He had shoulder surgery back in mid-March and the rehab will take him into the summer. However, Head Coach Chadd Cassidy wanted to keep the captain with his team. Even though he has no chance to play in the playoffs, Bagnall traveled to Chicago with his teammates.
"He's still our captain and been a good captain for us all year," Cassidy said. "He provided great leadership and we thought it was important for him to be around the team. He's another guy that can reinforce the message of what our coaching staff wants and the way we need to play."
Bagnall's accumulated experience with his teammates in the locker room still has plenty of value. "You can figure out what buttons to push," he said. "Cass is great at doing that, but if there's another voice or if there's a guy I can get through to better than he can... we've been really good at finding out who he should talk to, who I should talk to."
Bagnall also has something the Amerks don't have: recent playoff success. Bagnall went to the league finals with Houston three seasons ago. "He's been to a Calder Cup. He's a guy who's had a lot of success. It's really important to have that experience because we don't have a ton of it," Cassidy said.
Without a chance to play, this is the best Bagnall can do. He's enjoying the opportunity to shape the future of the Sabres. "The hardest part about being injured is not having a role with the team," Bagnall said. "Being able to be there to help in any way is very satisfying."
Bagnall has proved most useful helping the young guys at his defensive position. Rasmus Ristolainen and Chad Ruhwedel are in their first playoffs while Mark Pysyk is only playing his second (and his first that includes a playoff victory).
Bagnall says the guys are "super-talented", but he's reminding them about their positioning--moving a foot this way or a foot that way. "It's those feet in playoff series that add up to goals and wins," Bagnall said.
It's now the only way Bagnall can keep his season from being over, even if it already is.