By Mike Harrington
TAMPA, Fla. -- Trainers and equipment men on cell phones on the bench were noticed. So were reporters doing likewise in the stands. No Sabres were called off the ice during practice today in the Tampa Bay Times Forum and the players retreated to the locker room to watch TSN/NHL Network just like the rest of the hockey world.
"Did anybody get traded yet?" Zenon Konopka asked to team staff as the team started to leave.
No one yet. Not Matt Moulson or Jaroslav Halak or Chris Stewart.
"It's hard to concentrate. It really is," said coach Ted Nolan. "These guys are human and going through all kinds of emotional feelings, whether they'll be here, whether they get moved."
None of the main principals had heard much and Halak and Stewart knew that someone had already been acquired in their rumored spots (Ilya Bryzgalov in Minnesota and Ales Hemsky in Ottawa).
"It's been stressful so far," Halak said. "It's been not fun so far but we'll see what's going to happen."
"He's a right winger, I'm a right winger and they did pick him up," Stewart said of Hemsky. "It doesn't take that much to figure it out."
That said, Stewart said he'd be OK to stay with Buffalo too.
"You can't read too much into it. It's that time of the year," he said. "Either you're going to be here or not. I'm excited for the challenge. If you move, you just take it one step at a time."
Moulson is almost certain to leave but his destination remained uncertain by the time practice ended.
"I've never been in this position before. Nothing much I can do," Moulson said. "It was good to get on the ice, get a skate in and take your mind off things."
Nolan said he had not heard from GM Tim Murray on the trade of defenseman Brayden McNabb or the waiver claim of Cory Conacher. He said this was one of the more unusual practices of his career.
"It was pretty hard to concentrate on defensive zone coverage and neutral zone coverage and some of the aspects we have to work on on a daily basis," he said. "It's hard to get the guys to focus. I told them if there's ever a day to practice your concentraton level, this is the day to concentrate on it."