Here's your official start to hockey season as Sabres rookie camp is open at HSBC Arena:
7:23 a.m. Portland coaches Kevin Dineen and Eric Weinrich, Sabres assistant James Patrick and Sabres administrative assistant Kevyn Adams take the ice.
7:25 a.m. Nathan Gerbe is the first player on the ice and takes the first slapshot into an empty net, thrusting his arms into the air.
7:26 a.m. Lindy Ruff takes the ice for the first time this season.
7:27 a.m. Ruff has his first pre-practice skate with a player, chatting up defenseman Marc-Andre Gragnani.
7:30 a.m.: Ruff blows the whistle for the first time, bringing the players over to a wipe board affixed to the glass by the bench.
7:31 a.m. First fan enters, a woman in her mid-20s, and sits right behind the bench.
7:32 a.m. Five more women enter and sit behind he bench.
7:33 a.m First drill begins.
7:35 a.m. Gerbe leads the first team stretch around the center ice circle.
So we're under way with the players in new practice jerseys (big, beautiful, circular classic logos and no slugs). One bad thing: No numbers on any of the jerseys. That means it's going to be tough to identify a large number of the 37 players in the two sessions (major boo for both the media and fans).
The 40th anniversary logo is at center ice. The slugs are still on the jumbotron. I bet that will change by Oct. 8.