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Lockout fever grows: NHL talks stall

I told you earlier this month I didn't expect any hockey to be played in October.

That's looking more and more likely after talks between the NHL and Players Association were recessed today after 90 minutes with the parties stalled and no new talks planned.

The players are moving for a four-year deal with Gary Bettman & Co. looking for a longer one and pointing out the NBA signed a 10-year agreement last year. In addition, the players' share of the revenue would drop in the first three years and then bounce back to the 57 percent they currently have in year four. Bettman said that's unacceptable and even used the word "stonewalling" to discuss the players' tactics.

Still hard to see the league's side of this one. The players took a 24 percent rollback in 2004. The owners are the ones who can't get out of their own way handing out huge contracts. There's far more revenue now in this sport than there used to be.

"Someone needs to say something new," Bettman said. 

Uh-oh. Maybe the Commish should take some of his own advice.

We already heard rumors of players (notably Evgeni Malkin going to the KHL) who are starting to line up deals in Europe in case there's a lockout. Let's see if that starts to grow.

---Mike Harrington

Roy looking at mid-November return in Big D

Assuming a lockout is over by then, old friend Derek Roy is on target for a mid-November return/debut with the Dallas Stars after having shoulder surgery July 2, he told the team's Web site in a story published late Thursday night.

“It’s getting better. Every day I try to get more motion in it and more strength in it,” Roy said. “I’m just doing the little things to get it going. It’s going to take time, but if you take it one day at a time, it’s a little better.”

Roy is not skating with teammates doing pre-training camp workouts (for a camp, of course, that may not happen anytime soon). He hopes to be skating in late September. The Sabres, remember, expressed surprise at development camp to learn the Stars' medical team opted for surgery with Roy.

"They figured a 100 percent Derek Roy would help the team more than playing at 75 percent, getting hurt, coming back and doing that all season," Roy said. "We made the decision on surgery and right now for us, and we are going to move forward. I could have played with it, but I wouldn’t have been 100 percent."

Mike Heika of the Dallas Morning News also takes this look at Roy, pointing out he's the one Stars player who would clearly benefit from a lockout from the standpoint of potentially not missing games.

---Mike Harrington

Some actual hockey talk, as THN makes its picks

Not much for Darcy Regier to say last week when I talked to him for Sunday's story. The Sabres GM is simply moving forward doing his normal work until he's told otherwise. But there's certainly the feeling no one believes there's going to be much hockey any time soon.

So at least it's fun to think about what might be when we finally get a season started. The Hockey News has gone day-by-day through each spot in the conferences and finished today by naming Pittsburgh its No. 1 choice in the East and St. Louis No. 1 in the West. 

The full rankings are here, with the Sabres tabbed 7th in the East and set for a first-round matchup with Boston. Florida, New Jersey and Phoenix are picked to go from playoffs teams to outside looking in. 

Meanwhile, the NHL Network's popular "HD Classics" telecast has several old Sabres games on this week.

---Game 7 of the 2006 Eastern Conference final in Carolina was shown on the network this afternoon (sorry for no notice, just noticed), but it will be repeated Thursday at noon. Maybe watch the first 40 minutes, when the Sabres still held a 2-1 lead. 

---Game 5 of the 2007 ECF against Ottawa will air Thursday at 4 a.m. and Friday night/Saturday morning at 2 a.m. DVR masochists or Daniel Alfredsson fans, get ready.

---The No Goal Game (Game Six of the '99 finals against Dallas) will air in its five-hour entirety Friday afternoon at 3:30. I watched this a couple times last summer and it was interesting to see how the ESPN telecast handled the Brett Hull controversy.

It was much how it felt in the building that night: A goal was scored, the Cup was awarded, the pictures were taken and only then did anyone realize there was an issue. I noticed it on a concourse television replay walking out of the building about the time ESPN started talking about it and then noting the Sabres had refused to open their locker room to reporters. What a fiasco.

(Of course, if James Patrick had just scored in the second overtime rather than hitting the crossbar ... )

---Mike Harrington


Amerks' opener Oct. 12 vs. Syracuse

The Sabres are supposed to open the season Oct. 13 against Pittsburgh in First Niagara Center, although the chances of that seem to be shrinking by the day. But we know there definitely will be hockey that weekend, as the Rochester Americans have just announced their schedule and their opener will be Oct. 12 in Blue Cross Arena against Syracuse.

Buffalo-area folks needing a hockey fix have a great chance to get one up the Thruway as the Amerks' 38-game home slate includes 21 Fridays, three Saturdays and three Sundays.

Games played Tuesday through Saturday will all start at 7:05 p.m., while games played on Sundays and Mondays will see times of 1:05, 3:05 or 5:05.

Rochester is in the North Division along with Hamilton, Lake Erie, Toronto and Abbotsford and will play 36 games in its division. The Amerks will also play against Syracuse 10 times (five home, five road), Binghamton eight times (four home, four road), Adirondack four times (two home, two road), Albany four times (two home, two road), and twice each (one home, one road) versus Grand Rapids, Hershey, Houston, Oklahoma City, San Antonio, Texas and Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.

A highlight of the road schedule is a Feb. 22 game against Hamilton at the Bell Centre in Montreal, home of the Bulldogs' parent, the Canadiens.

Click here for the full schedule in pdf form.

Amerks season tickets and packages are available on or by calling 1-855-GO-AMERKS.

---Mike Harrington

Talkin' Sabres on Sirius

Things continue to be quiet in Sabreland but the preseason chatter is already starting to build, even though no one really knows what's going to happen with the CBA.

(Big news of the day in the NHL so far: Carolina signs former Calder Trophy winner Jeff Skinner to a six-year, $34.35 million extension. And memo to the Sabres: The terms of the deal were announced by the team). is running its 30 teams in 30 days feature -- the Sabres were on the docket over the weekend -- and the Hockey News is doing its predictions place by place each day (they have not hit the Sabres' spot in the East yet).

The Sabres figure to be an intriguing team to watch among the non-playoff clubs from last year and I appeared this morning on NHL Home Ice on Sirius/XM with Jamie Shalley and Terry Mercury. They were certainly interested, like everyone here, with what the Sabres are going to do at center and with all these defensemen.

Hear the interview below:

Mike Harrington on NHL Home Ice

---Mike Harrington

Regier on Doan, Ennis

Shea Weber and Rick Nash already know where they’ll be playing next year, but unrestricted free agent Shane Doan is yet to sign a contract.

He visited with the New York Rangers and Philadelphia Flyers in late July, then went north of the border to see the Vancouver Canucks Tuesday and is heading to Montreal this week as well. Mike Harrington wrote last week that Sabres General Manager Darcy Regier would be “pulling a major rabbit out of his hat” to land either Doan or Bobby Ryan, which Regier spoke to Wednesday morning at Pat Kaleta’s news conference.

“No, we have not met with [Doan], and I don’t know whether we will meet with him,” Regier said, well-versed in general manager lingo. “We’re monitoring the situation, and I’d leave it at that.”

Doan's agent, Terry Bross, told Harrington he had had several conversations with the Sabres, but Regier said there is still no meeting scheduled between the sides.

“What I would say about Shane’s situation is that I admire the level of loyalty he’s provided to his club,” Regier said. “He’s spent his whole career with that organization, and I think that’s meaningful, and I admire that, but in the event he’s not going to stay there, we certainly would have an interest.”

Doan, a 35-year-old winger with 16 NHL seasons under his belt, has been with the Phoenix Coyotes for their entire history, coming along when the team moved from Winnipeg following his rookie year. But with the team’s ownership still in question, he’d like reassurance the team will remain in Glendale, Ariz., which he may not get.

Regier also spoke on the contract negotiations with Tyler Ennis, who’s slotted to center one of the top two lines this year.

“We spoke with his agent yesterday (Tuesday) and I think that will continue today,” Regier said. “That’s always a hard one [to say how close the sides are]. Close. … The positive is it’s moving in the right direction.”

---Nick Veronica

Twitter: @NickVeronica


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 |