TAMPA, Fla. -- It's that time once again. The time to catch up on the NHL news, starting in the goal-forsaken B-lo, with another edition of Sunday Morning Papers:
*The Buffalo Sabres boarded their plane for Florida on a 4-1-1 run and feeling good about their game. They trudged back on it for the return flight to Western New York as outclassed losers of two straight.
The Tampa Bay Lightning dealt the Sabres their second straight loss Saturday, earning a 3-1 victory in St. Pete Times Forum. The Sabres were outskated for long stretches, outshined on special teams and just plain left out of the win column during their Sunshine State weekend.
"We were playing fairly well coming in," Sabres right wing Mike Grier said. "We've dug ourselves a hole. We've got two games before the Christmas break, and we've got to hopefully go home and get a couple wins, regroup and hopefully find a way to score some more goals."
*Donald Fehr assumed the role of NHL Players' Association executive director Saturday, as the union announced that its membership voted with an overwhelming majority to name the former head of the baseball union as its leader.
"Overwhelming majority just shows the confidence that we have in him," said Buffalo Sabres defenseman Steve Montador, a member of the NHLPA's constitution committee. "We're excited to have him. I think he's the guy with the most experience. Even though he doesn't know hockey, there's nobody else around that has the type of experience for the type of labor union that we are."
*In Inside the NHL, Bucky Gleason catches up with Todd Marchant. He's 37 and skated into the weekend with 1,150 regular-season games over 17 seasons on his NHL resume. His career is older than the Internet. It's old enough to have a driver's license. Heck, he has T-shirts older than NHL veterans who attended his hockey school, which is older than his four children.
Marchant, in his sixth year with the Ducks, returns Tuesday to HSBC Arena for what could be his final NHL game in Buffalo. He still lives in Williamsville during the offseason and is renting his home to Sabres center Rob Niedermayer, his former teammate in Anaheim.
"Any time you get a chance to come back to your hometown and play, it's very special," Marchant said. "And this may very well be my last time playing in Buffalo. It's special, and you have to enjoy it."
*Bucky has the Sabres ranked 25th in the 30-team league in his weekly power rankings.
*No one -- not the oldest centenarian nor the most rabid local historian -- can remember an event that brought more visitors to downtown Buffalo for a concentrated period than the upcoming World Junior Hockey Championship.
Just like the NCAA basketball tournament and the NCAA Frozen Four that between them have come to Buffalo five times since 2000, young college-age athletes will lure mostly packed houses -- including thousands of out-of-towners -- to HSBC Arena downtown.
But the NCAA basketball and hockey tournaments were two-day events, played out over three days.
The World Junior Hockey Championship will run from Dec. 26 through Jan. 5, with only one off day, New Year's Day. The tournament, showcasing the world's best 18- and 19-year-old hockey players, will bring 21 games to HSBC Arena and another 10 to Niagara University's Dwyer Arena.
"It's the NCAAs, for 11 days, with beer," Buffalo Sabres public relations director Michael M. Gilbert quipped.
*Here's the take on Saturday's game from the Tampa angle, done by two of my three fellow attendees at a Yankees-at-Dodgers game last June during the NHL draft, Erik Erlendsonn of the Tampa Tribune and Damian Cristodero of the St. Pete Times.
*Tim Thomas stopped Alex Ovechkin with 11 seconds left, giving Boston a 3-2 victory and sending the Capitals to their eighth straight loss.