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Snapshots of Helsinki, Finland

HELSINKI, Finland -- I've said it before, and I'm sure I'll say it again: Sometimes, the headline says it all.

---John Vogl

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Sabres' audio: Ruff, captain Pominville preview opener

HELSINKI, Finland -- Coach Lindy Ruff had a lot of captaincy candidates, but after discussing the situation with General Manager Darcy Regier, owner Terry Pegula and other Sabres management, it became clear he should name Jason Pominville.

"We just felt this was the right move for this group that has grown up together that he should lead our team," Ruff said this morning in Hartwall Arena, where the Sabres will face Anaheim tonight in the regular-season opener.

The audio of Ruff's news conference, which includes his reasons for playing Marc-Andre Gragnani and scratching Mike Weber, is below, as is Pominville's chat with the media following the morning skate.

---John Vogl

Lindy Ruff

Jason Pominville

Weber scratched, Gragnani in for Sabres' opener

HELSINKI, Finland -- Marc-Andre Gragnani's power-play skills have given him the edge over fellow defenseman Mike Weber, so Gragnani will be in the lineup tonight when the Sabres open the regular season against Anaheim.

Calling it a tough decision to sit Weber, coach Lindy Ruff said special teams are a vital part of the game and Gragnani's ability to man the point was a key factor in the decision.

Matt Ellis will be the healthy scratch among forwards, while Jochen Hecht is out with concussion symptoms.

--John Vogl

Video from Finland: Lindy hands out the letters

The Sabres' official Web site has posted this video from the team dinner Thursday in Helsinki, showing Lindy Ruff making the announcement that Jason Pominville will be the team's captain and that Paul Gaustad, Thomas Vanek, Derek Roy and Drew Stafford will serve as alternates. Pominville then addresses the team.

Sabres sign two to entry-level deals

HELSINKI, Finland -- The Sabres have signed forwards Riley Boychuk and Jonathan Parker to three-year, entry-level contracts.

The Sabres selected the 6-foot-4, 205-pound Boychuck in the seventh round of the 2010 draft. The 20-year-old recorded 39 goals, 83 points and 391 penalty minutes in 194 games with Portland of the Western Hockey League.

The undrafted Parker spent three years in the WHL, including a 45-goal, 86-point season with Prince Albert last season. The 20-year-old, who is 5-10 and 195 pounds, totaled 77 goals and 155 points in 205 games with Prince Albert and Seattle.

---John Vogl

Sabres name Pominville as captain

HELSINKI, Finland -- Jason Pominville isn't the loudest Buffalo Sabre. He's not the most outwardly opinionated, neither ripping nor gushing about his teammates with quotes that make waves.

Pominville is, however, talented and dependable. He's on the ice with his teammates nearly every day, and he's always front and center in the dressing room to give his take on what is going wrong or right.

From now on when he skates or stands before the media, it will be with a "C" on his chest. The Sabres have named Pominville as their new captain, giving him the honor at a team dinner the night before Friday's opening of the 2011-12 season.

Pominville is entering his seventh season as a right winger in Buffalo, and the "A" has been a fixture on his chest as an alternate captain. The 28-year-old will now wear a full-time "C," the first person to do so since Craig Rivet was claimed on waivers by Columbus in February.

Pominville was the last player to be captain prior to Rivet, holding the honor in March and April 2008 during a season in which coach Lindy Ruff rotated the captaincy every month.

Pominville, a second-round pick in the 2001 draft, earned a starting job with the Sabres in 2005-06. He played all 82 games in each of the next four seasons, a streak that was halted last year by an early concussion. He still played 73 times, recording 22 goals and 30 assists. He has 145 goals and 358 points in 459 career games with Buffalo. He is entering the third season of a five-year, $26.5 million contract he signed prior to the 2009-10 season.

The alternate captaincy will rotate between Paul Gaustad, Derek Roy, Thomas Vanek and Drew Stafford, with two players wearing an "A" each game.

---John Vogl


A look at the rinks inside Finland's Hartwall Arena

HELSINKI, Finland -- The Sabres have practiced for consecutive days in Hartwall Arena, skating on the main rink that will be used when they play Anaheim on Friday in the season opener. It's actually a bummer.

Two floors below the main rink is a practice rink blasted out of the surrounding rock. It's unlike any rink I've ever seen, and it would be a cool one to skate on. The Ducks did today.

Here's a photo of the practice rink and another of the main rink, used by legendary Finnish team Jokerit. (For those curious about the second one, it's the 360 Panorama app for iPhone, and it's awesome.)

---John Vogl

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Inside the NHL -- Live Chat

It's NHL Preview Section day in The News

On newsstands today, it's our 16-page NHL preview section with all you need to know about this highly anticipated season. Bucky Gleason writes on Terry Pegula's humble beginnings and provides a capsule look at each NHL team, John Vogl discusses the new attitude in Pegulaville and previews the new roster, which features even more offense from the defense. Greg Connors' Mixed Media column talks to Brian Duff, the new addition to the team's broadcast lineup.

Mike Harrington analyzes the schedule and talks to new Rochester Amerks coach Ron Rolston about the new season down on the farm. He also has a feature on some Sabres taking to Twitter, notably center Derek Roy. That story references a pair of videos Roy shot for Gong Show Gear, which feature an inside look at his summer home in Muskoka, Ont., and the YouTubes of them are below.

There's the full NHL schedule, predictions from The News hockey team, terrific photography from Mark Mulville, the impeccable graphics of Design Editor Vincent J. Chiaramonte and a keepsake, look-who's-in-there cover from staff artist Daniel Zakroczemski.

Get it all today in The News.

And now, on to the Roy videos.

Sabres to name captain at team dinner tonight

HELSINKI, Finland -- The Buffalo Sabres will have a team captain tonight.

Coach Lindy Ruff closed his morning news conference in Hartwall Arena by saying he will announce his captain when the team gathers for dinner tonight in Finland's capital city.

The Sabres have not had a "C" since sending Craig Rivet to Columbus at last season's trade deadline. Those in contention for the job include Thomas Vanek, Derek Roy, Robyn Regehr, Jason Pominville, Paul Gaustad and Tyler Myers.

---John Vogl

Video: Teppo, Leino speak in Finnish

HELSINKI, Finland -- Native sons Teppo Numminen and Ville Leino met the media twice Wednesday, the first to speak English and the second to speak Finnish. Here's's video of the Finnish news conference.

---John Vogl

Sabres on ice for final preseason skate

HELSINKI, Finland -- The Sabres have taken the ice in Hartwall Arena for their final practice of the preseason. Starting Friday, everything is for real with the morning skate and the regular-season opener against the Anaheim Ducks.

There are no surprises on the ice. The three goalies and seven defensemen are skating, Jochen Hecht (concussion) is in a no-contact role and Matt Ellis is without a line. The lines are the same they've been for days:

Thomas Vanek-Luke Adam-Jason Pominville

Nathan Gerbe-Derek Roy-Drew Stafford

Tyler Ennis-Ville Leino-Brad Boyes

Cody McCormick-Paul Gaustad-Patrick Kaleta

The Ducks are also set to skate this morning in the practice rink in Hartwall Arena, which is actually two floors below the regular rink.

---John Vogl

Leafs place Tim Connolly on IR

HELSINKI, Finland -- Tim Connolly was excited for his fresh start in Toronto, and he was eager to put his old injury label behind and be a top-line center with the Maple Leafs.

Instead, he'll start the season injured on the sidelines.

Connolly suffered a shoulder injury recently when he fell into the boards during practice, and he won't be ready to open the season with Toronto. The Leafs placed him on the injured-reserve list today (or yesterday, if you're in Finland).

---John Vogl

Sabres' Teppo, Leino, Lindy speak in Finland

HELSINKI, Finland -- After a long travel day that featured an 8 a.m. bus in Heidelberg, Germany, an 11 a.m. flight in Baden-Baden, Germany, a 2:30 p.m. arrival at Helsinki airport and a 4:30 p.m. (or so) practice, the Sabres are done for the day.

As expected, the folks waiting in Hartwall Arena were in the mood to chat with Finland natives Teppo Numminen and Ville Leino. Here are the English chats (they also spoke in their native tongue) plus Lindy Ruff's news conference.

---John Vogl

Teppo Numminen

Ville Leino

Lindy Ruff

Hecht on home ice and a German TV network's view of the Sabres' trip

Jochen Hecht is sidelined with a concussion but still got plenty of love from his hometown fans Tuesday in Mannheim. Here's an video that gives a glimpse of the atmosphere in SAP Arena as Hecht flips pucks in the stands and accepts the chants of the singing crowd. Wild.

And here's a German television report on the Sabres' practice Monday. Love the translation over the interviews with Lindy Ruff, Ryan Miller and a couple Buffalo fans on the AAA Travel tour group.

---Mike Harrington

Sabres' postgame audio: Hecht, Ehrhoff, Ruff, Adam, Ennis,

MANNHEIM, Germany -- The Sabres' 2011-12 exhibition season is over, with Buffalo earning an 8-3 victory over host Adler Mannheim. Here are the postgame interviews.

---John Vogl


Jochen Hecht

Christian Ehrhoff

Lindy Ruff

Luke Adam

Tyler Ennis

Live from Sabres at Mannheim

MANNHEIM, Germany -- Greetings from SAP Arena, the house that Jochen Hecht built. OK, not really, but he was the first Sabre on the ice -- joining Adler Mannheim legend Rene Corbet -- for laps around the rink to start the exhibition festivities.

Hecht was also the last player off the ice following warmups, as he handed out pucks to his hometown fans. He also led the raucous crowd behind the net -- fans who ran in to get a good spot in the standing room only section -- in a cheer and wave.

It's going to be a wild game in here. The fans needed less than a minute of warmups to start chanting. Drums are pounding.

"The atmosphere will be fantastic," Sabres coach Lindy Ruff said. "I witnessed it at the world championships, and it’s a totally different atmosphere than we’re used to, from the singing, the cheering, the chanting. The emotion in the building and the energy in the building will be something you wouldn’t expect."

For some pics, be sure to visit

More when the puck drops.


1:29 p.m.: All right, I'm sold on European sporting events and the puck hasn't even dropped yet. It's non-stop chanting and drumming and clapping in here.

1:31 p.m.: The anthem singer nailed the German national anthem. I think. She butchered the U.S. anthem, though, with words I've never even heard before.

1:32 p.m.: Game on.

1:36 p.m.: The Sabres' lines are Thomas Vanek-Luke Adam-Jason Pominville; Nathan Gerbe-Derek Roy-Drew Stafford; Tyler Ennis-Ville Leino-Brad Boyes; and Cody McCormick-Paul Gaustad-Patrick Kaleta. Defense pairs are Jordan Leopold-Christian Ehrhoff; Tyler Myers-Robyn Regehr; and Andrej Sekera-Mike Weber.

1:39 p.m.: German native Christian Ehrhoff goes off for cross-checking at 15:07.

1:40 p.m.: Marc-Andre Gragnani is also playing for the Sabres. Yes, that's more people on the roster than are allowed. Matt Ellis is scratched and Hecht is hurt. Jhonas Enroth already has two nice saves in net.

1:42 p.m.: In honor of Europe ... GOALLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLll! Tyler Ennis gets a breakaway and puts a backhand through the pads of former NHL goalie Fred Braithwaite with 12:42 left. It's 1-0 Buffalo.

1:46 p.m.: No wonder there have been so many Germans pounding beers this week. They need to lube up their throats since they do nothing but yell chants during games.

1:52 p.m.: GOALLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLl! Ennis gets his second with 8:38 left. Boyes feeds Leino in the slot, and Ennis buries the rebound from the right side after Brathwaite stopped Leino.

1:58: Adler kills a Sabres power play, so it's still 2-0 Buffalo with 3:57 to go.

2:02 p.m.: Another holding penalty on Mannheim, this time with 1:49 left.

2:03 p.m.: GOALLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL! Luke Adam scores with 1:41 left, cruising to the top of the crease to deflect Thomas Vanek's pass high into the net.

2:05 p.m.: End of the first, Sabres with a 3-0 lead.


2:25 p.m.: This time, it's the PA announcer yelling, "GOALLLLLLLLLLL!" Mannheim's Yannic Seidenberg scores just seven seconds in the period.

2:26 p.m.: The Sabres answer right back to take a 4-1 lead. A terrible turnover gave Boyes the puck alone in the slot, and the winger buried it high to Brathwaite's glove side with 1:11 gone.

2:31 p.m.: Enroth gets his glove on Mike Glumac's breakaway attempt, deflecting the puck out of play with 14:36 to go.

2:33 p.m.: Kaleta gets two minutes for tripping with 13:25 left.

2:35 p.m.: Shortly after Enroth makes another sparkling save, Adler strikes again. Jaime Sifers buries a cross-ice pass with 12:10 to go, cutting the Sabres' lead to 4-2.

2:44 p.m.: The chanting and drumming continues as Adler defenseman Nikolai Goc heads to the box for tripping with 6:59 to go.

2:46 p.m.: Christian Ehrhoff can shoot. Man, can he shoot. The defenseman blasts a shot from the center of the blue line just under the crossbar, beating new goalie Felix Bruckmann on the power play with 6:02 left to give Buffalo a 5-2 lead.

2:48 p.m.: With a break in action, it's time to say hello to the folks back home. Hi, Ahren. And Christine Snow, Kevin says hello to you!

2:52 p.m.: The Sabres go back on the power play with 4:03 left after a hold by Denis Reul.

2:54 p.m.: Just after the penalty expires, Adam feeds a wide-open Vanek in the crease for a tap-in. It's 6-2 Buffalo witth 1:58 left.

2:56 p.m.: The Sabres head to the dressing room with a 6-2 lead.


3:16 p.m.: The final period of preseason hockey is under way. The real thing starts Friday night.

3:21 p.m.: Weber heads to the box with 14:18 left.

3:23 p.m.: The Sabres are well on their way to a victory, taking a 6-2 lead into a break with 11:47 to go.

3:27 p.m.: Mannheim, meanwhile, gives its partying fans another reason to chant, scoring with 11:08 left on a top-shelf laster by Glumac.

3:31 p.m.: Their team is down, 6-3, but the fans are clapping and singing as loud as they have all day as we get to 8 minutes to go.

3:39 p.m.: Following a goal by Pominville with 6:17 left, Ennis feeds Leino for another tally with 3:47 left. It's 8-3. We likely have to walk down to the locker room before the game ends because there's no back media hall, so this is it for the live blog. Check back soon for postgame reaction.

---John Vogl

Live chat with Mike Harrington at 11:30 a.m.

Audio: Ruff speaks after Sabres' morning skate

MANNHEIM, Germany -- After two days of practice, sightseeing and hospital visits, it's back to hockey games for the Buffalo Sabres. They visit Adler Mannheim in game that starts at 7:30 p.m., which is 1:30 p.m. in Buffalo.

Coach Lindy Ruff said after the morning skate today in SAP Arena that he expects an entertaining game. Hear his thoughts below.

---John Vogl

Sabres moved by visit to military hospital

LANDSTUHL, Germany -- Ryan Miller knew today would be powerful. When he was a member of the U.S. Olympic team, the Sabres' goaltender visited injured troops and walked away with an enhanced look at life.

The same thing happened today when the Sabres visited Landstuhl Regional Medical Center on Ramstein Air Base.

"We’e seeing a big movement in that there’s a lot more respect being paid to the men and women who are serving, especially the men and women who have made sacrificies with their bodies," Miller said. "It definitely gives you perspective on life, and I think it’s good for our whole organization to show up, not just a few guys. It sets things in place for people."

The visit was the first of its kind for most players, especially the younger ones, and Miller hopes they absorbed its meaning.

"I hope it puts them in a good spot to understand how fortunate they are to be where they’re at in their life and to enjoy every moment," Miller said.

To hear thoughts by Miller and coach Lindy Ruff on the visit, click the audio file below.

---John Vogl

Ryan Miller

Lindy Ruff

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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 |