March 30, 2017

BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) Sabres center Sam Reinhart didn't appreciate spending Buffalo's last game glued to the bench.

He also acknowledges he won't be arriving late again for the team's morning stretch, which is what led to him being disciplined in the first place.

''It's the coach's decision. It's management's decision. From my perspective, I would've rather battled it out with my teammates,'' Reinhart said following practice Thursday. ''I don't think five minutes in the morning is going to influence my preparation for a game, but it was a team stretch and I should've been there on time.''

Reinhart's comments were his first public ones since he didn't have one shift in Buffalo's 3-1 loss at Columbus on Tuesday.

He said he was late because he misread a text, believing the stretch began at 11 a.m., not 10:30 a.m. By the time teammate Jake McCabe called to alert him, Reinhart said he was already five minutes late.

For Reinhart to spend the entire game on the bench was the result of an unusual set of circumstances.

Traditionally, he would've been relegated to the press box. But forward Kyle Okposo fell ill hours before the game, and with no other players available, the Sabres had to dress Reinhart to fill their NHL-mandated 18-skater lineup.

As it turns out, general manager Tim Murray and coach Dan Bylsma had changed the team's disciplinary policy only a day earlier. Previously, players would miss a power play if they were late for a team meeting. The decision to have players miss an entire game was instituted because not all see regular time on the power-play unit.

Bylsma said Reinhart should be disappointed and unhappy with what happened. Though this was the first time Reinhart has been benched, Bylsma said tardiness has been an occasional issue with others this season.

Top center Jack Eichel most notably sat out a power-play shift because he violated a team rule this season.

''We're moving forward with the situation, and Sam's aware of that,'' Bylsma said.

The benching comes at a time when Reinhart is struggling.

As a rookie last season, Reinhart finished second on the team with 23 goals and was third with 42 points in 79 games.

This year, he still ranks third with 46 points, but his scoring has tapered off, with just 17 goals in 75 games. Reinhart has combined for four goals and five points in his past 17 games.

He doesn't believe the benching will have repercussions.

''The 25 guys in here know I've been a team guy and they know I'm still going to be a team guy,'' Reinhart said. ''So that's the most important thing for me.''


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