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Kane, Stanley quite a duo across Western New York

HumveeBy Mike Harrington

Yes, it's not the Sabres but there were plenty of people in Niagara Falls, South Buffalo and West Seneca on Saturday who hope that someday it might be. That said, they were plenty happy to see South Buffalo's Patrick Kane bring the Stanley Cup home to Western New York for the second time in four years.

Each player on the Cup-winning team gets the trophy for 24 hours and Saturday was Kane's day in honor of the Chicago Blackhawks' championship secured with their dramatic Game Six comeback in June over the Boston Bruins. Kane also came with the Conn Smythe Trophy for his MVP performance in the playoffs. 

Kane's day started with some family pictures with the Cup and Conn Smythe along Lake Erie before he headed to the Niagara Falls Air Base to greet service personnel, as well as members of the Buffalo Sled Veteran Warriors and Buffalo Warriors hockey teams (below right). Kane brought the Cup into Hangar 907 on a large military humvee (above left) and was greeted by Congressman Brian Higgins as well as military personnel.

Warriors"For you guys to give up your personal lives and sacrifice for what you do for our country is unbelievable," Kane told the crowd. "I can carry around a Stanley Cup that's 35 pounds or an MVP trophy that's brought along with us here today but you guys carry our country on your back. It's really amazing."

Then it was on to one of Kane's favorite pizza stops, Imperial Pizza on Abbott Road in South Buffalo. Several hundred fans, many in Blackhawks jerseys, were on hand to greet Kane as was Mayor Byron Brown. The crowd was even bigger at the West Seneca Town Rink on Union Road, where a couple thousand greeted Kane as he rode the Cup to the front door on a zamboni and then took it inside to a huge ovation from several hundred jersey-clad youth hockey players. 

The microphone at the West Seneca ceremony was dead but it was still clear Kane was being presented a proclamation of "Patrick Kane Week" in the town and a No. 88 jersey of the West Seneca Wings, his youth hockey team for five years.

"It was a thrill of a lifetime, riding in and being on the back of the Zamboni carrying the Stanley Cup, with all the little kids and people wearing the jersey that  you once wore screaming your name," Kane said. "So it was definitely a fun moment."

There were plenty of them for the Blackhawks star Saturday. Stay tuned to Buffalonews.com for move photos and a video wrapping up the day with photographer Mark Mulville and Senior Sports Columnist Jerry Sullivan. For an early look at some photos and Vine videos of the festivities at all three sites, you can review my Twitter account here. 

For a look at what all the Blackhawks have done with the Cup this summer, check out NHL.com's Summer With Stanley Blog.

Zamboni
Kane exits the zamboni with the Stanley Cup in West Seneca.


 

Sabres announce 97 percent renewal of season tickets, boost cap to 16,000

By Mike Harrington

Couched in a triumphant e-mail sent out by the team this morning is the fact the Buffalo Sabres have had a small drop in season ticket renewals for the 2013-14 season.

But the team still has plenty of right to thump its chest on this topic in the face of its struggles on the ice. The Sabres' rate of keeping customers or bringing a few new ones on continues to be remarkable, even with the 4 percent price hike that was clumsily unveiled on the afternoon of Fan Appreciation Night.

The glossy numbers are these:

---The Sabres announced today that 97 percent of their season subscribers have renewed their seats, which is a small drop from the 99 percent that stood pat heading into the 2013 lockout-shortened season.

---The team has increased the cap of season ticket-holders from 15,400 to 16,000, which means it will have less work to do to get to the 19,070 capacity each night in First Niagara Center. This is the third straight year the cap has been increased. 

---The new 600 season seats came from members of the Blue & Gold club waiting list, which now has more than 2,500 names.

"We again wanted to continue to try and reach the demand that exists for Sabres season tickets," team president Ted Black said in a statement. "There have been thousands of very loyal and very patient fans in our Blue & Gold Club that have been waiting for years to be eligible to purchase season tickets. We wanted to reward that loyalty by continuing to transition people from that waiting list to our ever-growing base of season-ticket holders. Our fans remain among the most dedicated in the league and we continue to be appreciative of their support."

The Sabres also announced Mini-Packs will go on sale Sept. 5, allowing fans to purchase from 5-40 games at up to 10 percent off box office prices.  Existing Mini-Pack holders can renew their package starting on Aug. 28. Mini-Pack holders pay no ticket service charges and have the ability to purchase playoff tickets before the public (based on availability).

The Sabres are still taking enrollments for the Blue & Gold club at Sabres.com. In addition to getting on the waiting list, club members can purchase tickets (including playoff games) before the public and get 10 percent off at The Sabres Store.

Amerks, Niagara University, Sabres alumni all slated to play in Rochester outdoor hockey fest

By Mike Harrington

Officials in Rochester unveiled plans Tuesday afternoon for a 10-day outdoor hockey festival at Frontier Field, home of the Red Wings. It's being dubbed "Frozen Frontier" and a rink will be laid out roughly from third base to first base in the 12,000-seat baseball stadium.

The showcase event will be Dec. 13 at 7 p.m., when the Rochester Amerks meet the Lake Erie Monsters -- the Colorado affiliate once coached by new Sabres assistant Joe Sacco -- in an AHL game.  The next night, the Niagara University men's team meets archrival RIT in another 7 p.m. game.

Here's the complete schedule of events.

• Friday, December 13 (7:00 p.m.): Amerks vs. Lake Erie Monsters
• Saturday, December 14 (Noon): Women -- RIT Tigers vs. Clarkson Golden Knights
• Saturday, December 14 (7:00 p.m.): Men -- RIT Tigers  vs. Niagara Purple Eagles
• Sunday, December 15 (1:00 p.m.): Sabres/Amerks Alumni Game
• Saturday, December 21: Section V Rivalry Day - matchups TBA
• Sunday, December 22: Section V Rivalry Day - matchups TBA

The Rochester Democrat & Chronicle has the skinny on ticket information. All-access passes for the entire 10-day festival are $110, $80 and $60 and went on sale Tuesday. The Amerks game is included in their season ticket package. Single-game Amerks seats go on sale Sept. 21 and $35 for 200-level seats, $25 for 100 ends, and and $15 for limited-view 100 level seats.

The Gretzky trade: Hockey changed forever 25 years ago today

By Mike Harrington

It was 25 years ago this afternoon -- Aug. 9, 1988 -- that the NHL changed forever.

It happened via an epochal moment some say is akin to Paul Henderson's 1972 goal to beat the Russians or the 1980 U.S. Miracle on Ice, even though it never happened near the ice.

This is the anniversary of the day the Edmonton Oilers stunned Canada and the entire hockey world by trading Wayne Gretzky to the Los Angeles Kings. The Kings had been in the NHL for 21 years by that point but this is the moment most hockey experts say is responsible for the growth of the sport in California. The Kings and Ducks have won Stanley Cups and plenty of youth players nowcome from the Golden State, including Sabres defenseman Chad Ruhwedel.

The Edmonton Sun, naturally, has a special section that's well worth a look. It's in multiple parts, with lots of video and written by veteran columnist Terry Jones. Today's part, the trade day itself, is particularly noteworthy. 

For an incredible collection of newspaper images from the day, go to this page on BergerBytes, the lively blog by longtime Toronto radio reporter Howard Berger.

For 99 facts about the deal in honor of Gretzky's number, check out this entry on Yahoo's Puck Daddy blog.

NHL.com has a great collection of videos from the day at this page. The actual announcement of the trade by Oilers owner Peter Pocklington is at the top of this post and click below for Gretzky's memorable breakdown when he referred to teammate Mark Messier, and his recollections of the deal today.

Go to the video: The work of Dan Dunleavy, RJ's heir apparent

By Mike Harrington

Her's a couple of videos that show the work of new Sabres play-by-play man Dan Dunleavy, announced today as Rick Jeanneret's substitute for the next three years and the full-time voice of the team beginning in 2016.

The first is a collection of clips from the 2010 game in Anaheim that Dunleavy called with Harry Neale on MSG while filling in for Jeanneret and the latter is a pregame interview with Neale that Dunleavy did last season for Leafs TV.

Jeanneret signs 3-year deal, slates 2016 retirement; Sabres hire Dunleavy from Toronto to be groomed as replacement

By Mike Harrington

Bright and early this morning, the Sabres answered a significant question in the minds of their fans that's been lingering around First Niagara Center for a few years: When is legendary play-by-play man Rick Jeanneret hanging up his microphone?

We now know the answer. Jeanneret has signed a new three-year contract that calls for him to reduce his schedule through the 2015-16 season before retiring to become an ambassador for the team.

DDThe club has also announced a succession plan for Jeanneret that includes the hiring of veteran Toronto sportscaster Dan Dunleavy (left) to be his heir apparent in the play-by-play role. Dunleavy will come on board this year and will work the games Jeanneret does not travel to, eventually becoming the team's full-time voice for the 2016-17 season.

(Go to this post for some video clips of Dunleavy's work)

“This decision was obviously very difficult for me to make,” Jeanneret said in a statement released by the team “It has become a yearly deliberation, deciding if the coming year would be my last or what season I would finally step away. I initially thought doing a full year of games this coming season and then retiring was the way to go.

"After discussing it with my family and with the Sabres, we all thought signing this new deal was the right choice. I get to continue to do what I love while slowly reducing my workload and eventually turning the reins over to Dan, who I greatly respect and believe Sabres fans will grow to love.”

Jeanneret was named the winner of the Foster Hewitt Memorial Award for excellence in broadcasting last November and will begin his 42nd season with the Sabres in October. If the plan holds, he will retire in 2016 after spending 44 seasons calling Sabres games.

Continue reading "Jeanneret signs 3-year deal, slates 2016 retirement; Sabres hire Dunleavy from Toronto to be groomed as replacement" »

Tropp agrees to deal with Sabres

Forward Corey Tropp and the Buffalo Sabres have agreed to terms on a one-year contract, general manager Darcy Regier announced Tuesday.

The 6-foot, 185-pound Tropp played in just six games with the Rochester Americans last season before he was lost for the year with a knee injury. Tropp, a third-round draft choice in 2007,  has 66 points (21 goals, 45 assists) and 166 penalty minutes  in 109 American Hockey League games. He has eight points and 20 penalty minutes in 34 games with the Sabres.

Amerks slate preseason game; Sabres sign Tardif for Rochester

By Mike Harrington

The Rochester Amerks announced today they will stage a home-and-home preseason series against the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins on Sept. 25 & 27. 

The first game will be played at Bill Gray’s Regional Iceplex (formerly The Sports Centre at MCC) on the campus of Monroe Community College in Brighton. Ticket information for the 7:05 game will be announced at a later date. The Sept. 27 game is in Wilkes-Barre.

Meanwhile, Canadian network RDS is reporting the Sabres have signed veteran forward Jamie Tardif to a one-year, two-way contract for $550,000. Tardif, 28, is a 6-foot, 205-pound right winger who instantly gives a boost to the Amerks' offense. He is a native of nearby Welland, Ont. 

(4 p.m. update: The Sabres confirmed the Tardif signing)

Tardif scored a career-high 30 goals in 62 games last year for the Providence Bruins and added seven goals in 12 playoff games. He also had a 27-goal season in 2010-11 for Grand Rapids, the Detroit farm club.

Tardif, who has spent most of the last seven years in the AHL, made his NHL debut last year with two scoreless games for Boston. 

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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 | [email protected]

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 | [email protected]


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 | [email protected]

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