By Amy Moritz
The immigration issues are completed and Cory Conacher will play his first game as a Buffalo Sabre tonight when they host the Chicago Blackhawks at 7:30 p.m.
Picked up from Ottawa off waivers on Wednesday, Conacher was going to meet the team in Florida for Friday night's game against the Panthers. But there was a holdup. Conacher explained:
"Basically what I did was I flew from Ottawa to Toronto Thursday," he said. "I ended up staying right across the border in the Niagara/Fort Erie area and then the plan was I was going to drive over the border, do what I had to do at the border and then I’d be good to go. Basically they gave me the wrong immigration slip in my passport. ... It was tough news to hear but, I guess this is a nice debut to make here at home. It’s going to fun to play in front of this sold-out crowd and I’m sure the fans are coming for me and not Pat Kane."
That last bit? Was sarcasm.
Conacher and Kane played together over the summer and Conacher even contacted Kane when deciding to wear No. 88 with the Buffalo Sabres. (There's a certain Buffalo/WNY respect going on here.) He had worn 89 with Tampa Bay and Ottawa and while the number was available in Buffalo, he chose 88 out of respect for former Sabre Alexander Mogilny.
"I obviously knew Mogilny and I don’t think I’ll get 76 goals in a year. That’s going to be pretty tough," Conacher said. "They didn’t say I couldn’t take it but I had a talk with the equipment guys and they mentioned that as well. I said there’s no point. He’s a guy who had a good run here in Buffalo … so I didn’t want to take out of respect. ... There were a couple numbers going through my head. I like high numbers and I liked 89 so I just decided to go one lower with 88."
It's a potential Buffalo love-fest tonight at First Niagara Center what Kane playing back home for the first time in four years and Conacher, the all-time leading scorer at Canisius, making his Sabres debut.
While waiting out his immigration status, Conacher took in the Golden Griffins playoff wins on Friday and Saturday. Cody Hodgson and Marcus Foligno came over to Buffalo State last night to check out the Ice Griffs and meet their new teammate for the first time. Hodgson said had been to a few Canisius hockey games, having played with and against current Canisius senior Taylor Law while also knowing Ben Parker, a defenseman who graduated from the Ice Griffs last year.
Listen to Conacher's comments about returning to Buffalo and what he hopes to bring to the game: