By Mike Harrington
MONTREAL -- The Sabres have hugged it out and Patrick Kaleta is back in the lineup tonight at the Bell Centre.
That was the mood of the dressing room after today's pregame skate. Kaleta, suspended for five games and held out Sunday for another, was greeted by a swarm of Montreal media in the wake of Sunday's kerfluffle in Washington and said he had no issue with what Ryan Miller said after the game.
(The Sabres did not make Miller available to the media today even though Jhonas Enroth is starting; Miller, like many goalies, does not speak prior to games in which he is playing).
"He's like my brother, one of my best friends on the team," Kaleta said of Miller, his former road roommate. "Some things were misunderstood there but we're family. Our season hasn't gone the way we wanted it to go and everyone knows that. Our job is to come together as a team and go out there and battle."
On Monday's off day, the Sabres put Miller in a video interview on their Web site where he apologized for his comments.
"It definitely wasn't an issue in this dressing room," said Steve Ott. "We actually, to be honest with you, have a really tight, close team. That's something that it's tough because there's a lot of negativity in losing. You want to continue to find the 'positivity' in winning when everybody is happy. We hold each other in here strongly accountable. We have a strong group, a strong core and I think that's really keeping the team together."
Interim coach Ron Rolston had no problem with what Kaleta's anger after being scratched.
"We want players like that. If they're not in that mindset, than you probably don't want them on your team," Rolston said. "That was made a lot more outside than it is inside. There's no issue there.
Kaleta said he understand he'll be watched even more closely now in the wake of the hit on Brad Richards.
"I'm trying to be better as a player, go out and play my game, play on that line and not go over that line," he said.
Said Rolston: "He's got to play the way he is. If he doesn't, then we're taking away what he gives to the team. He just has to find the line he can play on and below and not go over the line. But if you take away his game, you take away him as a player. We want that attitude out on the ice."
Here's the audio:
taggedPatrick Kaleta | Ron Rolston | Ryan Miller | Steve Ott