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Team McClanahan beats Team Housley

The first USA Hockey All-American Prospects Game is in the books with the team coached by Miracle on Ice great Rob McClanahan beating the team coached by former Buffalo Sabre and USA Hockey Hall of Famer Phil Housley, 5-2.

Slick playmaker Ryan Fitzgerald of the Valley Junior Warriors of the Eastern Junior Hockey League earned MVP honors and made plenty of scouts take notice with a three-assist game. He is the son of former NHLer Tom Fitzgerald.

Meanwhile, Sean Malone of West Seneca, who played for Team Housley in the game featuring the top American-born hockey players eligible for June's NHL draft, said he had a fantastic time.

He heard plenty of cheers, admitted he was surprised when Housley told him as the teams took the ice for the game that he would take part in the ceremonial faceoff with hockey legend Scotty Bowman and wishes he had scored before the home folks in a game in which he had a few Grade A chances.

Interviews from both players can be found below.

---Miguel Rodriguez

 

Sean Malone

 

Ryan Fitzgerald

Malone will have fan club at Prospects Game

West Seneca's Sean Malone will reap the benefit of the hometown advantage during tonight's USA Hockey All-American Prospects game at First Niagara Center.

Speaking to the media this afternoon before the 7 p.m. game, the 17-year-old forward who now plays for the U.S. National Development Team Under-18 said his father purchased 75 tickets for the game and that he expects to have several other familiar faces in the crowd.

Tickets are still available and cost $20 (100 and 200 Level) and $15 (200 Level End).

"It's great to come back to Buffalo and know that a lot of people you know will be present at the game tonight," Malone said. "I think it'll be  great experience for hockey fans here ... I'm really excited for it."

Malone will play on Team Housley before the more than 150 NHL scouts and general managers expected to be in attendance.

He is expected to play on a line with Tyler Motte, a teammate from the U.S. National Development team and committed to play collegiately at Michigan, and Ross Olsson, who plays with Lincoln of the USHL and is committed to Northeastern. Malone is committed to Harvard.

Here's audio of our interview below.

---Miguel Rodriguez

 

 

Sean Malone

 

Sabres at Leafs wiped out, and so is the extra cash for these folks

The Sabres' fourth preseason game would have been tonight, with the team heading up the QEW to face the Toronto Maple Leafs in Air Canada Centre. Because a bunch of rich guys can't figure out how to split $3.3 billion a year, that game and all the other preseason contests have been canceled.

That brings us to our fourth edition of: Who is hurting tonight because of the lockout?

*It's the guy who would have been working the grill and earning tips at Burkies Dog House.

*It's the security guard who would have been checking the media's laptop bags at Gate 2A.

*It's the parking lot attendant on Yonge Street.

*It's the owner of the gas station on Erin Mills Parkway, who is missing out on a huge sale of Ruffles All Dressed chips, Lay's Ketchup chips and Smarties, purchased by the Buffalo sportswriter who always stops to get the childhood snacks that his half-Canadian wife loves.

Once again, it's not the owners and players.

---John Vogl

 

Buffalo's Bailey will miss USA Hockey prospects game with injury after huge hit

Justin Bailey took a big hit Thursday night. By extension, so has USA Hockey's All-American Prospects Game.

Bailey, a Williamsville native who is one of the top U.S. players eligible for next year's NHL draft, will miss Saturday's inaugural prospects game in First Niagara Center with an injury. The Kitchener Rangers forward was blindsided by Windsor's Patrick Sieloff during their Ontario Hockey League contest, and the open-ice blast has ruined Bailey's chance to perform in his hometown.

Bailey, who is 6-foot-3 and 195 pounds, has been graded as an "A-list" skater by NHL Central Scouting.

U.S. prospect Dawson Cook will also miss the game with injury, leaving the USA Hockey event with 38 players. The game is set for a 7 p.m. faceoff Saturday.

---John Vogl

Leafs at Sabres wiped out tonight, and so is the cash for these folks

We have reached the Sabres' third canceled game of the preseason, a total that will hit seven with Thursday's announcement that the exhibition slate is history. The Toronto Maple Leafs were supposed to visit the Sabres and First Niagara Center tonight, but it's not going to happen because a bunch of rich guys can't figure out how to split $3.3 billion annually.

As we have done with the first two games, we will think of some of the real victims of the lockout.

*It's the people behind Benchwarmers on Mississippi Street, folks who invested in the Cobblestone District with the belief they'd have at least 40 to 50 good nights a year. Customers will be few and far between if they even open. (NOTE: Since writing this, I've been informed the bar has gone out of business, as has neighboring Morrissey's. If I were covering any Sabres events at the arena, I'd have already known this.)

*It's the arena usher who needs the income from his second job, a part-time position that is nearly non-existent now.

*It's Larry, the guy who sells peanuts with a smile so he can earn a tip or two.

*It's the men and women who cook hot dogs at the carts on the corners so they can feed their families and the fans.

Once again, it's not the NHL owners and players.

---John Vogl

NHL cancels rest of preseason schedule

The NHL preseason has been completely eliminated. The next step is either cancel regular-season games or come to an agreement with the NHL Players' Association on a collective barganing agreement.

The league announced this afternoon it is wiping out the rest of the exhibition schedule. The move comes eight days after the NHL canceled all preseason games through Sept. 30.

The Buffalo Sabres were scheduled to play seven preseason games. They have already missed two, with the next one originally slated for Friday night at home against Toronto.

The NHL regular season is supposed to start Oct. 11, with the Sabres getting started Oct. 13 against Pittsburgh in First Niagara Center. But unless the league and players union can make progress in their CBA talks, those games are in jeopardy.

The sides are scheduled to resume formal discussions Friday, their first meeting in more than two weeks. Several reports say they will talk throughout the weekend.

---John Vogl

Sekera becomes third Sabres player to sign with European team

The Sabres have lost another member of their dwindling workout group.

Defenseman Andrej Sekera today became the third member of the Sabres to sign overseas, agreeing to a deal with Slovan Bratislava of the Kontinental Hockey League, according to agent Allan Walsh.

Sekera joins Christian Ehrhoff (Germany) and Tyler Ennis (Switzerland) as Buffalo regulars who have joined European teams.

Sekera skated in Northtown Center in Amherst on Wednesday, but the group has been halved because the Sabres' prospects are beginning training camp with the Rochester Americans today. Only 10 or so NHL players remain in Buffalo, including Rangers goalie Martin Biron and unrestricted free agent Jochen Hecht.

---John Vogl

Pominville looking forward to charity game in his native Quebec

Jason Pominville is leaving Buffalo behind, at least temporarily.

Some locked-out players have created a series of charity scrimmages in Quebec, with a team of Montreal-based players facing a squad from the rest of the province. The first game is Thursday in a Montreal suburb, and the Quebec-born Pominville is joining NHLers such as Marc-Andre Fleury, Brian Gionta and Simon Gagne.

"I’m going to go down and play there and practice there Friday and come back here after and see what it is like next week," Pominville said today after a workout in Northtown Center at Amherst. "I’m thinking about playing there. I don’t know if I want to go to Europe right away or not, so for right now I think that’s my option. I can still spend time with the family and still work out and do the things I need to do to get ready, and at the same time play hopefully two good caliber games a week."

French Canadian players staged a similar barnstorming tour during the 2004-05 lockout.

"They want it to be good hockey," Pominville said. "There’s going to be three lines on each side, and it should be pretty good, and it’s for a charity so it should be a lot of fun."

---John Vogl

Amerks will open training camp in Buffalo; roster list released

The Rochester Americans have already moved one home game to Buffalo. They are moving the start of training camp to First Niagara Center, too.

The Amerks announced today that camp will start Friday at the foot of Washington Street. The Sabres' minor-leaguers will skate from 11:45 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Friday, and the session will be open to the public.

The Amerks will also skate in Buffalo from 6:30-8:20 a.m. Saturday in First Niagara Center, but that camp day will be closed to the public. The team will skate in its home base of Rochester starting Sunday.

Here is the roster list:

Forwards (20): Luke Adam, Riley Boychuk, Brian Flynn, Marcus Foligno, Zemgus Girgensons, Cody Hodgson, Jacob Lagace, Maxime Legault, Mark Mancari, Jonathan Parker, Kevin Porter, Evan Rankin, Frederick Roy, Rick Schofield, Kevin Sundher, Shawn Szydlowski, Nick Tarnasky, Corey Tropp, Phil Varone, Jamie Wise.

Defensemen (10): Alex Biega, T.J. Brennan, Nick Crawford, Corey Fienhage, Joe Finley, Jerome Gauthier-Leduc, Matt MacKenzie, Brayden McNabb, Mark Pysyk, Drew Schiestel.

Goaltenders (4): Connor Knapp, David Leggio, Nathan Lieuwen, Shane Madolora.

---John Vogl

Arena is dark because Bruins at Sabres is wiped out, and here's who is hurting because of it

The second of seven scheduled preseason games for the Sabres goes by the wayside tonight. The Bruins were supposed to come to Buffalo and First Niagara Center for the first puck drop of the season downtown.

Because a bunch of rich guys can't figure out how to split $3.3 billion per year, it won't happen. So we started a new feature this week: Who's hurting tonight because of the lockout?

*It's the gray jacket security guards who worked the wrestling event Tuesday night in the arena and pointed people to their sections and directed them to the correct exits.

*It's the smiling woman at the concession stand who sold my son a drink and won't get paid again tonight.

*It's the ladies at the beer kiosk who sold me a Bud and appreciated the tip because they won't be getting many now.

*It's the guy who would earn money sweeping the aisles after the game.

*It's the group of people who would put up and take down the plexiglass for the boards.

Who's not hurting? The owners and players who have hardly bothered to try and get the games started.

---John Vogl

Housley, McClanahan excited to see talent at USA Hockey prospects game

Phil Housley and Rob McClanahan will get an up-close look at 40 of the top American-born prospects in hockey when they coach in the USA Hockey All-American Prospects Game. The former Sabres participated in a conference call this afternoon to discuss the showcase, which will be held at 7 p.m. Saturday in First Niagara Center.

Housley and McClanahan marvelled at the growth of USA Hockey, with Housley giving credit to McClanahan's 1980 gold medal-winning Olympic team. The coaches are looking forward to seeing the talent of the draft-eligible players and said they will encourage them to have fun while playing a team-orientated game.

The pair also talked about their memories of Buffalo, with their first games being the highlights.

To hear the 28-minute conference call, click the audio file below.

---John Vogl

With Sabres at Canadiens wiped out, so are the extra funds for these folks

The Sabres were supposed to play their first preseason game of 2012-13 tonight, a matchup in Montreal with the Canadiens. Of course, because of the fight between the NHL and the NHL Players' Association that caused the owners to lock their  doors, all games scheduled for September have been canceled.

Thus, we have the start of a regular feature: Who's hurting tonight because of the lockout?

Certainly not Habs owner Geoff Molson or Sabres owner Terry Pegula. I'm sure there are going to be enough Molson Canadians sold around the world to bring the Habs' boss a few bucks, and Pegula will probably earn more in interest today than most fans will make all year.

It's definitely not the players. Sabres defenseman Tyler Myers got $10 million deposited in his account July 1. Montreal forward Max Pacioretty is getting paid to play in Switzerland.

It's these folks, among others:

*The waitress at Dunn's Famous, who would have gotten a tip from people who bought smoked meat and poutine while walking back from the game.

*Anna Sophia, a friend of the blog who introduced yours truly and Florida writers George Richards and Steve Gorten to heaven in a bottle, also known as Sortilege maple whisky. She usually works McLean's Pub on Monday nights, and it would have had a nice crowd before and after the game.

*The woman who works concession stands in Bell Centre.

*The guy working the parking lot on Rue Saint Antoine.

I'm sure they all could have used the cash that would have come their way because of the game. Instead, a bunch of rich guys can't figure out how to split $3.3 billion a year.

---John Vogl

Red Wings executive refers to NHL players as 'cattle' at the owners' ranch, according to report

Mooooo-ve over Gary Bettman. NHL players have a new league executive to target.

Detroit Red Wings Vice President and Alternate Governor Jim Devellano referred to players as "cattle" in an interview with Island Sports News. He also said teams have an unwritten rule about targeting other teams' restricted free agents, which is being looked at by agents and fans as a sign of collusion.

Devellano's incendiary comments show why Bettman and his deputy commissioner, Bill Daly, are adamant about being the only league officials who are allowed to comment on the lockout. They have threatened team owners with a $1 million fine and the loss of draft picks for any unauthorized comments.

There's no way the NHL would authorize some of the things Devellano said about the lockout in the interview.

"It's very complicated and way too much for the average Joe to understand," Devellano told Island Sports News, "but having said that, I will tell you this: The owners can basically be viewed as the Ranch, and the players, and me included, are the cattle. The owners own the Ranch and allow the players to eat there. That's the way its always been and that the way it will be forever. And the owners simply aren't going to let a union push them around. It's not going to happen."

He also mocked the NHLPA's solidarity in the report.

"The players are doing what they have to do, but it's funny, you talk about solidarity and a handful have already bolted," Devellano said in the interview. "You know who they are...like they need the money...yeah right!

"But I would caution them to be very careful not to get hurt because as of two days ago, we pulled all their league insurance and all the benefits for each player, so if they get hurt, the NHL will not pay them one dime until they are cleared by league doctors and to the owner's satisfaction that the player is 100 percent fit and able to perform."

Devellano, who has been in the NHL for 45 years, also commented on the Philadelphia Flyers' $110 million offer sheet to restricted free agent Shea Weber this summer. The Nashville Predators matched the offer and retained the defenseman.

"I will tell you there is an unwritten rule that you don't do that, but they did, and just like everything else in life, some people are great to deal with, some aren't," Devallano said. "If you are asking me if it's right, I would say there is, again, an unwritten rule...we all know it in the NHL, but not everyone follows it."

Prominent player agent Allan Walsh quickly tweeted the comment signals an open-and-shut case of collusion.

---John Vogl

Sabres' Ennis signs with Swiss team

Tyler Ennis is off to Switzerland.

The center has become the second member of the Sabres to commit to playing overseas during the lockout, agreeing to a deal with Langnau of the Swiss league.

Defenseman Christian Ehrhoff signed with a German club earlier in the week.

Langnau announced it has agreed to deals with Ennis and Minnesota's Jared Spurgeon, a childhood friend of Ennis. NHL stars Brad Richards and Joe Thornton have also signed with Swiss teams.

---John Vogl

Should anger about the NHL lockout carry over to Pegula-owned Amerks, too?

The idea of an NHL boycott borders on laughable. Gary Bettman is right when he says hockey has the greatest fans. The die-hards will be back as soon as the lockout ends. The casual observers will return when football season is over.

But just for discussion sake (since there are no on-ice doings to talk about), let's say some Sabres fans are really ready to boycott the NHL. They're sick of owners shutting down the league and tired of giving them money.

Should that anger carry over to the Rochester Americans?

Terry Pegula owns the Sabres and Amerks. Sure, he's been a good guy and even the Sabres aren't mad at him. ("As far as we see it, there’s no grudge against Terry or anyone. He’s been good to us," Thomas Vanek said.)

But one simple fact remains: Pegula is one of the 30 owners who voted unanimously to lock out the players and shut down the league. Bettman made it clear there are no ifs, ands or buts. The owners are all in this together, so Pegula helped turn off the NHL.

So why would fans who are mad at the NHL want to help Pegula recoup the $20.75 million he's doled out in signing bonuses by following the Amerks?

There already has been a lot of chatter in local hockey circles about the Amerks. They'll be stacked with players such as Marcus Foligno, Cody Hodgson and Brayden McNabb. They're bringing (at least) one of their games to Buffalo.

I get it. Fans just want hockey. My guess is Pegula, a fan at heart, wants to see the pucks fly in the NHL just as bad as anyone. Sabres players must think that, too, the way Ryan Miller and Vanek (among others) are publicly urging him to speak up.

But until he brings back the NHL, should fans give their money to his AHL team?

---John Vogl

Amerks moving game to Buffalo

There's still no sign the NHL will play in Buffalo this season, but the AHL will.

The Rochester Americans announced today they are moving a home game to First Niagara Center. The Sabres' minor-league affiliate will host the Hamilton Bulldogs at 7:35 p.m. Oct. 23 at the foot of Washington Street. The game was originally scheduled to be held Oct. 21 in Blue Cross Arena at the War Memorial.

Tickets will go on sale at 9 a.m. Sept. 28 at the First Niagara Center box office and at Tickets.com. Seats in the 100 Level Preferred locations and the 200 Club Level will be $25. Tickets in the 100 Level corners and ends are $20, and tickets in the 300 Level will cost $15.

The game will remain included in the Amerks' season ticket-holder package. Rochester fans who cannnot attend can trade the ticket for one to a future game or receive a refund.

---John Vogl

NHL cancels preseason games through September 30, four Sabres games wiped out

The NHL lockout just got tangible.

The league announced this afternoon that it has canceled all preseason games through Sept. 30. Four exhibitions featuring the Buffalo Sabres are affected, including two home games.

"The cancellation of the schedule was necessary because of the absence of a Collective Bargaining Agreement between the NHL Players’ Association and the NHL," the league said in a statement.

The Sabres were scheduled to open the preseason Monday in Montreal. Next Wednesday's game against Boston in First Niagara Center is canceled, as are the Sept. 28 visit by the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Sabres' Sept. 29 trip to Toronto.

Three games remain on Buffalo's exhibition slate: at Columbus on Oct. 2; at Boston on Oct. 5; and at home against the Blue Jackets on Oct. 6.

Training camp is supposed to open Friday.

---John Vogl

Lockout lies, Florida Panthers edition

The Florida Panthers were one of the teams to open the lockout with a message to the fans.

"The work stoppage will not deter our organization from fulfilling its responsibilities to our fans and our community," Panthers general partner Cliff Viner wrote on the team website Sunday. "In fact, we will use this challenging time as an opportunity to be even more active in South Florida, and offer even more special events and experiences for our incredible fans."

That active community spirit didn't last long.

The Panthers have canceled an event scheduled for Saturday in Fort Lauderdale, according to good friend George Richards of the Miami Herald. The news comes one day after the Panthers laid off about a dozen people, including the man behind mascot Stanley C. Panther.

"We thank all of those former staff members for their efforts," Panthers President Michael Yormark wrote in a release.

The poor Panther is not alone. The Ottawa Senators have laid off anywhere from 11 to 40 people. The NHL held a staff meeting today and told workers they'll work four days a week and their pay will be cut by 20 percent, beginning Oct. 1, according to Puck Daddy.

Meanwhile, the NHL and NHLPA have now gone a full week without formal negotiations on how to split $3.3 billion. That's billion, with a b.

---John Vogl

Buffalo youth hockey teams will open for All-American Prospects Game

Three of Buffalo's youth hockey teams will get to showcase their skills prior to the All-American Prospects Game.

USA Hockey has announced the Buffalo Saints 18U team will host the Amherst Knights 18U team at 12:30 p.m. Sept. 29 in First Niagara Center. Immediately following, the Buffalo Jr. Sabres 18U team will host the Greater Boston Jr. Bruins 18U squad. Both games are free of charge and open to the public.

The All-American Prospects Game, which will feature 40 of the top American-born players eligible for the 2013 draft, will start at 7 p.m. Tickets are on sale.

---John Vogl

Regier, Sabres' coaches turn focus toward AHL and Amerks

Sabres players are off-limits while the NHL and NHL Players’ Association search for a collective bargaining agreement, so Buffalo’s front office is focusing on the organization’s minor-leaguers. The American Hockey League will continue as scheduled, and training camp for the Rochester Americans opens Sept. 28.

“We’ll focus on the things we have control over, which is going to be the Rochester Americans,” Darcy Regier, the general manager for the parent club and its affiliate, said by phone. “We’ll spend a lot of time as a staff with the coaches and with the scouts, kind of doing some realignment or resetting of priorities. We’ll continue to work and figure out ways to become better while we wait for the solution on the CBA side.”

The Sabres have already assigned their top prospects to Rochester. Marcus Foligno, Cody Hodgson, Brayden McNabb, Corey Tropp and Zemgus Girgensons are skating with the locked-out veterans now, but they’ll head to the Amerks next week.

“I’m hopeful that they look for the opportunity inside of this,” Regier said. “They’re going to be able to continue learning and playing, and the bulk of the players won’t have that same opportunity. It should give them a leg up, and it should allow them to continue developing and learning and working."

Sabres coach Lindy Ruff was a regular in Rochester during the 2004-05 lockout, attending practices and games to get a feel for the players who’d eventually be on his team. Amerks coach Ron Rolston can expect similar visits.

“Lindy and his staff will be helping Ron and his staff,” Regier said. “They’ve already had some meetings."

---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 | 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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