By Mike Harrington
The Sabres thought they were following the rules. The NHL said they were not. And Mikhail Grigorenko thus appears to be stuck in limbo.
There will be no 14-day conditioning assignment to Rochester. The NHL has apparently ruled you can't condition the flu. Grigorenko drove to Rochester yesterday and got a call at 10 p.m. Tuesday to return to Buffalo for practice today.
"You read the rules, see how they work. We thought we were doing it by the rulebook," interim coach Ted Nolan said today. "Unfortunately we weren't. It's just one of those situations where I thought we were doing the right thing. All of a sudden, it is what it is. We'll have to sit down and evaluate what the next step is."
"I needed to play. I lost a little bit of my conditioning so I needed to get it back," Grigorenko said. "There, I would have had a lot of ice time."
Grigorenko is not expected to play Thursday night in Philadelphia while the Sabres investigate what's next. The team's statement said it agreed with the league's decision but it's clear the ruling by the NHL was a surprise. It will be difficult to send Grigorenko to junior hockey with the import logjam in Quebec so now he may have to simply keep practicing in the NHL.
"He's a great kid, a real nice young man," Nolan said. "He's just put in this predicament. It's nothing to do with him. We just want to find the best solution to make him better."
Nolan said callups Luke Adam and Brayden McNabb will both play Thursday in Philadelphia. Adam was on left wing with Steve Ott and Zemgus Girgensons. McNabb floated through the defense pairs. Adam said he's learned a lot during his time in Rochester -- mostly to stop worrying about the Sabres since he was clearly in the doghouse of Darcy Regier, Lindy Ruff and then Ron Rolston.
"I was focused on what I could control," Adam said. "I wasn't focused a whole lot on coming back here, getting back to Buffalo and how Buffalo was doing."
Similarly, McNabb never got a callup last year and didn't get much of a chance in training camp. But he used the snub in a positive way to improve his game.
"I took it to heart. I wanted to be here from the get-go," McNabb. "You face some adversity. I had some last year and you learn a lot from that kind of thing."
In roster notes, Tyler Ennis missed practice today with a minor muscle tweak but Nolan said he should be fine in Philly. The coach also said the team is moving Zemgus Girgensons back to the wing, where he could project to be a star power winger, but leaving the possibility open of playing some center in the future as well.
Click below to hear from Nolan, Grigorenko, Adam and McNabb