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Amerks coach complimentary of Sabres' prospects Girgensons, Hackett, Larsson

By John Vogl

ROCHESTER -- The Sabres' season is done, and their minor-league club can't afford another loss. Rochester is in a 2-0 hole to the Toronto Marlies, and Game Three of the best-of-five series is Wednesday night in Rochester.

Though the team is in trouble, the prospects are getting rave reviews from Amerks coach Chadd Cassidy. Here are his thoughts from today on forward Zemgus Girgensons, selected in the first round last year, and center Johan Larsson and goalie Matt Hackett, who were acquired in the trade that sent Jason Pominville to Minnesota.

Continue reading "Amerks coach complimentary of Sabres' prospects Girgensons, Hackett, Larsson" »

Yes, that was one interesting presser to cap a bizarre season

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Ted Black and Darcy Regier. (Harry Scull/Buffalo News)

 


By Mike Harrington

As you would surmise, I have been deluged with comments/questions/criticisms/attaboys/epithets and everything in between in the wake of yesterday's Sabres season-ending press conference. I read them all and regular followers of my Twitter feed know I do my best to answer as many legitimate requests/opinions as possible.

In this case, however,  that's pretty much impossible. But there have been many solid questions, many repeated times over, that it's probably best to answer them here. Some thoughts in no particular order:

---1). Ticket talk -- The No. 1 question people wanted asked was obviously the status of Darcy Regier and it was the first question asked and answered. By far the No. 2 inquiry was to demand answers about what in the world the Sabres were doing with a ticket price hike being announced in the face of a non-playoff year -- and with letters about the details arriving on Fan Appreciation Day.

After the presser, I got all kinds of crazy comments about people wanting to know why so much time was spent on tickets! Say what? The first thought is those people must not be ticket holders. The second is that Ted Black tied reasoning to the NHL CBA and the team was harshly criticized Sunday by the New York Post. We had similar concerns but held them until we could ask Black about them Monday. Black's insistence that the Sabres needed to qualify for revenue sharing brought more follow-up questions because it flew in the face of the owner's long-stated platform (since the owner doesn't speak to the media and thus the fans, I'm omitting his name here).

Continue reading "Yes, that was one interesting presser to cap a bizarre season" »

Video: Highlights from the Sabres' news conference with Black, Regier

Video: Vogl, Harrington and Sully on end of Sabres' season

Sabres sticking with Regier, who is confident he can create a Stanley Cup champion after enduring future suffering


By John Vogl

Darcy Regier says he understands that Sabres fans have suffered. He's willing to bet they'd be OK with suffering more if the pain results in a Stanley Cup.

The Sabres' bet is that Regier is the one who can bring that championship.

Regier and team President Ted Black wrapped up the 2013 season today with a news conference in First Niagara Center. As they move toward next season, Black made it clear the Sabres will do so with Regier in the general manager's chair, which he's sat in since 1997.

"I don’t take any of this for granted in any way," Regier said. "I’m extremely grateful, not just for this opportunity but for being here even on a day like today; this is great. The reality of it is if I didn’t have the confidence that I in the general manager’s position, along with the people I work with, could accomplish building a Stanley Cup winner, I wouldn’t be here."

Continue reading "Sabres sticking with Regier, who is confident he can create a Stanley Cup champion after enduring future suffering" »

Live chat at 3 p.m.: Reaction to Sabres' season-ending news conference w/ Harrington

Video: Sabres' end-of-season news conference

First round of NHL playoffs set; pick the winners

By John Vogl

The shortened, 48-game season is over, and 16 teams are set to compete for the Stanley Cup. The playoffs begin Tuesday, and the matchups (as always) could be intriguing.

There's an Original Six showdown as Boston meets Toronto, which has had two lockouts and no playoff games since 2004. Neighbors Montreal and Ottawa will face off. Perennial contenders/bridesmaids San Jose and Vancouver are set to meet.

Here are the matchups, and pick the winners.

Sabres are in NHL's lower class based on playoff appearances in last 11 seasons

By John Vogl

The Sabres want to be viewed as a winning, first-class organization. In reality, they are a lower-class club over the last decade-plus and a lower-middle-class team during the past six years.

The Sabres have made the postseason just twice in six seasons and only four times in the last 11. They are in the bottom nine of the NHL during the 11-year slide, and they are in the bottom 13 of the league during the last half-dozen seasons.

Here’s how it breaks down:

*During the past 11 seasons, only five teams have made fewer postseason appearances than the Sabres – Columbus, Florida and Winnipeg/Atlanta (one each), Edmonton (two) and Carolina (three). The Sabres’ four visits are equal to Minnesota, Phoenix and Toronto.

*During the past six seasons, only seven teams have made fewer postseason appearances than Buffalo – Edmonton (zero) and Carolina, Columbus, Florida, the New York Islanders, Toronto and Winnipeg/Atlanta (one each).

The Sabres’ two visits are equal to Calgary, Colorado, Dallas, Minnesota and Tampa Bay.

Here's each team, in alphabetical order, with their rate of making the playoffs since 2007-08 and 2001-02:

Anaheim 4 of 6, 7 of 11

Boston 6 of 6, 9 of 11

Buffalo 2 of 6, 4 of 11

Calgary 2 of 6, 5 of 11

Carolina 1 of 6, 3 of 11

Chicago 5 of 6, 6 of 11

Colorado 2 of 6, 6 of 11

Columbus 1 of 6, 1 of 11

Dallas 2 of 6, 5 of 11

Detroit 6 of 6, 11 of 11

Edmonton 0 of 6, 2 of 11

Florida 1 of 6, 1 of 11

Los Angeles 4 of 6, 5 of 11

Minnesota 2 of 6, 4 of 11

Montreal 5 of 6, 8 of 11

Nashville 4 of 6, 7 of 11

New Jersey 4 of 6, 9 of 11

Islanders 1 of 6, 5 of 11

Rangers 5 of 6, 7 of 11

Ottawa 4 of 6, 9 of 11

Philadelphia 5 of 6, 9 of 11

Phoenix 3 of 6, 4 of 11

Pittsburgh 6 of 6, 7 of 11

San Jose 6 of 6, 10 of 11

St. Louis 3 of 6, 6 of 11

Tampa Bay 2 of 6, 5 of 11

Toronto 1 of 6, 4 of 11

Vancouver 5 of 6, 9 of 11

Washington 6 of 6, 7 of 11

Winnipeg 1 of 6, 1 of 11

Draft spot set heading into lottery

By Mike Harrington

Saturday night's games gave the Sabres a better handle on their status for the June 30 draft. Philadelphia's win at Ottawa dropped Buffalo to 12th in the East and 23rd overall in the NHL, so that means the Sabres will likely pick eighth.

The order could change if a) Buffalo takes advantage of its 3.6 percent chance at winning the top pick in Monday's draft lottery to leapfrog to No. 1; or b) slips to ninth if one of the teams below it on the draft list beats even worse odds to claim No. 1. 

The Sabres also own Minnesota's No. 1 pick in the Jason Pominville trade but the Wild will not be in the draft lottery, as they are going to the playoffs after Saturday's 3-1 win at Colorado that eliminated feisty Columbus. The BlueJackets scored three goals in the third period to beat Nashville, 3-1, but finished ninth in the West.

Minnesota's pick will likely be around No. 15-16 but the order of playoff teams isn't finalized until the playoffs are complete.

Florida, with the worst record in the NHL, has a 25 percent chance of winning the lottery. No. 2 Colorado is at 18.8 percent, followed by Tampa Bay (14.2) and Nashville (10.7). No one else is over a 10 percent chance.

Video: Wrapping up locker cleanout day

Mike Harrington and Bucky Gleason give their thoughts on Sabres' locker cleanout day, including the uncertain status of Ryan Miller and Thomas Vanek:

Vanek if it's a long rebuild: 'It probably makes sense for both parties to move on'

By Mike Harrington

The Sabres were back at First Niagara Center today to clean out their lockers, have exit physicals and meetings with staff that included General Manager Darcy Regier. As could be expected after another non-playoff season, the mood was a somber one. The Sabres have missed the playoffs two years in a row, four seasons out of six and seven years out of 11.

Said winger Drew Stafford of this year's miss: "There's just no excuse for that."

While reporters have heard a lot from Ryan Miller this week about his potential exit from Buffalo and his 500th game -- and Miller spoke again today for more than 11 minutes -- the star attraction today was winger Thomas Vanek. And like Miller, Vanek admitted he thought plenty that Friday's shootout win over the Islanders was his last game as a Sabre.

"Let's be honest," Vanek said. "I'm not stupid. I know I have a year left and they can probably deal me for prospects, young guys, whatever else is out there. Yeah, I've thought about it. If it looks like it's a long rebuild, then it probably makes sense for both parties to move on."

Vanek wants a quick, trade-based rebuild as opposed to a build through the draft. But the latter scenario appears more likely.

"I don't know what the plan is," Vanek said. "If they're turning it over to the younger guys, it's a turnover. Or are they going to build around us again? It's all speculation at this point because you guys don't know and I don't know what's going to happen."

Miller broke no new ground today over what he's said in the last couple of days. 

"I’m convinced more and more as I play longer and longer it’s more about the attitude and the kind of team you build," Miller said. "It’s not always about a bunch of skill pieces. You have to define the way you play. And we can find a way to play here, if we can define it and do it every night, we’ll have just as good a chance as anybody."

That said, Miller knows he may not be part of any new plan about how the Sabres may play.

"Around this stage of a contract, you have to be realistic," Miller said. "In the last year of your deal, if you’re not part of the plan, you become an asset that’s tradable. So I’m just trying to stay open to coming back and trying to stay excited about playing hockey games in the NHL if it’s not going to work out."

One player that was not in the building today was winger Ville Leino, who suffered from a collapsed lung late in the season and has not spoken about that injury -- or about his status as a potential candidate for an amnesty buyout under the new CBA.

Regier will undoubtedly be asked about Leino Monday afternoon, when the GM and team president Ted Black will hold an end-of-season meeting with the media. The Sabres declined to have such a meeting last season and were openly laughed at for that decision when the Professional Hockey Writers Association met at the draft last June in Pittsburgh. Owner Terry Pegula is not expected to attend.

Click below to hear audio today from Vanek, Miller and Tyler Myers and stayed tuned to the Sabres Edge for video from today's proceedings.

Thomas Vanek

Ryan Miller

Tyler Myers

Video: Sabres' postgame reaction after 2-1 win over Islanders

Hear from Jochen Hecht, Thomas Vanek and Ryan Miller./p

Sabres' Hecht says goodbye; Miller, too?

By John Vogl

Jochen Hecht announced his retirement from the NHL tonight and said goobye to Buffalo. Ryan Miller, while speaking in general about change, might have bid farewell, too. Their quotes:

Hecht -- "It’s best for everybody to start a new life. It’s been a lot of fun. I’ve got some great memories. I lived here and loved this place for 10 years, 11 years, and Buffalo became a second home to me.

"Buffalo has been like a second home for everybody. I was fortunate enough to play my first game in Buffalo with St. Louis, and I played my last game in Buffalo. It’s kind of full circle, came around. It was a lot of fun."

Miller -- "Everything comes to an end. It’s not always clean and easy. Most of the time, it’s little bit dirty and not any fun. It was hard to watch these guys kind of leave a team one by one, but it’s the nature of sports, nature of life. You can’t just hold on to something that’s not sustainable. Everything becomes stagnant if you’re always trying to hold on to one thing.

"You have to keep searching. You have to keep talking to people, meeting people, living life. That’s when things happen for you. That’s when things like winning a championship can happen is when you accept that you can’t just hold on. You have to let go a little bit.

"I’ve just been talking to a lot of people in the last year or so about those kind of things. The common thing is that right there. You don’t chase it. You just experience life and you do the right things, and those things just kind of happen."

Vote for your three stars

Live from First Niagara Center: Islanders at Sabres

Sabres inform season-ticket holders that prices are going up 4 percent next season

By John Vogl

The cost of owning Sabres season tickets is going up again.

Buffalo's season-ticket holders received a letter today -- on Fan Appreciation Night -- informing them of an across-the-board increase of 4 percent. The per-seat increase is $4 to $1 per game, which equates to package increases of $173 to $47 over this season's prices.

The NHL salary cap, meanwhile, will go down from $70.2 million this season to $64.3 million next season.

"As part of the new Collective Bargaining Agreement with our players, all teams must produce revenue primarily through ticket sales, in order to keep the stability of the league and its franchises strong," John Sinclair, vice president of tickets and service, wrote in the letter.

Continue reading "Sabres inform season-ticket holders that prices are going up 4 percent next season" »

Islanders still need victories while Sabres focus on saying goodbye, Miller's 500th game

By John Vogl

The playoff race in the Eastern Conference is over as far which eight teams will advance, but the seedings still need to sprout. That means the Islanders have a lot more to play for tonight than the Sabres.

Buffalo will finish its disappointing season with Fan Appreciation Night in First Niagara Center. The Islanders will try to give their fans a favorable postseason matchup.

New York is eighth in the East, but it has the same number of points (54) as sixth-place Ottawa and the seventh-place Rangers. The two teams from New York each have one game left, while the Senators play twice.

The Isles will want to win to give themselves the highest seed possible.

Continue reading "Islanders still need victories while Sabres focus on saying goodbye, Miller's 500th game" »

Ryan Miller's Buffalo townhouse goes up for sale

By John Vogl

Ryan Miller said today his future with the Sabres is undecided. He's apparently decided he can unload his Buffalo home, though.

Miller's townhouse in the city has been listed for sale at Realtor.com. Miller purchased the residence in 2006 for $348,500, according to Buffalo News real estate transactions. It was listed today with an asking price of $659,900.

Continue reading "Ryan Miller's Buffalo townhouse goes up for sale" »

Mike Liut - Ryan Miller's agent - weighs in on his client joining him in 500-game club

By John Vogl

Only 28 goaltenders have played more NHL games than Mike Liut. The former standout for the St. Louis Blues and Hartford Whalers skated to the crease in 664 games, and he is one of only 61 goalies to top 500.

The group will grow to 62 on Friday when Ryan Miller reaches the milestone for Buffalo.

Liut, who is Miller's agent, is of course happy for his client.

Continue reading "Mike Liut - Ryan Miller's agent - weighs in on his client joining him in 500-game club" »

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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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