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Sabres' youth at center puts them in 'scary category,' Ruff says

Should the lockout end, the Sabres' top two centers -- Tyler Ennis and Cody Hodgson -- will have a career average of 115.5 games played. That's less than 1 1/2 seasons.

The youth and inexperience at such an important position has been noted by coach Lindy Ruff.

"We’ve taken a step that has put us in a little bit of a scary category because we’re young there," Ruff said.

It sounds as if the Sabres will go "center by committee" to help their 22-year-old middle men.

"I think there’s where we have a little versatility with Ville [Leino]. We’ve got some versatility with Steve Ott in the middle of the ice," said Ruff, who was OK with giving up Derek Roy's skill in exchange for Ott's grittiness. "You can say the emergence of Tyler playing center ice probably made the move possible, with Cody looking to be right in there in a 1-2 spot and Tyler the way he played trying to get him that same type of ice time, and Ott playing on the third line or in that situation, or even playing in our top two lines as being a grittier-type winger or centerman.

"We know we’re going to need a guy on faceoffs and [Ott is] excellent in faceoffs, he can play the middle so it gives us a little bit different look."

Ruff likes what Ott brings to the club, one season after the Sabres were humiliated by Milan Lucic and the Bruins.

"It’s something that you talk about during the year when you’re going through tough times, what you think is missing. It isn’t something you just all of sudden go to somebody in the offseason," Ruff said. "We should be a lot tougher team, a lot more irritating team to play against. I think that message has been heard."

The full audio of Ruff's interview is below.

---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.

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