Happy Thursday. A bit of a late start to the morning papers because: A) making phone calls for the Rick Jeanneret story I woke up to see; and 2) a bunch of us had a few sodas and checked out "Hangover 2" at midnight. The movie is definitely worth the effort, with the first two-thirds being pretty darn funny.
OK, with that out of the way, here's your look around the NHL, starting right here in the B-lo ...
*The Buffalo Sabres broadcast team of Rick Jeanneret and Harry Neale will work a reduced schedule of games next season, team President Ted Black announced Thursday in a press release.
The pair will work all home games but a reduced road schedule of 10 to 15 games next season. The road schedule will be set after the 2011-12 NHL regular season schedule is released. There was no word on who will do the other games but it was announced that Rob Ray will join Jeanneret and Neale in the booth for their road games.
"It's no secret that the constant travel has been wearing on me over the years, and there were several times last season when I thought that it might be my last," Jeanneret said in the press release. "That's why I presented this arrangement to Sabres management. I think it's the best of both worlds, and allows me to continue doing the job I love."
(From what I've gathered so far, the Sabres really do not know who will do the other games yet. They've been getting calls and resumes for years from all over with people saying "When Rick retires ..." so now they expect to get bombarded. They'll find good candidates. This is a desirable market for that job.)
*There is still no word on whether Marcus Foligno, the newest Buffalo Sabre, will start his minor-league career in Rochester or Portland. But once he gets to the NHL, he'll have access to one of the top dressing room facilities in the league.
The Sabres unveiled extensive HSBC Arena renovation plans Wednesday, shortly after signing Foligno to a three-year contract potentially worth $2.48 million. The son of former Buffalo captain Mike Foligno will start next season in the American Hockey League, but the Sabres refused to divulge where their affiliate will be based.
*Facing elimination in the Eastern Conference finals, the Tampa Bay Lightning knew they could count on Martin St. Louis to make a difference. What he did - on and off the ice - to help his team stay alive against the Boston Bruins hardly came as a surprise on Wednesday night.
"I think that's what you play for," St. Louis said after scoring twice and assisting on a third goal as the Lightning rallied to beat the Bruins 5-4 in Game Six. Game Seven is Friday night in Boston.
*Trevor Linden is tired of celebrating a loss as the greatest moment in Vancouver Canucks history. Seventeen years after he captained the Canucks to their last Stanley Cup finals and three years since his last game, Linden hopes this year's team, still loaded with former teammates, can give the city something really worth commemorating.
"This team I believe is going to win and they will be celebrated for all the right reasons," Linden told the Associated Press on Wednesday, a day after the Canucks clinched a finals berth with a 3-2 double-overtime win against the San Jose Sharks.
*The Sharks head into another offseason wondering what it will take to get this supremely talented team past the conference final hurdle.
"You could ask 27 teams and I think they're a little jealous at the success we've had," captain Joe Thornton said. "For whatever reason you know you get down to the top two teams in your conference and they're pretty good teams. To get here is an accomplishment, but next year we've got to beat it."
*Kyle Okposo agreed to a five-year, $14 million deal Wednesday to stay with the New York Islanders.
(Okposo is good buddies with Drew Stafford, a fellow restricted free agent. Sabres GM Darcy Regier said Wednesday he has had preliminary talks with Stafford's agent, which I took to mean they may have said hello in passing at the Memorial Cup or something.)
*Brian Rafalski chose quality time with his wife and three kids over making $6 million next season with the Detroit Red Wings. The three-time Stanley Cup winner and two-time Olympic silver medalist confirmed Wednesday he's retiring after 11 seasons in the NHL, leaving one lucrative season left on his contract.
(I initially just skimmed over this story the last few days, but News co-worker Fletcher Doyle made a good point Wednesday that this impacts the Sabres. Buffalo is in need of a quality defenseman or two. With Rafalski's retirement, Detroit is, too. And the Red Wings have Rafalski's $6 million to dangle. The Wings certainly have the edge over Buffalo in the recruiting race for a D-man.)