight into how their season was going.
"There were so many hurdles, there were so many things that just didn't line up the way we had in mind or had envisioned. The reality is we started OK, we had an up and down first two weeks or so, we were kind of finding our game, filling our roles, and then we got hit with COVID.
"It went through our room like wildfire and it wasn't great. Two weeks of guys battling that, and a couple of guys battling it pretty hard, it was difficult. We kind of, after that, coming back, never found any footing."
Staal recorded three goals and 10 points, which extrapolated over the entirety of a full season would represent the worst statistical output of his 17-year career. Now featuring on a Canadiens team that is currently holding onto the fourth spot in the North Division, with a few games in hand to gain ground on their divisional rivals, this constitutes a new start for Staal, a welcome break from the moribund Sabres.
More coverage from Yahoo Sports