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Big 'pivot' on Webster Block a blueprint to follow on the ice

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An artist rendering of HarborCenter as it will look at the corner of Washington & Scott.


By Mike Harrington

 

The Sabres have been too stale for too long. We've all heard that line. I've used it too. But you look at the roster and you see plenty of change the last two years. Now the coach is different. One thing I've noticed about Terry Pegula & Co. is they're not afraid to try it another way.

"We tend to pivot," team president Ted Black told me today after the press conference to transfer the Webster Block to the team from the city that officially paves the way for the spectacular, $172 million HarborCenter. "This project was off our radar completely. We're not land developers.

"The epiphany for us was that somebody is going to build something right at our front door. We're either going to maybe like it or hate it. At that point, Terry said, 'There's one way to fix that. We'll do it ourselves.' "

I'm with Black on the project. It's a complete game changer for downtown. He said hockey fans should have "goosebumps when they think about the possibilities of having three rinks under one NHL campus/roof." The potential is huge for things like youth tourneys, college and junior games, the Regals partnership announced yesterday. It would help with ancillary rink space for a return someday of the Frozen Four and World Juniors too.

Pretty obvious the Sabres have to pivot on this team too. They know it. The play is better but the results remain discouraging. That said, Black likes what he's seen from interim coach Ron Rolston.

"I like what I'm hearing from the players about Ron," Black said. "I think Ron is 'Cool Hand Luke' when it comes to a lot of this stuff. He doesn't get rattled. He pays attention to detail. He's certainly not looking up to the ceiling the first time he's in a building like your first time in New York City as a country bumpkin. I really like what I'm hearing from the players. They're playing a little bit better right now.

"Ron is good at developing players. Especially with a team that does have a corps of young guys, they probably need that kind of mentoring more than others."

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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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