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Kassian arrested in Windsor bar fight

Bad news on the Zack Kassian front: The Sabres' No. 1 pick from last season and a key member of Windsor's Memorial Cup winning team was arrested early Sunday morning in the wake of an altercation in a downtown Windsor nightclub. Details in this Windsor Star story remain sketchy.

Seems like Kassian, who served a 20-game suspension this year after a brutal hit during an Ontario Hockey League game, has quite the mean streak in him. And while that can be a good thing, of course, he better learn to harness it if he wants to have a solid NHL career.

---Mike Harrington
(www.twitter.com/bnharrington)

Hawks survive wacky opener

There were some rumors President Obama might be at the United Center for Game One of the Stanley Cup final Saturday but he was a no-show. For that matter, so were defense and goaltending. It was a 6-5 Chicago win in the opener in a game that saw the Flyers pull Michael Leighton for Brian Boucher after he had given up five goals. How silly the Canadiens must feel now after the Hawks solved Leighton in less than 40 minutes after the Habs were blanked three times in the Eastern final.  Yes, Phillyfan, the Hawks are a wee bit more explosive.

Philly Inquirer columnist Bob Ford wonders what the Flyers do in goal now. Great friend of the Edge Pierre LeBrun of ESPN.com asks the same question.

Pretty crazy stat sheet to look at. Danny Briere had a four-point night. The Flyers had three leads and took no penalties. Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane and Dustin Byfuglien had no points and were a combined minus-9. How did Philly lose? Carter-Richards-Gagne all pointless as well and a combined minus-7. Giving up a shorthanded goal to Dave Bolland was a killer. As was a game-winner to Tomas Kopecky, a healthy scratch in recent games.

Game Two is Monday night. Defense anyone?

Click here for the NHL.com video recap of Game One. (For some reason, the embed function isn't working on their video today. Sorry).

---Mike Harrington
(www.twitter.com/bnharrington)

2010-11 NHL schedule out June 22

As we get set to open the Stanley Cup finals tonight, the NHL made several announcements Friday in Chicago looking forward to next season. Perhaps lost in all the items was this one: The 2010-11 schedule for the Sabres' 40th anniversary season will be released on Tuesday, June 22. That's about three weeks earlier than the last couple years, when the schedule was released during the dead time in the sports calendar the day after Major League Baseball's all-star game.

It will be interesting to see how the league handles the Sabres' schedule around the holidays as the World Junior Championships open in HSBC Arena on Dec. 26. The Sabres are not expected to be on a two-week road trip and are likely to play one home game during the tourney on Jan. 1

The schedule release will be the kickoff to a big week on the NHL calendar. The annual awards show in Las Vegas will be on June 23 and the draft takes place in Los Angeles on June 25-26.

Three other Sabres-related tidbits came out Friday: As previously announced, the Sabres will meet Ottawa in a preseason game Sept. 28 in Dundas, Ont., as part of the Kraft Hockeyville promotion that awards arena upgrades and the showcase game to a small  Canadian town; the Sabres or Chicago will meet Toronto in the Hall of Fame Game Nov. 6 in Air Canada Centre, two days before the annual induction ceremony; and the Sabres will be one of several U.S.-based teams playing on Sunday, Feb. 20 as NBC helps promote USA Hockey's Hockey Weekend Across America.

As for the 2009-10 season still  going on? I got Blackhawks in five.

---Mike Harrington
(www.twitter.com/bnharrington)

Another European vacation for NHL

Six NHL teams will start next season far away from home, as the league announced today its continuation of the Premiere Series for the fourth straight season.

Carolina and Minnesota will begin Oct. 7-8 in Helsinki, Finland. Columbus and San Jose will play Oct. 8-9 in Stockholm, Sweden. Boston and Phoenix will meet Oct. 9-10 in Prague, Czech Republic.

I'd like to make this a request to the NHL to send the Sabres to Venice, Italy, for the start of 2011-12. A fine pub in Ireland would be OK, too.

---John Vogl

Big Daddy Kane

It's almost too bad helmets are mandatory in the NHL. Patrick Kane's head might be too wild to cover up.

Kane has already attracted the spotlight of the Stanley Cup finals with a haircut for the ages -- as in the age of Vanilla Ice. The South Buffalo Blackhawk has a mullet/shaved-design combo that got the folks talking at NHL Media Day. Someone reportedly wondered what the ladies thought of the 'do.

"I wish I could tell you, but around town, I haven't been doing much," Kane said. "But when you go out to dinner, it seems like you get recognized pretty easy. I don't know if it's the haircut or people just excited about the Blackhawks."

There was a female member of the media in the group, so Kane asked, "Well, what do you think of this?"

"It's nice," she responded.

"To be honest, I think some of the girls like it," Kane said. "But who knows if it's the hair or who I am. You never know, I guess."

---John Vogl

Report: Sid to host Ovie in Winter Classic

It had to happen, and it appears it will. The NHL's two biggest stars -- Sidney Crosby and Alexander Ovechkin -- will share the the league's biggest stage -- the Winter Classic.

According to Rob Rossi of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, the NHL will announce as early as today that Pittsburgh will host Washington on New Year's Day in Heinz Field. The annual event will return to a football stadium for the first time since the Penguins visited the Sabres on Jan. 1, 2008.

It will also feature the top names in hockey, with perennial MVP candidates Crosby and Ovechkin.

The Sabres drew 71,217 to Ralph Wilson Stadium, while the Steelers' field handles 66,000 for football games.

Meanwhile, the NHL will have an additional outdoor game in February, according to multiple reports. Calgary will host Montreal in McMahon Stadium.

---John Vogl

Gleason: Bowman creating his own legacy

The Stanley Cup is not foreign to Stan Bowman. His father, Scotty, is the greatest coach in history and won it 10 times. Stan grew up celebrating Cup titles in their backyard in Williamsville. He spent a decade working with the Blackhawks, which for years was an irrelevant franchise on the city's rich sports landscape.

All along, he fantasized about being part of a Cup rather than witness to one. And now the opportunity is right there for the general manager of the Blackhawks.

For more of Bucky Gleason's column, click here.

Sabres' pick leaves college for juniors

Corey Fienhage gave it the ol' college try. Now the Sabres' prospect is giving junior hockey a whirl.

Fienhage, the Sabres' third-round pick in 2008, has left the University of North Dakota and will play for Kamloops of the Western Hockey League. The Minnesota native had limited playing time at North Dakota, according to my buddy Kris Baker of SabresProspects.com, and recorded just two assists and 12 shots in 30 games this season.

The 6-foot-3, 215-pound defenseman was a Mr. Hockey finalist while playing high school hockey in Minnesota.

"Corey is a big, physical defenseman who felt that the WHL was the best route for him in order to prepare himself to play pro hockey," Kamloops coach Craig Bonner said of the 20-year-old. “He is a mobile defenseman that will have an opportunity to play an important role with our hockey club."

The Sabres will need to judge Fienhage's pro potential based on this season. Because Fienhage switched to junior hockey, the Sabres' will lose their rights to him in June 2011; they would have retained his rights until the completion of college had the sophomore stayed in school.

UPDATE: I got an e-mail advising me to look into this previous paragraph, and I made a mistake. According to Article 8.6 (c) (ii) -- and that alone tells you all you need to know about the CBA -- "If a Player drafted at age 18 or 19 is a bona fide college student at the time of his selection in the Entry Draft, or becomes a bona fide college student prior to the first June 1 following his selection in the Entry Draft, and does not remain a bona fide college student through the graduation of his college class, his drafting Club shall retain exclusive rights for the negotiation of his services until the fourth June 1 following his selection in the Entry Draft. The Club need not make a Bona Fide Offer to such Player to retain such rights."

Either way, it doesn't matter. Players aged 15–20 are eligible to play in the WHL, so he's only got one real season to show the Sabres his stuff anyway.

---John Vogl

More looks for Arniel, Dineen

Head coaching opportunities in the NHL have widened for two candidates with ties to the Sabres.

Portland coach Kevin Dineen, who has already interviewed twice with the Columbus Blue Jackets, could be on the Tampa Bay Lightning's radar now that it has hired Steve Yzerman as general manager. According to the Columbus Dispatch, Dineen and Yzerman have known each other a long time, and the Pirates' bench boss fits the criteria Yzerman set during his Tampa introduction.

Former Sabres forward and assistant coach Scott Arniel, meanwhile, recently interviewed with the Atlanta Thrashers about their opening. The Thrashers also have a new GM, Rick Dudley, and the former Sabre coached Arniel in Buffalo and San Diego. Arniel has also had two interviews with Columbus.

In other news, Atlanta has made a one-year contract offer to retain Maxim Afinogenov, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

---John Vogl

Stanley Cup odds

Most folks aren't giving Philadelphia a chance to beat Chicago for the Stanley Cup -- and some of those folks are the ones who set the odds.

The gambling site Bodog.com has e-mailed the betting info for the Cup finals, and the Blackhawks are heavy favorites. So is their captain, Jonathan Toews, who is favored to win the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP.

Here's a look at some of the odds, with the usual helpful disclaimer: Gambling is bad. Your money is much better spent on concerts, whiskey and women.

---John Vogl

Who will win the 2010 Stanley Cup

Chicago Blackhawks                   -275

Philadelphia Flyers                     +225

2010 Stanley Cup Playoffs - Exact Series Result

Chicago Blackhawks 4-0            6/1

Chicago Blackhawks 4-1            3/1

Chicago Blackhawks 4-2            4/1

Chicago Blackhawks 4-3            7/2

Philadelphia Flyers 4-0               25/1

Philadelphia Flyers 4-1               14/1

Philadelphia Flyers 4-2               7/1

Philadelphia Flyers 4-3               7/1

2010 Stanley Cup Playoffs - Total Games in Series

Over   5.5 Games                       -160

Under 5.5 Games                       +130


2010 Stanley Cup Playoffs - Exact Number of Games in Series

4                      11/2

5                      9/4

6                      11/5

7                      11/5

2010 Stanley Cup Playoffs - Series Game Spread

Chicago Blackhawks      -1½  (-150)

Philadelphia Flyers         +1½ (+120)

2010 Stanley Cup Playoffs - Total Goals In Series

Over/Under                    32.5 Goals

Who will win the 2010 Stanley Cup Conn Smythe Trophy?


Jonathan Toews (CHI)                 1/2
Antti Niemi (CHI)                        5/1
Mike Richards (PHI)                   7/1
Michael Leighton (PHI)               8/1
Patrick Kane (CHI)                     19/2
Danny Briere (PHI)                     18/1
Simon Gagne (PHI)                    20/1
Chris Pronger (PHI)                    25/1
Patrick Sharp (CHI)                    28/1
Marian Hossa (CHI)                    30/1
Dustin Byfuglien (CHI)                33/1
Field (Any Other Player)             22/1

 
Will a player from the losing team in the 2010 Stanley Cup Finals be awarded the 2010 Conn Smyth Trophy?

Yes                  +1000

No                    -2000

Will there be a 5 minute fighting major penalty called during the 2010 Stanley Cup Finals?

Yes                  +195

No                    -250


Who will a better Save % in the Series?

Michael Leighton            +115

Antti Niemi                    -145

Patrick Kane Total Points in 2010 Stanley Cup Finals


Over / Under                  6.5

Danny Briere Total Points in 2010 Stanley Cup Finals

Over / Under                  5

Flyers-Blackhawks rewind on NHL Network

The two Stanley Cup finalists -- Chicago and Philadelphia -- met only once this season. It definitely had its exciting moments, so the NHL Network is replaying the March 13 meeting at 8 tonight.

In case you want to watch and be surprised at the outcome, I won't reveal the score. If you don't care because A) the game is more than two months old, or 2) you'd rather enjoy the great weather on some outdoor patio instead of on the couch in front of a TV, you can click here and here for the game recaps.

---John Vogl

Stanley Cup superstar?

Philly's Mike Richards had the shift of the season in Game Five of the Eastern Conference finals (below). Chicago's Dustin Byfuglien celebrated goal after goal in the Western Conference finals.

Someone is going to shine brightest in the Stanley Cup finals. But who?

---John Vogl

Buffalo's Cup connection

Someone with close ties to Buffalo is going to be a Stanley Cup champion soon. Daniel Briere and the Flyers advanced to the finals Monday night, while Brian Campbell, Patrick Kane and the Blackhawks punched their ticket Sunday.

Which player would you most like to see win?

Despite the booing he endures, there are still Briere jerseys in the HSBC Arena crowd. The former co-captain was a popular guy in town and -- trust us -- still likes this place.

With the exception of Jay McKee, there is no nicer guy I've interviewed in eight-plus seasons with the Sabres than Campbell. He's a class act, and the folks in Western New York adored him enough to make him one of the leading vote-getters for the All-Star Game in 2007.

Kane, of course, has more ties here than both of them. I'm sure folks in South Buffalo would get a kick out of seeing the Cup if he were to bring it home.

At least one of them will win. Which would you like most?

---John Vogl

Stevie Y flying south

One of Detroit's hockey icons is taking his skills to the Sun Belt, as Steve Yzerman is set to be named general manager of the Tampa Bay Lightning today.

Yzerman showed his managerial skills as the executive director of Canada's gold medal-winning Olympic team. Detroit already has the NHL's top GM in Ken Holland, so Yzerman had to leave his longtime city if he wanted a job leading a team.

---John Vogl

Biega signs with Sabres

One of the steadiest players in the Boston hockey scene will be making the short trip to Portland next season.

Alex Biega, Harvard's captain who never missed a game in his four seasons with the Crimson, has signed a two-year deal with the Buffalo Sabres. His contract is for $515,000 in 2010-11 and $525,000 in 2011-12. The defenseman was selected in the fifth round by Buffalo in the 2006 entry draft

The Sabres have not announced the signing.

The 22-year-old played 131 games at Harvard, recording 15 goals and 70 points. His 55 assists were the most by a Crimson defenseman since Derek Maguire had 71 from 1991-94. Biega had two goals and eight assists in 30 games this season.

The 5-foot-11, 195-pounder is expected to start his pro career with the Sabres' minor-league affiliate in Portland. The Pirates had a crowd with eight defensemen this year, but prospects Mike Weber and Marc-Andre Gragnani are expected to compete for spots on the Sabres next season.

It appears one player who surely won't be back with the Pirates is forward Philip Gogulla. According to a German hockey Web site, Gogulla is ending his North American hockey experiment and returning to his homeland with the Cologne Sharks. The winger was sixth on the Pirates with 35 points, including 15 goals, but reportedly was not happy being away from Germany. The 22-year-old was the Sabres' second-round pick in the 2005 draft.

---John Vogl

Broad Shoulders or Broad Street?

Well, the Stanley Cup finals are set after Philadelphia knocked off Montreal on Monday with a 4-2 victory. The Flyers will head to Chicago for the opening two games, with Game One scheduled for Saturday night.

The Broad Street Bullies and the boys from the City of Broad Shoulders should make it an interesting final. The Blackhawks have more top-to-bottom talent, but the Flyers believe they have something special.

"This is one of the most, maybe the most exciting season ever since the first Stanley Cup," Flyers Chairman and founder Ed Snider said. "What these guys have done, what they've been through, I mean it's incredible."

---John Vogl

Briere, Flyers look to close out Habs

The Flyers can start a wild party on Broad Street tonight. They host Game Five of the Eastern Conference finals and, with their 3-1 series lead, can eliminate Montreal and head to the Cup finals against Chicago.

"Well, I mean the one thing we don't want to do is look past Montreal," Flyers forward Daniel Briere said after today's morning skate. "We can't control what happened on the other side. We'll deal with that once it's all over. I really don't want to start looking past Montreal. There is one big, tough game left to win for us. Hopefully it's tonight. That's what we're focusing on.

"We know they're going to come out desperate. We don't expect them to sit back and just roll over. They haven't done it in the previous two Series, and we expect the same from them tonight, so we know it's going to be tough."

In case you missed it, Bucky Gleason caught up with the former Sabres' co-captain the other day. Briere has been to the conference finals four times in the past five years, Bucky wrote, but only this year evokes the overwhelming confidence among players and euphoria among fans he experienced in Buffalo in 2006.

"The city embraces that team," Briere said by telephone. "It's so similar to that feeling I had in Buffalo that year that it's scary because nobody expected us to go anywhere with that team. As we kept moving along, more and more people jumped on and embraced us. It was the best feeling in the world. That's what I'm feeling right now with the Flyers."

---John Vogl

Windsor, Kassian take Memorial Cup

There's no doubt which team was junior hockey's best. The Windsor Spitfires won their 12th straight game Sunday, routing host Brandon, 9-1, to win their second straight Memorial Cup.

"We all came here for one goal, and that was to win the Memorial Cup," said Spitfires forward Zack Kassian, the Sabres' first-round pick last year. "A couple of times, we got tested, but that shows the character of our team. We didn't stop. I think it made us better throughout the tournament."

Taylor Hall showed why he's likely to be the first pick in this year's draft, scoring five times and adding four assists in the four-game tournament. He became the first player to win back-to-back Memorial Cup MVP honors.

Kassian had two goals and three assists. The Sabres plan to talk with the forward soon about signing an entry-level deal.

---John Vogl

Chicago sweeps into Cup finals

Dustin Byfuglien has the Windy City ready for the Stanley Cup finals.

The Blackhawks' big forward scored another game-winning goal Sunday, pushing Chicago to a 4-2 victory and four-game sweep of San Jose in the Western Conference finals. Byfuglien also had the winner Friday in overtime in Game Three. He put the Blackhawks ahead with a goal in the opener and scored in all four games.

Chicago will play Montreal or Philadelphia as it tries for its first NHL title since 1961.

"It's an honor to be going to the Stanley Cup. We beat a very good team over there. It wasn't easy," Byfuglien said.

Chicago will be the favorite no matter which team advances from the East.

''Last year we were in [the Western Conference finals], but I don't know if we knew we were going to win that round,'' Hawks winger and South Buffalo native Patrick Kane said in the Chicago Sun-Times. ''We didn't have the confidence.

''This year, it's almost like we feel that we shouldn't lose a game, to be honest with you. It's not cocky. That's just our attitude. We just feel like we have such a good team."

Chicago defenseman and former Sabres blue-liner Brian Campbell told the paper there's still work to do.

"I haven't won anything yet,'' Campbell said, shrugging. ''Nobody else in this locker room has. I don't know why there would be a celebration.''

---John Vogl

Apologies and Sabres' prospect big at worlds

Philip Gogulla has become a German hockey star, propelling his host country into the semifinals of the world championships for the first time since the current IIHF playoff format was introduced in 1992. Gogulla, the Sabres' second-round pick in 2005, scored the only goal to give Germany a 1-0 win over Switzerland.

Meanwhile, IIHF President Rene Fasel is trying to end the drama that struck when communications director Szymon Szemberg posted a story on the IIHF Web site ripping Sidney Crosby and other players for not showing up. The story has since been taken down, and Fasel has apologized to Crosby's agent.

"There are many things in the world of hockey that should be discussed but this column was an inappropriate way to do it and the timing was also bad," Fasel said. "Let’s now move on without being distracted by an isolated emotional outburst on our Web site."

---John Vogl

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John Vogl

John Vogl

John Vogl has been covering the Sabres since 2002-03, an era that has included playoff runs, last-place finishes and three ownership changes. The award-winning writer is the Buffalo chapter chairman for the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association.

@BuffNewsVogl | jvogl@buffnews.com

About Sabres Edge


Mike Harrington

Mike Harrington

Mike Harrington, a Canisius College graduate who began his career as a News reporter in 1987, has been covering the Buffalo Sabres since 2007. He is a member of the Professional Hockey Writers' Association and can vouch that exposed flesh freezes instantly when walking in downtown Winnipeg in January.

@BNHarrington | mharrington@buffnews.com


Amy Moritz

Amy Moritz

Amy Moritz, a native of Lockport, has a bachelor’s degree in journalism/mass communication from St. Bonaventure University and a master’s degree in humanities from the University at Buffalo. An endurance athlete, she has completed several triathlons, half marathons and marathons.

@amymoritz | amoritz@buffnews.com

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