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Buffalo News hockey writer joins Twitter

It's taken a once-in-a-lifetime event to get me to do something I said I'd never do.

I've joined Twitter.

Normally, that's worth a shrug and (hopefully) a follow. But I'm guessing longtime readers of The Buffalo News and Sabres Edge will remember I've made a few disparaging remarks about the Website through the years. (Just Google "John Vogl twitter" and you'll be transported to discussions of hip waders, anti-vomit pills and a word that rhymes with Reese's.)

So, I feel an explanation is in order.

The Sabres are leaving for Europe on Saturday, and only three media folks are going. Two already deliver their news via Twitter. After much urging from my friend and Executive Sports Editor Lisa Wilson, I began to agree that all three should have a Twitter account. Then, after a long chat today with Twitter-user Tim Graham, another great friend I consider the best reporter I've ever been around, I decided to sign up.

As you no doubt know, the world of Twitter has continued through a rapid evolution. It's a necessary site to find news, with journalists everywhere posting to Twitter before their own newspapers or Websites. It's almost unacceptable to not be on it.

So, with that, I'm in.

There are still many things I find appalling about the site. The discourse tends toward bitterness and negativity. The best quote I've ever heard about Twitter was this: "When someone is rude and full of complaints at work, we avoid them. When they're rude and full of complaints on Twitter, we follow them." I'm a positive-thinking guy with a dream job and a great life. I have little desire to be dragged into muck that Twitter can become.

But, the evolution of the site's newsworthiness coupled with the chance to bring readers (and followers) an exclusive look at the Sabres' trip to Europe outweighs the negatives. See you at

---John Vogl

Hecht progressing but unlikely to play for Sabres in his hometown

Jochen Hecht might miss his once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

The Sabres forward, who suffered concussion symptoms after getting hit in the head by teammate Shaone Morrisonn's helmet Sept. 18, returned to practice with his teammates today. However, he is unlikely to be ready for Tuesday's preseason game in his hometown of Mannheim, Germany.

"Any time you’re back out it’s a good sign, so hopefully he progresses," coach Lindy Ruff said in First Niagara Center. "I would say the answer for Tuesday is no. He hasn’t been involved in any practices of any level, and I wouldn’t consider that an option."

Hecht, who wore a noncontact jersey today, is hopeful he can progress enough to get in regular practices. The Sabres' exhibition Tuesday is against his former team, Adler Mannheim. Buffalo plays its final NHL preseason game tonight in Washington.

"I’m making progress," said Hecht, who also was sidelined by a concussion last season. "I’ve been skating on my own for a couple days, and today I did the pregame skate with the team, so it’s a step in the right direction.

"You worry about your health, and you want to make sure when you come back that you’re healthy and not taking steps backward. ... Every case is an individual case. I’m just worrying about how I feel, how I can make sure when I come back that I won’t have any problems again."

---John Vogl

Sabres working on PP; Hecht skating

The Sabres' final preseason morning skate in North America is under way, and power-play work is dominating the early part of the session.

The Sabres have two units practicing the power play, and they are:

Jason Pominville-Luke Adam-Thomas Vanek, with Christian Ehrhoff and Marc-Andre Gragnani on the points; and Tyler Ennis-Ville Leino-Drew Stafford, with Tyler Myers and Jordan Leopold.

Jochen Hecht, who has been nursing a head injury for nearly two weeks, is wearing a red, no-contact jersey, but he is working regularly on the penalty-killing units.

---John Vogl

Food frenzy for new season at the arena

I had to get some hockey stories done first but I wanted to say a few words, or more than a few, about the media preview the Sabres provided Thursday afternoon in the Harbour Club for their new food offerings at the concession stands and suites inside First Niagara Center. It was spectacular.

(Disclaimer: There were no prices provided. It was a free preview. I realize fans aren't as fortunate. It's an arena. Expect to pay. Now we return to talking about the food).

Be sure to read the report in Friday's paper by food critic Andrew Galarneau (if you're not reading his Hungry For More blog, why not?). He tried some of the food and interviewed arena executive chef Scott Green, who pointed out in opening remarks how his staff was going for more local-themed dishes and how he challenged them to brainstorm over the summer. Mission accomplished. 

Concession stands throughout the building have been renovated and some offerings have been moved or added, such as an ice cream stand now available on the 300 level.

OK, now a rundown.  We'll start with additions in the concession areas which, after all, is where most of you eat from. There were six items and my favorite was easily the chicken parmigiana sandwich, cheesy with tomato sauce. Next was the steak sandwich with white cheddar.

There was also an Anchor Bar chicken finger sandwich, home style pizza slices like Buffalo chicken cut in larger pieces, the Main & Fillmore hot dog (chili and cheese) and the Downtown hot dog (chili and sauerkraut).  I'm not a huge hot dog guy and didn't try them. Others who did said they were excellent. The Buffalo chicken pizza is one of five specialty options that will rotate during the season.

The Sabres are really puttin' on the ritz this year in the Harbour Club and the suites. If you're lucky enough to get in there, they had oodles of stuff on display for us. Too many to list but I'll give you the favorites I sampled. On a five-fork scale, these all deserve four or five forks.

---lobster mac and cheese topped with panko and truffle oil
---grilled steak flatbread with tomato, basil, red onion, olive oil and white garlic sauce
---margarita shrimp cocktail with lime sauce
---Hat Trick quesedillas (beef tenderloin in sun-dried tomato wraps,  chicken in honey-wheat wrap and vegeterian in a spinach wrap)
---Buffalo's BBBLT (bacon, pancetta, Canadian bacon, mozzarella, tomato ailoi and romaine on a French loat). This one is not a low-fat dish, as you may have surmised.

Now I'm starving again. Too bad Lloyd the taco truck isn't still parked outside the arena.

---Mike Harrington

Back on Twitter

A quick programming note: I'm back on Twitter under @TBNbucky. It's a new address from one I used during the Olympics. Please update your rosters.

---Bucky Gleason

Practice report: Kaleta fine, Roy may sit out Friday

Some updates from Sabreland heading into Friday night's final North American exhibition game at Washington:

---Derek Roy practiced fully but isn't likely to play tomorrow. "Unless he really feels almost 100 percent, it doesn't make a lot of sense to use him and put him  in any way, shape or form of jeopardy to play in a regular season game," said Lindy Ruff.

---Patrick Kaleta has quite the welt under his right eye but is otherwise unscathed from the hit he took  Wednesday night from Thomas Vanek. He praticed fully.

"It is practice and stuff but it happened. It was a good hit," Kaleta said. "He felt bad about it. All in all, he smoked me. .. You practice hard. Each and every day we want to get better. If you start smoking guys like that, I'm pretty sure it will be better off for our team. I just gotta stay out of the way. I'd be the first one there to back him and any of our teammates up."

---Ruff said he's toying with splitting goaltending Friday between Ryan Miller and Jhonas Enroth. It was originally going to be Miller's game.

---Jochen Hecht has skated on his own after practice the last couple of days.

---Mike Harrington

Open practice report: Kaleta shaken up, Ruff says he'll name captain in Europe

The Sabres gave fans a little of everything Wednesday night during their open workout in First Niagara Center: Some regular practice drills, four-on-four scrimmaging and a shootout contest that saw the assistant coaches all get blanked and the 3,000 or so in the house chanting for Lindy Ruff to take a shot.

Ruff declined, citing "sore wrist,  sore back." Then he admitted he declined, "due to the fact I was going to embarrass myself like the other four guys did." All of the assistants tried shots and failed to score.

Right at the end of the four-on-four session,  Patrick Kaleta left the ice clearly woozy after a collision in front of the net with Thomas Vanek. Kaleta appeared to have his head down and Vanek drilled him with a shoulder-to-chin hit that drew oohs and aahs from the crowd. 

"He's shaken but I think he's gonna be OK," Ruff said of Kaleta. "He got a little bit of a shot to the head there. Whether Van leaned in too much or Patty came in with too much momentum, you don't want anybody hurt in practice."

Ruff has been joking with the media this month about constant questions regarding his team's vacant captaincy. It had been a few days since we talked about it so I asked him again Wednesday night and we (finally) got some news -- the Sabres will put the C on someone's jersey overseas.

Said Ruff: "You don't have an opportunity very often to name a captain in Europe."

I was wondering if the Sabres might do it Wednesday night in front of the fans. Fair enough. We have one answer. Ruff wouldn't say if he's naming a permanent captain or a monthly one.

---Mike Harrington


Boyes ruling OK but Sabres surprised there was no suspension on hit against Gaustad

In the eyes of the Buffalo Sabres, new NHL discipline czar Brendan Shanahan probably got one right but definitely got one wrong when looking at questionable hits from Saturday's game against Toronto in First Niagara Center.

The Sabres acknowledged after practice Tuesday that the two-game preseason suspension of Brad Boyes for his elbow to the head of Toronto's Joe Colborne was reasonable. But they remain surprised there was no review of the shove from behind into the boards that Paul Gaustad absorbed from Colby Armstrong that was only a minor penalty.

Said Boyes on his hit: "There was no intention to hit him high but it did come up a little high. I know they're trying to get that stuff out of the game and I agree with that part." 

Said Gaustad on his play: "I'm going to try to bite my tongue as much as possible. I'm just a little bit disappointed by it because I'm not the type of player that stays down. If I get up, I get up. They haven't asked how I'm doing. The NHL hasn't asked me. They don't know if I'm injured or not. They didn't check on it, at least to my knowledge. ... I'm not in charge of the rules. From what I saw, I hope that's not a legal hit. Because if it is, I could haven't gotten hurt more than I was."

Gaustad said he had a stiff neck after the play but was fine to practice Tuesday. He was surprised the fact he didn't stay down seemed to impact the ruling.

"If he's hurt, we may see something different," said coach Lindy Ruff. "There's areas that still have to be explained why or why not [a suspension] There's a break-in period from Brendan's point of view and our point of view."

In terms of injuries, Ruff said Derek Roy (shoulder) should be back on the ice in a day or two and that Jochen Hecht, who did not skate today, is "progressing." The team has not said what Hecht's issue is although it's believed to be concussion-related. Ruff acknowledged for the first time that it's possible Hecht may not be ready for the season opener Oct. 7 against Anaheim in Helsinki, Finland.

"It's a possibility, a small amount of concern right now," said Ruff, who added that Hecht will be on the flight to Europe on Saturday. "I wouldn't think we'll put it that we're there yet."

---Mike Harrington

Hecht still missing as Sabres return to the ice

The Sabres have returned to practice here at First Niagara Center with what is essentially going to be their team for the 2011-12 season. It should be a strong week of workouts because there are no more games until Friday night's contest in Washington. The team is scheduled to practice Saturday morning and then leave for Germany on Saturday night.

The first big bit of news out of practice today is the continued absence of center Jochen Hecht. A cut lip does not force an absence of roughly a week of drills, and that clearly points to a recurrence of concussion symptoms Hecht experienced at the end of last season. Memo to Lindy: You will be questioned about it again today.

Derek Roy, who tweaked his shoulder Saturday against Toronto, is skating in a red (non-contact jersey).

Here are today's lines:

The defense pairs are Regehr-Myers, Weber-Sekera and Ehrhoff skating with Leopold and Gragnani.

---Mike Harrington

Former Sabre facing up to 20 years in prison

Sean McMorrow, a former Sabres prospect who played one game for Buffalo, pleaded guilty Monday to conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute and distributing marijuana.

The News reports that U.S. Attorney William J. Hochul Jr. said McMorrow, 29, of Toronto, faces up to 20 years in prison, a fine of up to $1 million or both when he is sentenced Jan. 11 before U. S. District Judge David G. Larimer. McMorrow, an eighth-round selection by Buffalo in the 2000 draft who played in Rochester from 2002 to 2006, imported large quantities of marijuana inside hockey bags during much of that time from Canada into the United States over the Rainbow Bridge in Niagara Falls, according to Assistant U. S. Attorneys Brett A. Harvey and Douglas E. Gregory.

McMorrow also used various individuals, including two women, as drug couriers, Hochul said. McMorrow, an enforcer, played one game for the Sabres during the 2002-03 season.

---John Vogl

Roster update: Kotalik-Morrisonn clear waivers, head to AHL; Sabres assign 14 others to Amerks

The Sabres are now confirming today's TSN report that Ales Kotalik and Shaone Morrisonn have both cleared waivers, and the pair has been assigned to Rochester so Buffalo is officially now under the salary cap. Kotalik and Morrisonn are due $5,075,000 this season, leaving the Sabres roughly $930,000 under the cap (it's 1.4 million minus about $425,000 in owed bonuses).

The Amerks opened practice today before the Sabres assigned 14 players plus Kotalik and Morrisonn to Rochester. Kevin Oklobzija of the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle has the full list of players on the ice today in Rochester. The Sabres were off. Goaltender David Leggio has yet to be assigned to Rochester officially but will be soon as he cleared waivers today as well.

There was plenty of confusion who was in and was out with Rochester earlier today based on who was skating. The Sabres didn't announce their latest cuts until this afternoon so many of those players weren't on hand.

Assigned to Rochester today were forwards Marcus Foligno, Zack Kassian, Jonathan Parker, Michael Ryan, Colin Stuart, Corey Tropp, Phil Varone and Derek Whitmore; defensemen TJ Brennan, Joe Finley, Brayden McNabb, Dennis Persson and Drew Schiestel; and goaltender Drew MacIntyre.

The Sabres said MacIntyre, Persson, Ryan and Stuart have each been assigned pending waivers. MacIntyre is expected to report to Rochester, then return to Buffalo to serve as the Sabres' third goalie on the European trip.

Buffalo still has 25 players in camp (15 forwards, seven defensemen and three goaltenders). The current alphabetical lists: 

Forwards: Luke Adam, Brad Boyes, Matt Ellis, Tyler Ennis, Paul Gaustad, Nathan Gerbe, Jochen Hecht, Patrick Kaleta, Villo Leino, Cody McCormick, Jason Pominville, Derek Roy, Paul Szczechura (a veteran free-agent signee who has been injured and not practicing), Drew Stafford, Thomas Vanek.

Defense: Christian Ehrhoff, Marc-Andre Gragnani, Jordan Leopold, Tyler Myers, Robyn Regehr, Andrej Sekera, Mike Weber.

Goal: Jhonas Enroth, David Leggio, Ryan Miller.

---Mike Harrington

Around the rinks: NHL to make Rangers-Flyers Winter Classic official today in Philly

The NHL's worst-kept secret becomes official today at 1: The Rangers and Flyers will meet in the Winter Classic Jan. 2 at Citizens Bank Park, home of the Phillies. They'll also be the subjects of HBO's 24/7, as the Penguins and Capitals were last year. Today's announcement will be shown live on and the NHL Network.

---Also out of Philly is some scary news that Scott Hartnell, one of the Flyers' heart and soul players, is being sidelined by an elevated heart rate and will see a cardiologist on Tuesday.

---Old friend Steve Montador is adjusting to life with the Blackhawks and to the Chicago restaurant scene.

---Also out of Chicago comes word the Hawks are going to try South Buffalo native Patrick Kane at center.

---In Pittsburgh, demolition began today of the old Civic (nee Mellon) Arena. The famous steel roof panels will be coming down first. That was a great old barn even if the visiting locker room was smaller than your average place for 10-year-olds in Amherst.

One of my best hockey memories was there: On Dec. 31, 1988, I happened to be in the stands for an afternoon game against the Devils when Mario Lemeiux collected eight points and became the only player in history to score five goals five ways in the same game: even strength, power play, short-handed, penalty shot and empty net. Incredible stuff.

---Across the street at Consol Energy Center, Sidney Crosby continues to skate with the team in controlled scrimmages but is still not cleared for contact.

---The Rangers leave tonight for Europe, where they will play four exhibition games before opening their season in Stockholm Oct. 7. But they will initially not be taking defenseman Marc Staal, who is still dealing with concussion symptoms after a hit from his brother, Eric, during a February game against Carolina.

---Mike Harrington

NHL VP explains Boyes suspension

New NHL discipline czar Brendan Shanahan is posting videos on to explain his decisions on suspensions and his latest one explains the two-game preseason ban handed to Sabres winger Brad Boyes for his hit early in Saturday's game in First Niagara Center. Shanahan's explanations are interesting and a terrific public service. In just a few weeks on the job, he's shown more transparency than Colin Campbell ever showed. Here's Shanahan's explanation:

The hit on Boyes, clearly to the head, was definitely suspendable. But I've got a key question: Are we getting videos on plays reviewed that will not be deemed suspensions? And how was Colby Armstrong's push from behind on Paul Gaustad, a dangerous hit into the boards, later in Saturday's game not worth a suspension?

The Sabres are off today so it will be interesting to get the takes of Gaustad, Boyes and Lindy Ruff after practice Tuesday.

---Mike Harrington

Light morning turnout for Sabres; Miller likely to start vs. Jackets

The Sabres who aren't flying to Columbus this afternoon for the game against the Blue Jackets have gathered for a workout in Amherst. It's a light turnout of 10 skaters and one goalie.

Practicing for Buffalo is forwards Paul Gaustad, Cody McCormick, Brad Boyes, Thomas Vanek, Nathan Gerbe and Patrick Kaleta; defensemen Christian Ehrhoff, Brayden McNabb, T.J. Brennan and Jordan Leopold; and goalie Jhonas Enroth.

That leaves players such as Ryan Miller, Ville Leino and Robyn Regehr set to face Columbus.

--John Vogl

Live from Leafs at Sabres

Ales Kotalik and Shaone Morrisonn never really had a chance. Their high-dollar salaries combined with the Buffalo Sabres’ over-the-limit payroll made them easy targets for the chopping block. The cleaver cut swiftly Saturday.

The Sabres placed Kotalik and Morrisonn on waivers, moves that weren’t shocking given Buffalo’s financial situation. The Sabres entered training camp $3.6 million over the NHL’s salary cap of $64.3 million. Kotalik makes $3 million and Morrisonn has a cap hit of $2.075. Their departures will bring the Sabres back into compliance and put them $1.5 million under the cap.

The other 29 teams have until noon Monday to claim the players. If no one does, the Sabres can assign them to Rochester or Europe.

"I told the players that I would talk to them on Monday and we’d see where we were after the noon deadline," General Manager Darcy Regier said tonight before the Sabres hosted Toronto. "Both were very professional and understanding in that they realized what this means. The only thing that I can try to do to help them is say to them, 'We’ll work and try to help you in any way to try to get back in the National Hockey League, whether it’s with us, which would obviously involve biding their time, or another team.'"

The Sabres said repeatedly that Kotalik would be given a chance to make the roster. The winger didn’t play in the team’s first four exhibitions, however, and he skated with minor-leaguers during practices. Morrisonn didn’t play, either.

"Because of the rules, it was our intention to try and get them into games," Regier said. "The difficulty with being over the cap is that had either of these players played a game and been injured – and when I’m talking about injured, not available for the opening day roster – in order for us to get under the cap we would’ve had to either waive or trade other players on our roster. It made it very difficult.

"We spent a lot of time talking about, 'Should we get them in a game? Should we have a look?' because obviously they’re both NHL players. In Al’s case, he’s played for us, he’s played well for us, but when we went through it this was the decision we decided to go with."

Kotalik split last season between Calgary and the Flames’ American Hockey League affiliate. Morrisonn played 62 games with the Sabres but was on the bench by the time the season ended.


7:15 p.m: And the puck has dropped. More Buffalo fans than Leaf fans, which is rare when these teams play in First Niagara Center.

7:21 p.m.: Usually when teams play two nights in a row, the dislike factor goes up. That's certainly the case. The Paul Gaustad-Nathan Gerbe-Patrick Kaleta line had a scrum in front of the net, and Gaustad just went after Colby Armstrong with 15:13 to go when Armstrong boarded the center.

7:24 p.m.: Drew Stafford scores on the power play with 13:41 to go to give Buffalo a 1-0 lead.

7:32 p.m.: A lot of energy in the building for a preseason game. And if anyone hasn't been in the building yet, just know that it's a lot colder in here now that the team has become intent on providing the best ice available. So when the season starts, bring a sweater. Or drink an extra soda or two to get warm. I wish we had that second option in the press box.

7:37 p.m.: The Leafs' Mikhail Grabovski ties the game with 6:33 by kicking in a rebound. Lindy Ruff yells at the refs, who don't review the goal. It's 1-1. The Leaf fans who are here are loud.

7:49 p.m.: The teams skate to the dressing room in a 1-1 tie. The Sabres have a 9-7 edge in shots. The goaltenders are Jhonas Enroth for Buffalo and Jonas Gustavsson for Toronto.


8:08 p.m.: Go, Leafs, go! rings out as the second period gets under way.

8:12 p.m.: Toronto goes on the power play as Cody McCormick gets called for tripping with 16:24 left.

8:17 p.m.: Good shift by the Tyler Ennis-Ville Leino-Drew Stafford line, which pretty much seals the deal that you'll be reading a lot about them in the Sunday paper. It's still 1-1 with 13:11 to go.

8:27 p.m.: The Sabres are back on the power play as Nazem Kadri goes for hooking with 8:33 left.

8:29 p.m.: The Sabres' power play strikes again, as Christian Ehrhoff gets a point for the third straight game. He blistered a one-timer past Gustavsson after a pass along the blue line from Tyler Myers with 7:05 to go.

8:42 p.m.: The Sabres head to the dressing room with command of the game and a 2-1 lead. The Sabres took 13 of the 19 shots in the second period and have a 22-13 edge.


It's 9 o'clock on a Saturday: ... and the regular crowd shuffles in for the drop of the puck.

9:03 p.m.: The Sabres are back on the power play after Matt Lashoff goes for slashing with 17:40 left. I think it got colder in here.

9:05 p.m.: The Sabres score their third power-play goal of the night, a pretty tic-tac-toe play with 16:47 left. Thomas Vanek passes from the right point to Brad Boyes in the left corner, and Boyes quickly find Luke Adam in the right circle for a one-timer.

9:13 p.m.: The fans finish the wave with a rousing ovation for Enroth, who flipped and flopped to keep the Leafs off the board with 12 minutes to go.

9:17 p.m.: The fans drown out a Leafs chant with "Let's go, Buffalo!" It's louder in here tonight than it was during the playoffs. People are excited for this season, eh?

9:19 p.m.: Nikolai Kulimen answers for the Leafs, chipping a puck past Enroth with 7:39 to go to pull Toronto within 3-2.

9:24 p.m.: Tyler Myers heads off for delay of game with 6:39 left.

9:34 p.m.: The Sabres improve to 4-0 in the preseason with a 3-2 victory. Good night.

---John Vogl

Report: Sabres place Kotalik, Morrisonn on waivers

The Sabres have reportedly placed two high-dollar veterans on waivers, with forward Ales Kotalik and defenseman Shaone Morrisonn going on the wire, according to TSN's Bob McKenzie.

Kotalik makes $3 million and Morrisonn has a salary cap hit of $2.075 million, deals that threatened to make them cap casualties for the team with the NHL's highest payroll. The Sabres are $3.6 million over the salary cap and need to get under by the season opener Oct. 7, though with their departure for Europe set for next Saturday, the time frame is essentially moved up.

General Manager Darcy Regier is set to address the media at 6:45 p.m., just prior to opening faceoff for the Sabres' game against Toronto. Neither Kotalik nor Morrisonn has appeared in a preseason game for the Sabres, who are 3-0 entering First Niagara Center tonight.

---John Vogl

Sabres' Roy day-to-day with shoulder strain

Derek Roy is listed as day-to-day with a shoulder strain suffered Friday night in Toronto.

"It was just off the faceoff, kind of a stick-on-stick, awkward twist on my arm," the Buffalo center said today in First Niagara Center. "It was just a little tender around the muscle. It was preseason so we decided to just take the game off.

"It feels good. A little bit sore when I woke up, but right now with treatments it feels good."

Said coach Lindy Ruff: "He’s OK. He may miss a few days, but nothing serious. I would hope he’d be ready by late in the week even, for the last preseason game."

---John Vogl

Regehr, Leino, Myers set to play for Sabres tonight

The Sabres host Toronto tonight in their final preseason home game, and the lineup sheet has just been delivered during the morning skate in First Niagara Center. It lists 23 skaters, meaning two forwards and one defenseman will be scratched.

The list:

Forwards: Cody McCormick, Drew Stafford, Brad Boyes, Ville Leino, Thomas Vanek, Paul Gaustad, Patrick Kaleta, Matt Ellis, Nathan Gerbe, Zack Kassian, Tyler Ennis, Luke Adam, Corey Tropp and Marcus Foligno.

Defense: Jordan Leopold, Christian Ehrhoff, Marc-Andre Gragnani, Robyn Regehr, Andrej Sekera, Tyler Myers and Brayden McNabb.

Goaltenders: Jhonas Enroth, Drew MacIntyre.

---John Vogl

Oddsmakers give Sabres 11th-best chance at Cup

The Sabres feel they are Stanley Cup contenders. The oddsmakers don't even have them in the top one-third of the league.

My usual contacts over at have sent me the preseason odds for the NHL, and the Sabres are 18-to-1 to win the Cup. That's the 11th-best odds in the 30-team league.

Here are all the odds, with the usual disclaimer: Gambling is bad. Your money is much better spent on concerts, women and whiskey. (And with the Foo Fighters in town this weekend, you can blow your cash on all three Sunday.)

Odds to win the 2012 Stanley Cup

Vancouver Canucks                   7/1

Washington Capitals                  7/1

Boston Bruins                            10/1

Pittsburgh Penguins                   10/1

Philadelphia Flyers                     11/1

San Jose Sharks                       11/1

Chicago Blackhawks                  12/1

Detroit Red Wings                      12/1

Los Angeles Kings                     14/1

Tampa Bay Lightning                  16/1

Buffalo Sabres                           18/1

Anaheim Ducks                         25/1

Montreal Canadiens                   25/1

Nashville Predators                    28/1

New Jersey Devils                      30/1

New York Rangers                     30/1

Phoenix Coyotes                       35/1

St. Louis Blues                          35/1

Calgary Flames                         40/1

Dallas Stars                              40/1

Carolina Hurricanes                    45/1

Toronto Maple Leafs                   50/1

Winnipeg Jets                            60/1

Colorado Avalanche                    65/1

Edmonton Oilers                        65/1

Ottawa Senators                        70/1

Columbus Blue Jackets              75/1

Florida Panthers                        75/1

Minnesota Wild                          75/1

New York Islanders                    80/1

Odds to win the 2012 NHL Eastern Conference

Washington Capitals                  4/1

Pittsburgh Penguins                   9/2

Philadelphia Flyers                     5/1

Boston Bruins                            11/2

Tampa Bay Lightning                  8/1

Buffalo Sabres                           10/1

Montreal Canadiens                   14/1

New Jersey Devils                      15/1

New York Rangers                     16/1

Carolina Hurricanes                    24/1

Toronto Maple Leafs                   28/1

Winnipeg Jets                            35/1

Florida Panthers                        40/1

Ottawa Senators                        40/1

New York Islanders                    45/1

Odds to win the 2012 NHL Western Conference

Vancouver Canucks                   3/1

Detroit Red Wings                      11/2

San Jose Sharks                       11/2

Los Angeles Kings                     6/1

Chicago Blackhawks                  13/2

Anaheim Ducks                         12/1

Nashville Predators                    14/1

Phoenix Coyotes                       18/1

Calgary Flames                         20/1

Dallas Stars                              20/1

St. Louis Blues                          20/1

Colorado Avalanche                    35/1

Columbus Blue Jackets              35/1

Edmonton Oilers                        35/1

Minnesota Wild                          35/1

---John Vogl

Sabres send 11 to Rochester

The Sabres have trimmed their roster for the second time this week, sending 11 players down to Rochester.

The Sabres have demoted forwards Riley Boychuk, Jacob Lagace, Maxime Legault, Shawn Szydlowski, Travis Turnbull and Mark Voakes; defensemen Alex Biega, Nick Crawford, Corey Fienhage and Matt MacKenzie; and Goaltender Jeff Jakaitis.

The Sabres have 41 players still in training camp (24 forwards, 13 defensemen and four goaltenders).

---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 |

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 |

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 |