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Tim Kennedy traded to Florida

Tim Kennedy's whirlwind year continues, as the Rangers have traded the South Buffalo native to Florida (along with a third-round pick) in exchange for defenseman Bryan McCabe.

Kennedy, bought out by the Sabres prior to the season, has spent the year with the Rangers' AHL affiliate in Connecticut. He was second on the Whale with 42 points, including 12 goals, in 53 games. The Panthers' AHL team is the Rochester Americans.

My buddy George Richards of the Miami Herald reports that McCabe, the sixth captain in Panthers history, becomes the sixth captain to be traded by Florida.

---John Vogl

Video: Pegula meets with The News

Sabres owner Terry Pegula and team President Ted Black met with editors, reporters and other Buffalo News staffers for an editorial board meeting on Wednesday, Feb. 23. Here, broken into five segments, is video of that entire meeting: 

Part One

Part Two

Part Three

Part Four

Part Five

Columbus claims Rivet

The Buffalo Sabres' captain is on his way out of town. The Columbus Blue Jackets have claimed Craig Rivet off re-entry waivers.

The Sabres, who were unsuccessful in their attempt to trade their captain, waived the oft-scratched defenseman Wednesday with hopes someone would take him and his $3.5 million salary. Once that failed, they assigned him to Portland and put him on re-entry waivers Friday. The Blue Jackets picked up the 36-year-old today and have to pay only 50 percent of his salary. The Sabres will pay the other half.

"I just spoke with Craig and wished him the very best, thanked him on behalf of the organization, expressed to him that he was very much needed at the time when we acquired him," Sabres General Manager Darcy Regier said this afternoon. "He did a terrific job for the organization, for his teammates. I wished him the very best, and he sounded excited. It’s great."

Regier said it will be up to coach Lindy Ruff to decide whether to name a captain for the remainder of the season or wait until next season.

Rivet played in just 23 games for the Sabres and was scratched for the past 18. He has one goal, three points and a minus-5 rating.

The Blue Jackets have had a spot for a veteran leader since sending Mike Commodore to the minors last month.

Rivet has been the Sabres' captain since arriving in 2008 and is still held in high regard in the dressing room despite not playing. The players were hopeful that Rivet would get a chance to play somewhere, and the Blue Jackets are going to give him that chance.

"Craig's a guy I've really looked up to from Day One when I came into this room," Sabres defenseman Tyler Myers said. "As a young guy my first year in the league, he really helped me out and made it comfortable for me. I'll admit I was a little homesick last year, and it was tough coming in after playing with 16-, 17-, 18-year-olds. He was a key part of why I felt so good in this room last year.

"It's tough to take and tough to see, but he's a guy I can't thank enough."

---John Vogl

 

Darcy Regier

Proof of energy is in Sabres' numbers

You can do whatever you want with numbers but it's hard to argue the Sabres' consistency in winning the last two games: Four goals, 39 shots on goal and 24 hits in each has produced wins over Atlanta and Ottawa.

"The energy in our game is better again," coach Lindy Ruff said today as most of the Sabres took the morning off to prepare for tonight's game against Detroit. "We came out of that five games in eight 
nights and there was not a lot of energy. We want to push the tempo but if you're not getting there, you can't. Our chances were way down, our opportunities were way down. Our last two games, the energy in our game is that much better."

One of the Sabres' best players the last two games has been Patrick Kaleta, who had season-high totals of six shots on goal and seven hits Friday night. He has 11 hits and 10 shots the last two games and has shown discipline in his play, taking the hit when it's available rather than running all over the ice nilly-willy.

"I've talked to Lindy before and sometimes I get too rambunctious and a little bit too enthusiastic," Kaleta said. "But I felt these past two games have been my best two games of the season with moving my feet and getting the puck to the net, being a threat. When the hit's there I've got to take it and that's what we've been working on."

That's a conversation I've had with him. There's times where [a big hit] is available and there's times where  you have to be sound position player, be a good player. Their line [Kaleta-Paul Gaustad-Nathan Gerbe] really played well. ... Offensively, the way they controlled play, they garnered puck possession and that line did a nice job for us."

Don't look for any changes in the Buffalo lineup. Ryan Miller will again be in goal. Andrej Sekera will again be a scratch. We're awaiting the noon re-entry waiver deadline on Craig Rivet. Stay tuned.

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

Vote for your three stars

Live from the Arena: Sabres vs. Senators

Greetings from the Arena for Game Two of Pegulapalooza: It's the Sabres against their former archrivals, the Ottawa Senators. Who are these guys? The Ottawa lineup tonight features immortals such as Zack Smith, Bobby Butler, Erik Condra, Francis Lessard, Corey Locke and Roman Wick. Lots of guys traded and others (Daniel Alfredsson and Sabres nemesis Chris Neil, to name two) are out injured. Odd.

A Buffalo win tonight would be four against the Sens this season, a first for the Sabres since 2001-02. What's really strange is the fact the visiting team has won the last eight games in this series. The Sabres went 3 for 3 in Ottawa this year while the Sens won the only meeting here on Oct. 22 as Alfredsson's empty-net goal was his 1,000th NHL point.

The Sabres dressed all seven defensemen in warmup so no idea yet if Andrej Sekera remains a scratch. No word yet on any claim of Craig Rivet off re-entry waivers. Teams have until noon tomorrow to make that claim.

Ryan Miller has a .947 save percentage and a 1.78 GAA in his last four games. He could become the first Buffalo goalie to beat Ottawa four times in a season since Dominik Hasek did it in 2000-01. Miller, by the way, is the subject of the gameday poster in Saturday's print editions. Be sure to pick one up!

The Sabres are in their second home back-to-back of the season. The Detroit Red Wings are already in town (their equipment is downstairs ready to be loaded in the locker room when Ottawa leaves), and be sure to check out the Sabres' notebook in Saturday's paper for an update on the Wings. There's your cheap plug alert for the night.

Out of town watch: Carolina is hosting injury-riddled Pittsburgh, the Rangers are at Washington, Florida is at Atlanta and red-hot New Jersey is at Tampa Bay. The Devils are 16-1-2 and have gone from 27 points out of the playoffs to just nine. That's crazy.

Keep it here for all your updates, Pegula sightings, Pegula tweets, etc.

7:27 p.m.: Sekera is the scratch for Buffalo.

Buffalo starters: Vanek-Connolly-Pominville-Butler-Myers. Wow. There's some odd combos. Goal: Miller
Ottawa starters: Michalek-Butler-Spezza-Phillips-Lee. Goal: Anderson. 

7:32 p.m.: Great tweaks on the opening intro video with Pegula's presser and scenes from Wednesday night. And it ends with "Winning is Not a Goal. It is a Belief" on the screen. Gotta love that quote. Untouchable.

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

Third Period

9:21 p.m: The puck is dropped.

15:00 left: Not many whistles so far. Hard to blog, write story at same time. Somebody ice the puck!

12:34 left: Shots are 5-2 for Ottawa. Sabres certainly need some insurance here. Good effort on the road by the depleted Sens, basically playing with a bunch of AHL players. Sabres need to sew this one up -- and then play a lot better tomorrow with the Red Wings here.

12:25 left: They heard me. There's your insurance. Hecht bangs home a Stafford rebound from the edge of the crease on a two-on-one. Sabres lead, 3-1. Hecht's 10th.

9:37 left: Sabres a little loose. Miller robs rookie Corey Locke on a deflection on the doorstep.

3:00 left: Sabres still in control. Your friendly beat writer/blogger in control. Story done. Sorry, Ryan. You can't wait till after deadline to write!

1:55 left: Uh-oh. Michalek with a wrister high to make it 3-2.

It's over: A 4-2 win on Vanek's empty netter with 31.5 left.

Second Period

8:27 p.m.: The puck is dropped. Bad news out of town as Carolina leads Pittsburgh, 3-0, and the Rangers lead Washington, 3-0.

18:39 left: Anderson stops Pominville after a nice feed from Vanek.

18:00 left: Anderson again, on a Montador snapshot via an Ennis feed. Sabres will eventually cash in on some of this open ice.

12:52 left: Niedermayer for hooking. Shots are 5-3 for Buffalo in the period, 15-11 overall.

10:11 left: McCormick bangs it home from the slot after a pass from the point by Montador goes by Vanek but richochets off the end boards right into the slot. Vanek did a great job of puck possession on that shift. Sabres lead, 2-0.

8:03 left: Vanek a little gimpy after getting dumped along the boards by Michalek but he gets up and joins the play as the Sabres dominate delayed penalty time in the zone. Michalek gets a boarding call.

5:36 left: After a wild sequence (Myers broke up a 3-on-1, Stafford stopped by Anderson on a 4-on-1), the Senators come right back with a long pass to Jason Spezza and he smokes Miller with the backhand on a breakaway. Sabres had a power play and an odd-man to go up 3-0. Now it's a game. Sabres lead, 2-1.

4:02 left: Miller with two saves after a terrible giveaway in the slot by Hecht. The Sabres have not been good with the puck in their own zone in this one.

2:08 left: Miller with a nice grab on Michalek after Vanek and Leopold had shots from the slot fail to get to the net. Buffalo has outshot Ottawa, 17-9, in this period and 27-17 for the game.

1:34 left: Kaleta runs over Svatos at center ice. Few seconds later, he puts it in on the rebound of his own one-handed shot and crashes into Anderson. Goal waved off for now. It looked like a kick. And on top that, Kaleta is gone for goaltender interference. We've seen Miller run over a lot worse than that at times this year with no call. Happened in Ottawa as a matter of face in the last meeting. And on the replay, it wasn't a kick. Foot never moved. 

End-2nd: Sabres hold the 2-1 lead. Shots were 18-11 for Buffalo and are 28-19 through two.

First Period

7:37 p.m.: The puck is dropped.

15:51 left: Pretty scrappy play so far. No shots for the first 3:02 until Miller robbed Milan Michalek from right in front. Anderson just stopped Pominville's deflection for Buffalo's first shot. It's 2-1 for Ottawa so far.

13:35 left: Terry Pegula is in the owner's box with Rene Robert and they're celebrating Mike Grier's breakaway goal, a neat deke to the backhand. Grier outskated a diving Chris Campoli for the puck at center ice and got away to score his fourth, from McCormick. Sabres lead, 1-0. Grier had been scoreless in nine games and had one goal (Feb. 4 at Pittsburgh) in his last 42 games. Ouch.

10:54 left: Weber goes for boarding on a tough hit against Bobby Butler that drew plenty of attention from the Senators. Derek Roy has joined Pegula and Robert in the owner's box. Interesting that Robert is here two nights in a row. A big welcome back to him. He's gotta be thrilled Larry Quinn and Tom Golisano are outta here.

8:55 left: A Vanek howitzer from the right wing off the post. Anderson hesitated coming out to get the puck and Vanek fired as he was trying to back into the net. He who hesitates is usually lost, right?

7:36 left: Yep, it's a whole new world here. During a stop in play, Sabretooth came down the aisle in the 100 level with a birthday cake as the Happy Birthday music played. The recipient? Jessie Pegula, who turned 17 yesterday. She was wearing the classic blue No. 4 with Pegula on the back that the owners' kids got Tuesday. And she got a good hand when she was saluted over the PA.

7:17 left: Francis Lessard for cross-checking Kaleta in front.

5:58 left: Ennis stopped point-blank after a great feed across the goalmouth by Gerbe.

2:42 left: Leopold for interference after a long shift in which the veteran was an absolute trainwreck. He gave the puck away at least three times -- including a horrible one right in front to Marek Svatos that forced Miller to be alert. Just checked: Leopold was on the ice 1:54 on that shift. Couldn't get off the ice and a tired player took a penalty.

The Sabres' lines tonight have looked like this: Vanek-Connolly-Pominville, Kaleta-Gaustad-Gerbe, Ennis-Hecht-Stafford, Niedermayer-McCormick-Grier. Defense pairs: Butler-Myers, Leopold-Montador, Morrisonn-Weber.

37.8 left: Kaleta sneaks around two Sens at center ice and gets a good chance on Anderson, who stops the slapper and a rebound.

End-1st: Shots are 10-8 for the Sabres and they hold their 1-0 lead.

Quiet morning in HSBC

With the weather as lovely as it is, many of the Sabres' Clarence-based players stayed home this morning rather than head downtown. Nathan Gerbe and Andrej Sekera were on the ice in full equipment and Steve Montador and Drew Stafford were on in sweats. That was about it.

The new-look Ottawa Senators hit town with a lineup filled with players from Binghamton of the AHL and are joined today by waiver pickup Marek Svatos, claimed from Nashville. Goaltender Craig Anderson, acquired from Colorado for Brian Elliott, has stopped 70 of 71 shots in the two games since he's been acquired.

Center Corey Locke and winger Roman Wick were recalled today from Binghamton, and will play tonight for the Senators. Locke, who has one point in three games earlier this season, leads the AHL in scoring with 72 points in 51 games (18-54-72). Meanwhile, Svatos and Wick become the 11th and 12th players to make his NHL debut with Ottawa this year.

The Sens are trying for their first three-game winning streak since November. They are 3-1-1 in their last five after an horrendous 1-13-4 skid that prompted the breakup of the club.

The Sabres won all three meetings this year in Ottawa while the Senators won here on Oct. 22. In fact, the last eight meetings have been won by the visiting team. Odd. With the lack of players on hand, no idea if Lindy Ruff makes changes to the lineup.

Daniel Alfredsson, Chris Neil, Pascal LeClaire and Sergei Gonchar are all out for Ottawa with injuries. Elliott, Mike Fisher, Chris Kelly, Jarkko Ruutu, Alex Kovalev are among those who have been traded.  Here's Lindy Ruff's chat with reporters this morning with plenty of talk about the Senators.


Lindy Ruff

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

Audio: Terry Pegula meets The News' Editorial Board

Sabres owner Terry Pegula and team President Ted Black met with editors, reporters and other Buffalo News staffers for an editorial board meeting on Wednesday, Feb. 23.

Listen to the full meeting here (42m49s):

Here's a part of the discussion about head coach Lindy Ruff and general manager Darcy Regier (7m55s):

The conversation included questions about Pegula's wealth and what it means for the team (11m10s):

Here's Pegula talking about what made him make the move to buy the Sabres (1m54s):

Those participating in the meeting included News President Warren T. Colville, Editor and Vice President Margaret Sullivan, Assistant Managing Editor Elizabeth Kahn, Sports Editor Steve Jones, Deputy Editorial Page Editor Kevin Walter, editorial writer Dawn Bracely and the sports department's Jerry Sullivan, Bucky Gleason, Mike Harrington and John Vogl.

News reporter and columnist Denise Jewell Gee recorded audio and video at the meeting.

Miller may start back-to-back

Ryan Miller was a game-changer during Wednesday’s 4-1 victory over Atlanta. The goaltender may get the chance to be one again twice this weekend.

The Sabres have back-to-back games with Ottawa coming to HSBC Arena on Friday and Detroit visiting the arena Saturday. Coach Lindy Ruff said Miller may start them both. The goaltender will play against Ottawa, and the coach will evaluate the workload to determine whether to go back to Miller against the Red Wings.

"Ryan and I had a good conversation about where he’s at, where the schedule’s at," Ruff said. "We know the possibilities where we want to play another goaltender. I think it’s going to depend on how we play as a team, the type of action he gets. The good part about this week is it has been all home. We haven’t had any travel. We’re making most of the game-day skates optional, so he can get extra rest there."

Miller stopped 40 of 41 shots against the Thrashers, one game after turning aside 37 of 39 during a 2-1 loss to Washington.

"He’s feeling a lot better about his game," Ruff said today. "I thought last night he was a difference-maker in the game. A couple short-handed situations where it could’ve went the other way and the tide could have changed in the game, and he made the big saves for us."

---John Vogl

Rivet clears waivers, will be on re-entry waivers Friday

No team claimed Sabres captain Craig Rivet on waivers today, so Buffalo has assigned him to minor-league Portland. It is merely a paper transaction, however, as he will not leave town or play for the Pirates. He will be placed on re-entry waivers at noon Friday with the hopes that some team will claim him at 50 percent of his salary. The Sabres would be responsible for the other half. They will learn at noon Saturday whether that will happen.

"We’ll continue to work to try and get him playing somewhere in the National Hockey League and allow him to continue his career," General Manager Darcy Regier said in HSBC Arena. "He also knows what the next step is with respect to trying to help him resume his career, so there’s another step here that will take place tomorrow, and we’ll go from there."

Rivet is in the final year of a $3.5 million contract, and he has about $846,000 remaining.

"It's prorated," Regier said. "From trade deadline on there’s 40 days left in the season, and so I might argue that Craig Rivet is good value from that point on. On re-entry, it’s 50 percent of that, so again I’m really hopeful that we can help him here."

Rivet hasn't played for the Sabres since Jan. 11. He is the eighth defenseman on the eight-man depth chart and has also been passed over in favor of minor-league call-up Marc-Andre Gragnani. The 36-year-old has one goal, two assists and a minus-5 rating in 23 games.

He and agent Pat Morris requested a trade this week, but Regier was unsuccessful.

"It’s tough because I don’t want to leave here," Rivet said. "We’ve got a super bunch of guys in this room, and everybody in this organization has been fantastic. It makes for a difficult decision, but for me I feel that I can play in this league. If it’s not going to be here, then I need to give myself an opportunity to play someplace else."

Below are today's interviews with Regier and Rivet. The captain spoke before he learned he had cleared waivers.

---John Vogl

 

 Darcy Regier

 

 Craig Rivet

Pegula has an admirer

So as I walk into the HSBC Arena media entrance this morning, the first thing I see is a huge vase filled with flowers. The card is addressed to Terry Pegula, Buffalo Sabres.

It didn't take the new owner long to get an admirer, eh?

---John Vogl

 

02-24-11_1127

Inside the NHL -- Live Chat

Pegula on his opening night: 'It was a thrill'

Terry Pegula visited the Sabres' locker room after Wednesday's 4-1 win over Atlanta and was presented the game puck by Lindy Ruff. He was still inside when the doors opened to the media and reporters swarmed him as he turned around after congratulating Tyler Myers at the big guy's locker.

Pegula was not visible to many fans during the game because he was in the back of the owner's box watching the game on television with the French Connection. One problem: He had no idea he was actually in the owner's box. Asked where he was, he drew laughs when he said, "I don't know where the owner's box is. I was in a box. Was I in the owner's box?"

He admitted his first game as owner was a blur. He couldn't remember who gave him the puck until a PR official reminded him it was Ruff.

"I've never done this before. I had the double-whammy," he said. "I spoke with the French Connection all night and watched the game on the television in the back. It was a thrill."

Here's the audio from Pegula's chat with reporters.


Terry Pegula

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

Vote for your three stars

Regier: Rivet requested trade, attempt failed

Sabres captain Craig Rivet, who hasn't played since Jan. 11, requested a trade this week, but General Manager Darcy Regier was unable to move the defenseman. In order to give Rivet a chance to catch on with another team, Regier waved the 36-year-old today.

Teams have until noon Thursday to claim Rivet, who is in the final year of a contract that pays him $3.5 million. Regier said he will further discuss options for Rivet on Thursday if no one claims the captain.

Regier insisted the move was done because of Monday's approaching trade deadline and was not part of new owner Terry Pegula's pledge of no financial restraints. For the full audio of Regier's chat, click below.

---John Vogl


Live from Pegulaville: Sabres vs. Thrashers

Greetings from high atop HSBC Arena for Opening Night II, also known as Terry Pegula's unveiling. It's the Sabres and the Atlanta Thrashers in a key game with the teams deadlocked at 60 points. 

A few signs at one end by Sections 313-314: "In Pegula We Trust" as well as "Welcome Back Home, Terry!" and "Tom, Thanks for the Ride, The Fans." Above 326 is a sign with the Sabres logo that simply says, "Hockey Heaven."

Darcy Regier will be speaking to the media in a few minutes regarding the Craig Rivet situation. The teams are skating to different warmup music than we have heard each night. It's still too loud but maybe I'm just a fuddy-duddy. Stay tuned.

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

A new opening video is playing

7 p.m.: Pegula crying on the HD board with old film of Perreault running. Crowd hushed. Crowd applauds at "You're my hero."

7:01 p.m.: Pegula saying the team's existence is to win the Stanley Cup gets a huge roar.

7:02 p.m. "Welcome to the new era of Buffalo Sabres hockey," the board says as the players take the ice.

7:03 p.m: Buffalo starters announced: Ennis-Hecht-Vanek (at right wing)-Leopold-Montador-Miller.

7:04 p.m.: Doug Allen time.

7:07 p.m.: "Ter-ry, Ter-ry" chants as the anthems end.

7:08 p.m: Little skit with the French Connection reading TBN (thanks guys) before Pegula takes the ice to a standing ovation that lasts a minute and the French Connection comes out, no introduction necessary, in white classic jerseys drawing another roar. Pegula is joined by his two sons. Arm around Robert, they pose for pictures and Pegula is clearly emotional. Pegula moves between Perreault and Martin as the crowd roars again.

7:10 p.m. Pominville and Atlanta's Andrew Ladd at center ice as Matthew Pegula, 11, drops the first puck of his father's new era. Pegula's wife and daughters watched from the penalty box area.

7:13 p.m.: The puck is dropped.

Third Period

18:06 left: Sabres all over Le Thrash from the puck drop. Ennis finally converts a Hecht wraparound for his 13th. First goal in 11 games. Sabres lead, 4-1.

14;01 left: Sabres in coast mode with a three-goal lead. It took a looooong time for them to heat up in this one but the bottom line is the bottom line and it's a good one so far. 

12:00 left: Terry Pegula's MSG interview was shown on the HD board between periods. He had no idea the French Connection was coming out? There have been no other Pegula sightings on the board tonight. He's low-keyed it. His daughters are said to be in the 100 level.

8:00 left: Rene Robert did the 50-50 draw and screamed into the mic, "Welcome to Pegulatown!" He didn't want to get within miles and miles of Golisano and Quinntown. Nor did they want him around. A new feeling indeed.

5:53 left: Coast mode. Sabres will have 62 points. They will be three behind idle Carolina with two games in hand and six behind the Rangers with three games in hand.

2:00 left: Shots are 39-36 for Buffalo. 

59.0 left: Now it's 40-39 Atlanta after a sparking glove grab on Enstrom. Easy to forget Miller tonight. But that's a 39-save effort. Four straight solid ones for him.

It's over: A 4-1 win puts Pegula at 1-0 as an owner as the crowd roars through the final few seconds. Final shots were 41-39 for Atlanta.

Second Period

8:04 p.m; We're under way. A couple eagle-eyes on Twitter point out Vanek has an 'A' and Hecht does not. We'll see after the game if there's any significance there. The team sometimes switches the As on the road but Hecht seems to have one most nights. I have no idea where the Pegulas are sitting. They are not in the owner's box that Tom Golisano used. The "Tweetybird Twins" tweeted earlier they would be in the stands. No idea if that's where Terry and Kim Pegula are too.

18:03 left: Tobias Enstrom for delay of game for the Thrashers. Here are photos from the pregame ceremony from The News' Jim McCoy.

10:38 left: I might be back on line. I might not be. Hopefully Terry Pegula and Ted Black will send I-Evolve packing (whoever they are) and bring in a real Internet provider to this building and not this amateur outfit. The game is tied at 1-1 after Andrew Ladd scored at 5:31, 13 seconds after a Shaone Morrisonn interference penalty. The crowd booed the Sabres lustily at the 11-minute mark. Paul Gaustad and Mark Stuart just fought.

9:40 left: Shots are 10-9 for Atlanta in this period. Sabres lulling everyone to sleep. Probably the Pegulas too.

9:21 left: Chris Thornburn for goalie interference.

8:00 left: Reports on Twitter that at least some of Pegula's family are in the 100 level behind the Bufaflo bench.

7:30 left: Power play booed again after two giveaways.

6:52 left: McCormick goes with ex-Sabre Eric Boulton.

5:50 left: Butler for slashing.

1:08 left: Gaustad goes hard to the net, Pavelec makes one stop and Gaustad beats Mark Stuart to the rebound, banging it home for the go-ahead goal. His ninth. THAT is the kind of effort this team needs to see. Sabres lead, 2-1.

37.9 left: Pominville pounds home a Myers rebound aftger the big guy's shot from the point clubbed Pavelec right in the mask. Pominville's 15th. Sabres lead, 3-1. Finally, some noise.

First Period

15;32 left: Shots are 3-1 for Atlanta. How about the Sabres coming out flying with the boost from Pegula? Next case. Isn't happening.

13:56 left: Craig Rivet requested a trade is the story Darcy Regier gave us a few minutes ago. And he's sticking to it. That's why the captain is on waivers. By the way, there's no sign of Pegula yet in the owner's box. The service elevator wasn't working within the last hour, which happens here from time to time. Maybe Pegula can get that fixed while he gets some real Internet service in the press box too.

12:47 left: Shots were 6-2 for Atlanta and not much was happening on the ice or in the crowd. But big Tyler Myers changes that, grabbing the puck at center ice and bursting into the Thrashers' zone to beat Ondrej Pavelec with a booming slapshot. His ninth. Unassisted. Sabres lead, 1-0.

9:31 left: Shots are 8-4 for the Thrashers. Sabres lead but count me unimpressed with the adrenalin rush they got from having a new owner. 

8:54 left: Atlanta's Dustin Byfuglien goes for delay of game as he swats the puck out of mid-air and it goes high just over the glass into the stands between the benches.

5:25 left: Pominville gone for hooking. 

1:43 left: Miller's best save, point-blank on Byfuglien on a 2-on-1.

End-1st: Sabres lead, 1-0. Shots are 10-10.

Bulletin: It's the French Connection

Stay tuned for our live blog  at the top of the hour but this quick note first: The French Connection has been spotted in the building by The Buffalo News and will be involved in tonight's on-ice ceremony with Terry Pegula. It begins at 7:07.

The teams are on the ice for warmups: Above Section 313 is a sign that says "In Pegula We Trust."

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

Labatt, Sabres will remain a team

Local Labatt drinkers feeling blue because Molson will become the official sponsor of the NHL have no reason to shed a tear in their beer. Labatt and the Buffalo Sabres will remain a team.

The NHL announced Tuesday that Molson Canadian had obtained exclusive league rights in the beer sponsorship category, including the rights to the "Official Beer of the NHL" designation, starting next season. Labatt USA, which is headquartered in Buffalo and pours beverages throughout HSBC Arena, made it clear Wednesday that it will remain the official sponsor of the Sabres.

"Buffalo's a hockey town, and Labatt is Buffalo's hockey beer. We are the official sponsor of the Buffalo Sabres and will be for years to come," said Peter Bodenham, vice president of marketing for Labatt.  "At the arena and throughout Western New York, we will promote our sponsorship and support our local team."

The longtime drinking contest between the two Canadian beer giants threatened to spill into a courtroom Tuesday after the league made its announcement. The NHL's seven-year deal with Molson Coors in Canada and MillerCoors in the United States is worth a reported $375 million, but Labatt insists it was in line to continue as the NHL's beverage of choice.

"Labatt has been the official beer sponsor of the NHL in Canada for more than a decade, and we began sponsorship renewal negotiations with the league several months ago to secure sponsorship rights," said Charlie Angelakos, vice president of corporate affairs for Labatt Breweries. "These negotiations with the NHL proceeded positively and in good faith to the point where the parties had agreed upon the terms of renewal of a sponsorship agreement until 2014. Nothing has happened to change that situation."

NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly disagreed.

"Labatt has been and continues to be a terrific partner, but we strongly disagree with their assertion that an agreement was in place for the 2011-12 NHL season," Daly said in a statement. "We have no further comment at this time."

Either way, teams can strike individual deals with beer makers. Labatt dominates the taps and signage in HSBC Arena, including a huge, neon "Blue Zone" sign that hangs in the atrium and can be seen by fans as they walk down Washington Street toward the building.

"Fans can stop by the Blue Zone or anywhere else in the arena to grab a Labatt Blue while watching the game," Bodenham said. "Buffalo hockey fans also can expect to see a continued link between the Buffalo Sabres and Labatt."

---John Vogl

Sabres' first roster move: Rivet on waivers

Looking for the first move by Darcy Regier and, hence, Terry Pegula? The Sabres have put captain Craig Rivet on waivers. They're obviously hoping someone claims Rivet, who is still owed about $850,000 for this season.

Teams generally do not make waiver claims public, in case the player clears without being claimed. Rivet has not played since Jan. 11 and clearly won't play for the Sabres anymore. He's No. 8 on the defense chart.

Would someone pick up the veteran at this point? We'll see. If he goes unclaimed, that's when things get interesting.  Rivet, by the way, was on the ice early for today's morning skate.

5:30 p.m. update: The latest is this is simply a way for the Sabres to allow Rivet to continue his NHL career. Darcy Regier is going to address the media before tonight's game. He would not normally speak until the waiver process is complete. Almost certain he'll say they're cutting ties with Rivet if he clears and not messing around with Portland or bringing him back.

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

Thrashers do right by Dudley

Terry Pegula said yesterday that  Darcy Regier is staying on as Sabres GM so the new owner isn't eyeing any sort of search for a new man for the job. One candidate that fans and media have thrown around a lot if the job opened was Atlanta GM Rick Dudley, the former Sabres forward. That talk is now over.

Dudley has agreed to a four-year contract extension with the Thrashers, NHL sources have confirmed. Terms are unknown but Dudley certainly would have been a hot commodity for the Sabres and other clubs had he become a free agent.

Concern the Thrashers might be moving from Atlanta to perhaps Winnipeg was no real concern to Dudley, who maintains a home in Lewiston and is on the road scouting much of the time. Dudley is not slated to be in Buffalo tonight.

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

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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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