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Bruins' Team Canada connection still has Golden glow

Canada bench
Boston coach Claude Julien, second from left, joins Mike Babcock and Lindy Ruff in celebrating Canada's gold medal Sunday in Sochi (Getty Images).

By Mike Harrington

Boston Bruins coach Claude Julien is a little tired. So are Bruins forwards Patrice Bergeron (Canada) and Loui Eriksson (Sweden), who joined Julien as part of Sunday's gold medal game at the Sochi Olympics. The Bs are in town for their first post-Olympic game tonight against the Sabres but the gold-medal glow is still on Julien, one of Mike Babcock's assistants, and Bergeron in the wake of Canada's 3-0 win over the Swedes in the finale.

Team Canada, of course, blanked Team USA, 1-0, in the semifinals and allowed just three goals the whole tournament.

"You got 20 elite players and they're all committed to playing hard," Julien said today. "The fact we had really good numbers coming back, we had set from the get-go in the summer that we wanted players that could play both ends of the ice and that's what we got. Even though we didn't score as much as we would have liked to, the scoring chances were there. We created a lot.

"Maybe the finish was a bit of a challenge for whatever reason but at the same time, we played so well defensively that we never gave other teams much of a chance to score some goals. There was an unbelievable commitment from our whole group to do it right."

Was the finale The Perfect Game, like so many international hockey experts have called it?

"I would say the last two games were close to that," Bergeron said. "It was a great example of everyone buying in and just playing, sticking to the system, to do what the coaches asked us to play and we got the result. Every shift you could see guys back-pressuring like there was no tomorrow. The Ds were stepping up. We were really closing up and not giving up much time and it gave us the success that we got."

"It was a great experience from day one to the last day," Bergeron added. "It was something very special, something I'll never forget. I'm very happy and proud of the way we've all done it."

After mining silver, Tallinder and Enroth get extra night of rest

Sabres defenseman Henrik Tallinder (right) watches the Sochi medal ceremony continue with fellow Team Sweden blueliners Niklas Hjalmarsson (3) and Oliver Ekman-Larsson (Getty Images).

By Mike Harrington

Defenseman Henrik Tallinder and goaltender Jhonas Enroth both practiced fully with the Sabres this morning but will sit out tonight's game against Carolina after returning from the Olympics. Tallinder, in fact, overnighted in Newark, N.J., and didn't return until today.

Tallinder and Enroth both had prime seats for Sunday's gold medal game, the 3-0 loss to Canada. Tallinder got one shift in the game after hastily being inserted in the lineup when center Nicklas Backstrom failed a doping test. Enroth served as Henrik Lundqvist's backup goalie, as he did for five of the six games in the tournament.

Both players were thoroughly impressed with the way Canada played in the tourney's ultimate game.

"It was a different level compared to us,' Tallinder said. "We were a couple of guys short but even if they would have been into the game, we would have had to play a really, really, really, really, really good game to be able to beat them."

Although neither saw much ice time, both reveled in the Olympic experience. Tallinder also played for Sweden in Vancouver in 2010. Enroth enjoyed watching some cross country skiing and particularly enjoyed his interaction with Lundqvist, one of his idols from his homeland.

"It was a great experience, especially practicing and playing with Lundqvist," Enroth said. "I picked up a couple things he's done. I wish I got in one game but it is what it is and it was still a great experience."

"You're around athletes the whole time, not just hockey players," Tallinder said. "Athletes in general like figure skaters, curlers, speed skaters, skiers. It's fun to see how they prepare for a contest like they're in. It's completely different from hockey."

Canada remains golden in Olympic hockey

By John Vogl

Canada didn't need overtime to prove it was the best this time.

The Canadians rolled to another shutout in the medal round this morning and blanked Sweden, 3-0, to win a second straight gold. Canada won in 2010 with an overtime victory against the United States. The True North advanced to this year's gold-medal game by shutting out Team USA in the semifinals.

Canada goalie Carey Price was the most outstanding player of the tournament. He finished with a shutout streak of 164:19. He was 5-0 with an 0.59 goals-against average and .972 save percentage.

Sweden played without center Niklas Backstrom, who was disqualified after testing positive for a banned substance commonly found in allergy medication.

Latvian hockey player tests positive for stimulant, disqualified from Olympics

By John Vogl

A hockey player from Latvia, the Ted Nolan-coached country that is one of the feel-good stories of the men's Olympic tournament, has been disqualified by the International Olympic Committee after he tested positive for a banned stimulant.

The Latvian Olympic Committee was not aware that Vitalijs Pavlovs was taking the supplement, according to the report issued today by the IOC.

Pavlovs, who plays for Dynamo Riga in Russia's Kontinental Hockey League, said his team doctor recommended the supplement. It contains the banned subtance methylhexaneamine, which is reportedly found in many over-the-counter training aids.

As a result of the positive test, Pavlovs has been disqualified from Latvia's 2-1 quarterfinal loss to Canada and will have to return his diploma given for the team's eighth-place finish. Pavlovs skated 16:56 in the game against Canada and had two shots. He had one assist and a plus-1 rating in five games for Latvia while skating 13:55 per game.

Austrian hockey president: Choosing Vanek as Olympic captain went wrong

By John Vogl

Austria had a terrible Olympic tournament, and the country's hockey fans are reeling as to one of the reasons why. The players spent too much time partying.

The backlash is in full swing, and Thomas Vanek is in the middle of it.

The former Sabres captain wore the "C" for Austria, which went 1-4 with a goal differential of minus-12. The Austrians disappeared with a meek 4-0 loss to Slovenia in the elimination round.

"Chose Vanek as team captain to have an experienced player and this obviously went wrong," Austrian Ice Hockey Federation President Dieter Kalt said at a news conference.

Several players reportedly spent the night before the elimination game in the Austria House and a local bar drinking until 6 a.m.

"After internal discussions there will be consequences," said coach Manny Viveiros in this story that was translated through Google. "I am very disappointed by the team. ... The behavior of individual players is inexcusable."

Viveiros said he didn't feel he needed to babysit the team, but in retrospect that was a mistake in judgment.

"We will publish their names in the next days," the coach said.

Vanek, who is regarded as an Austrian sports hero, had no goals, one assist and a minus-4 rating in four games. The Sabres traded him to the Islanders in October, and he is set to be an unrestricted free agent this summer.

Canada survives scare from Nolan-led Latvia to set up semifinal showdown with USA

By John Vogl

Ted Nolan might have had trouble going back to his native Canada if Latvia won today. Shea Weber made sure The True North avoided the monumental upset and set up a semifinal showdown with the United States.

Latvia, coached by the Sabres' Nolan, had Canadian fans chewing their nails and holding their breath in their Olympic quarterfinal. Weber finally put the 11th-seeded team away, scoring on the power play with 6:54 left to give Canada a 2-1 victory.

The United States, meanwhile, had a much easier time. The Americans dropped Czech Republic, 5-2, to earn a chance at revenge against their biggest rival. Canada beat the United States in overtime of the gold-medal game at the 2010 Vancouver Games.

The winner of Friday's matchup gets a chance at gold, while the loser will compete for bronze. The other semifinal features another fierce rivalry as Finland will play Sweden.

Canada was a huge favorite over the Latvians, but that didn't matter to goaltender Kristers Gudlevskis. The minor-leaguer from the Tampa Bay organization made 55 saves to give his country a shot at hockey immortality. Weber's power-play goal finally gave Canada a chance to breathe.

Canada opened the scoring with 13:37 gone on a goal by Patrick Sharp, but Latvia answered 2:04 later on a goal by Lauris Darzins. Despite the loss, the Latvians -- who also boast Sabres rookie forward Zemgus Girgensons -- put themselves on the hockey map.

The Americans advanced with help from a timely goal by David Backes. The forward for the St. Louis Blues scored with 1.8 seconds left in the first period to put the Czechs in a back-breaking 3-1 hole.

Zach Parise scored midway through the second period to make it 4-1, and the U.S. team coasted home. James van Riemsdyk, Dustin Brown and Phil Kessel also scored for the Americans. Goaltender Jonathan Quick made 21 saves.

No medal for host as Finland eliminates Russia in Olympic quarterfinals

By John Vogl

Alexander Ovechkin was willing to give up his NHL career in order to lead host Russia to an Olympic medal. He didn't have to leave Washington, but he's not getting a medal, either.

Russia completed its third straight disappointing Olympics this morning with a 3-1 quarterfinal loss to Finland. The NHL agreed to go to the Sochi Games in part because Ovechkin said he was going no matter what, but it turned out to be a wasted trip.

Russia will be medal-less for the third Olympics in a row after Finland beat goaltender Semyon Varlamov three times on 15 shots. The Russians replaced Colorado's netminder with reigning Vezina Trophy winner Sergei Bobrovsky, but it didn't matter because the hosts beat Finnish goalie Tuukka Rask just once on 38 shots.

Russia opened the scoring with a power-play goal by Ilya Kovalchuk with 7:51 gone, but Finland answered before the end of the first period with goals by Juhamatti Aaltonen and Teemu Selanne. Mikael Grandlund scored early in the second to give the Finns a two-goal cushion.

Finland will face Sweden in the semifinals Friday. Sweden scored four times in the third period to pull away from Slovenia, 5-0. Henrik Lundqvist made 19 saves for the shutout.

The other semifinal will be determined this afternoon. The United States plays Czech Republic, while Canada faces Ted Nolan, Zemgus Girgensons and Latvia. Both games are at noon Eastern time, and the winners will face each other.

Sabres' Miller to watch again as Team USA tabs Quick to start against Russia

By John Vogl

As long as he performs well, it appears the crease for Team USA may be the exclusive home of Jonathan Quick.

USA Hockey announced this morning that Quick will start in goal Saturday against the host Russians. Quick also started the opener Thursday against Slovakia, and the goaltender will be back in net for the Americans' biggest game of the preliminary round.

Ryan Miller served as the backup in the opening game. The Sabres netminder played all but 11 minutes, 31 seconds in the 2010 Olympics while being named the tournament's most outstanding player as the United States won silver.

During Team USA's selection process, which was chronicled by reporters Kevin Allen and Scott Burnside, the country's braintrust had Quick as the No. 1 netminder from Day One. He suffered a groin injury in November in Buffalo, but he's healthy now and back as the clear No. 1.

The Americans play lightly regarded Slovenia on Sunday, so Quick may get a rest during the back-to-back scenario.

United States trounces Slovakia in Olympic opener; host Russians drop Slovenia

By John Vogl

The United States couldn't have asked for a better start at the Olympics.

After taking a 1-0 lead into the first intermission, Team USA pounced on Slovakia with six goals in the second period for an easy 7-1 victory. Phil Kessel led the Americans with three points, including a goal, while Paul Stastny scored twice. Buffalo's Patrick Kane had two assists for a spot on the American score sheet.

Slovak goaltender Jaroslav Halak took a seat on the bench after allowing five goals on 25 shots in 33:30. He plays for St. Louis, which is believed to be interested in acquiring Sabres goaltender Ryan Miller.

Host Russia, meanwhile, needed two third-period goals to pull away from Slovenia and earn a 5-2 win. Finland routed Thomas Vanek and Austria, 8-4, as the former Sabres captain had one assist.

Numerology: Miller vs. Quick

By Mike Harrington

Team USA coach Dan Bylsma said point-blank here last week that "I'm a Miller family fan" while talking about the goaltending decision he faced at the Olympics. The Miller family may not be much of a fan of Bylsma right about now with the word coming out of Russia today that Los Angeles' Jonathan Quick will get the start in goal in the Americans' Olympic opener against Slovakia.

I'm going to reserve total judgment on this decision for now because I'm still thinking Bylsma is splitting the first two games, starting Quick against Slovakia and putting Miller in net for the real juggernaut Saturday against Russia, before ultimately going forward with the hotter hand.

I asked Bylsma about exactly that scenario when he was here last week and it was the only question in an eight-minute interview he brusquely shrugged off. He said only, "I'm not locked into anything." Based on his reaction, I might have been on to something there. We'll see. Miller went 18 for 18 in shots against, plus a shootout save, against Russian star Alexander Ovechkin in two games this year. That might come into play too.

That said, Miller has not played a game now since that loss to the Penguins. Starting him against Russia will be his first game in 10 days, usually a dicey proposition for a goalie.

Here's a look comparing the numbers of Miller and Quick.

2013-14 Season
Miller  14-22-3, 2.74, .923
Quick  16-13-2, 2.18, .911

Last 10 games
Miller 4-4-2, 2.84, .912
Quick 2-7-1, 2.46, .898

Vs. Pittsburgh
Miller 0-2-0, 3.55, .896
Quick 0-1-0, 9.02, .571 (gave up 3 goals on 7 shots and was pulled after one period on Jan. 30)

Miller by month
Oct. 1-10-0, 3.03, .919
Nov. 4-5-2, 3.08, .917
Dec. 5-2-1, 1.82, .949
Jan. 4-3-2, 2.29, .927
Feb. 0-2-0, 6.00, .836

Quick by month
Oct. 8-4-0, 2.56, .903
Nov. 2-1-0, 1.74, .911
Dec. DNP-injured
Jan. 5-6-2, 1.85, .925
Feb. 1-2-0, 2.68, .882

Related content:

Olympic hockey teams debut their line combinations

By John Vogl

When the best hockey players in the world come together, the results are usually impressive. Heck, just the potential for results are impressive.

The Olympic men's hockey teams held their first practices today in Russia. Here are the forward line combinations for a few of the countries:


James van Riemsdyk-Joe Pavelski-Phil Kessel

Zach Parise-David Backes-T.J. Oshie

Dustin Brown-Ryan Kesler-Patrick Kane

Ryan Callahan-Paul Stastny-Max Pacioretty


Chris Kunitz-Sidney Crosby-Jeff Carter

Patrick Sharp-Jonathan Toews-Rick Nash

Patrick Marleau-Ryan Getzlaf-Corey Perry

Jamie Benn-John Tavares-Patrice Bergeron


Gabriel Landeskog-Henrik Zetterberg-Alex Steen

Daniel Sedin-Nicklas Backstrom-Loui Eriksson

Gustav Nyquist-Patrik Berglund-Daniel Alfredsson

Carl Hagelin-Marcus Kruger-Jimmy Ericsson


Alexander Ovechkin-Evgeni Malkin-Alex Semin

Ilya Kovalchuk-Pavel Datsyuk-Alexander Radulov

Vladimir Tarasenko-Artem Anisimov-Nikolai Kulemin

Roster freeze is on: No major moves made as NHL teams stand pat at Olympic deadline

Nice snark from the Sabres Twitter feed, using this picture to announce the NHL's Olympic roster freeze was on.

By Mike Harrington

We've hit 3 p.m. Eastern time on Feb. 7. The Olympic flame is lit in Sochi and the NHL roster freeze has gone into effect with basically no moves of any consequence taking place.

The Sabres tweeted the above picture to announce the freeze and essentially confirm that the likes of Ryan Miller, Steve Ott, Matt Moulson and Henrik Tallinder will remain on the roster through the Games. It's the same elsewhere: Old friend Thomas Vanek remains an Islander and Ryan Callahan remains a Ranger.

The lack of activity was completely foreshadowed by new Sabres GM Tim Murray in an interview yesterday in Ottawa and by many other NHL executives. No reason to pay somebody over the Olympic break to not play for their new team.

In case you missed it earlier today, the Sabres put Linus Omark on waivers and sent Chad Ruhwedel and Phil Varone back to Rochester so they could play in the Amerks' six games during the NHL's Olympic break.

Rosters are now frozen until 11:59 p.m. on Feb. 23, which is the day the gold medal game will be played in Sochi. Teams cannot return to practice until Feb. 19. The Sabres play the league's first game after the break, the Feb. 25 makeup game with Carolina.

Be sure to read Sunday's editions of The News, as John Vogl and I will have dueling columns on the status of Miller: Should he stay or should he go?

Pens/Team USA coach Bylsma: 'I'm a Miller family fan'

By Mike Harrington

Pittsburgh Penguins coach Dan Bylsma met the media this afternoon at First Niagara Center just like he always would after any gameday skate. But the conversation was far from a normal one. Tonight's Penguins-Sabres game? Pffft to that. It was almost all Olympics and Ryan Miller chatter.

Bylsma and Co. have a wickedly tough decision to make in goal for Team USA next week in Sochi: Do they go with Miller, the hero of the Vancouver Games, or ride Los Angeles Jonathan Quick, less than two years removed from a Stanley Cup?

Bylsma had a good chuckle today when asked if Miller's body of work from Vancouver might have to tip the scales in his favor. Because he got peppered with similar questions about Quick when the Penguins were in Los Angeles just six days ago.

"I've been asked it a lot of different ways. I was asked it a little bit differently in LA," said a smiling Bylsma. "There's no question that Ryan Miller by all accounts was the best player maybe in the tournament in Vancouver. ... I'm a Miller family fan. I grew up in Michigan so it's not just Ryan that's a face or a name in USA and American hockey. And Ryan has certainly been that. He's had more than one USA mask on his face and he certainly was that in 2010, no question."

Continue reading "Pens/Team USA coach Bylsma: 'I'm a Miller family fan'" »

Latvian Locomotive down the middle: Girgensons back at center

By Mike Harrington

There's a Latvian Locomotive heading down the middle of the ice for the Sabres on what now looks to be a permanent basis.

Interim coach Ted Nolan said after practice today that moving Zemgus Girgensons back to center, his natural position, was not just a way to get him up to speed for playing there for Latvia during the Olympics. In fact, Nolan said, new GM Tim Murray and he have pushed aside Nolan's original thought of having Girgensons morph into a power winger and instead want him back in the middle.

Girgensons got some time there Monday against Edmonton and will be there Wednesday against Pittsburgh, with Phil Varone shifting to wing. The other winger in the current line configuration is Brian Flynn. Girgensons has five goals and 12 assists in 54 games this season.

"We talked about going forward and who we're going forward with," Nolan said. "It's really tough to find a real good center ice man. Wingers are a litle bit easier. We got a guy that grew up playing center ice. I had a good talk with him and he's real comfortable in that position."

Nolan made the change initially to relieve some of the pressure of playing center on Girgensons, who turned 20 this season.

"I was kind of flip-flopping back-and-forth when I first got here," Nolan said. "I put him at center ice because I thought he would be real good, Then you talk to some people and you have that thought, that maybe he’s a power forward. It kind of switched my mind a little bit too.

“All of sudden Tim comes in, who’s had a tremendous amount of experience in looking at this. So we kind of go back to sometimes your initial thoughts are probably some of the best. We’ll try him at that position.”

Miller says there's been no talks about contract -- or trades

By Mike Harrington

Ryan Miller's situation is kind of back to where it was in April. Any game he plays could be his last one with the Buffalo Sabres. While it seems chatter about a trade of Miller prior to the Olympics has pretty much died down, tomorrow's game here against Pittsburgh could be his final one at home in Blue & Gold if the Sabres were to deal him immediately after the Olympic roster freeze ends.

"Anything is possible," Miller said after practice today in a wide-ranging session with reporters. "Just with the way the season's gone and the direction they could be headed. But again, we'll just wait to see what the plans start to become."

Miller admitted his future remains murky because the Sabres are still trying to forge their plan going forward.

"I still don't know what to say. There's been a change here even since there was a change here before," he said, referring to the hiring of new GM Tim Murray. "So it's like I'm waiting to see what the plan is and waiting to see what they have to offer. We haven't talked about anything with regard to contracts and we haven't talked about anything with regard to trades. They're doing their business."

So I asked Miller point-blank if he's told the Sabres he wants out or if he's told them he's willing to stay. He was understandably evasive.

Continue reading "Miller says there's been no talks about contract -- or trades" »

Grieving Kane honors his grandfather, who died Monday

By John Vogl

Donald Kane was always there for his grandson Patrick. He was at the NHL draft, just months after heart surgery, when Chicago chose Patrick Kane first overall. Donald helped drop the first puck for Patrick's first game in Buffalo against the Sabres.

Sadly for the Kane family, Donald died Monday. Kane honored him during and after Monday's game with the Blackhawks, scoring twice in the 5-3 win over Los Angeles and telling everyone how great his grandfather was as a friend and role model.

“It was a tough day overall,” Kane said through tears. “He was one of my great friends growing up. It’s just a really sad, sad day. It was important to get the win, but anytime you someone taken away from you, who’s so close to you, who means so much, it’s tough to get ready for the game.

“He lived next door to me my whole childhood. We would do things like play cards and hang out by the pool throughout the summers. He came to all of my hockey games ... It was a tough day for sure.”

Continue reading "Grieving Kane honors his grandfather, who died Monday" »

Olympic berths O-plenty for current and former Sabres

By Mike Harrington

There's been a slew of Olympic team announcements this morning, and the major one that has social media abuzz and our friends north of the border in a complete tizzy is the big reveal of Team Canada that comes at 11 a.m.

No Sabres are in line for a berth with Team Canada but several current and former Buffalo players have taken their spots for Sochi today.

The most recent announcement just in from Sweden is that Jhonas Enroth and Henrik Tallinder have been named to their country's team. Tallinder also played for Sweden in 2010. Enroth joins Detroit's Jonas Gustavsson in backing up Henrik Lundqvist, while Ottawa's Robin Lehner was a surprise omission. Enroth's gold-medal performance in last year's World Championships clearly helped his case.

(Enroth told me yesterday he was quite nervous about getting the call, so it has to be a big relief)

Elsewhere, three as-expected spots were made official today: Sabres rookie Zemgus Girgensons has been named to Ted Nolan's Latvian team while Thomas Vanek (Austria) and Andrej Sekera (Slovakia) were named to their clubs, where they're both expected to be key players.

Girgensons, who turned 20 yesterday, is the only current NHL player on Team Latvia. Its roster also includes 41-year-old defenseman Sandis Ozolish, a Stanley Cup winner with Colorado who has not played in the NHL since 2008.

Vanek has been red-hot of late for the Islanders, with five goals and nine assists in his last nine games. He did this conversation with that was released today. In 28 games with the Islanders since the October trade from Buffalo, Vanek has 27 points (11 goals, 16 assists).

Sekera, a stalwart on the Carolina defense with Team USA selection Justin Faulk, enters tonight's scheduled game against the Sabres second on the Hurricanes in assists (17) and third in points (24).  He already has seven goals after never scoring more than four in a season for the Sabres and his 24 points are just five off his career high.

Former Sabre forward Jiri Novotny, the team’s No. 1 draft pick in 2001, was named to the Czech team Monday.  Milan Bartovic, a second-rounder in 1999, will play for Slovakia. Both are currently playing in the KHL.

(And of course, there's Ryan Miller with Team USA that was announced last week).

More on Miller: Is Team USA leaving No. 1 spot in goal open for Kings' Quick?

By Mike Harrington

MINNEAPOLIS -- Be sure to keep it here in a couple hours for the latest updates on tonight's Sabres-Wild game from the XCel Energy Center in St. Paul. We're on Central time, remember, so the Sabres' "morning" skate doesn't begin until 12:30 p.m. in Buffalo. (And I might even have another travel story or two.).

There was certainly more from my side-of-the-road in rural-Minnesota chat yesterday with Ryan Miller that did not make my story on his Olympic selection in today's editions.

The most notable item was Miller's admission that the Olympic process has been a huge motivating factor for him to get through the Sabres' horrific rebuilding season. We didn't talk about Miller's contract status because nothing has changed with the Sabres still pursuing GM options, but it's clear he knows he's playing for a lot this season even if the team isn't.

"You can let the struggles be a distraction but I've tried to take myself to a different place here," Miller said. "The last couple years have been a disappointment career-wise not getting a chance to be in the playoffs and doing things like that I hoped to. This really gives you something that's one of your career goals."

Continue reading "More on Miller: Is Team USA leaving No. 1 spot in goal open for Kings' Quick?" »

Sabres' Gilbert honored, humbled to join USA Hockey staff for Sochi Olympics


By John Vogl

NEW YORK -- Mike Gilbert remembers being lucky enough to watch Team USA's triumph over Russia in the 1980 Olympics live on Canadian television. He's going to be even more fortunate next year. He'll be watching the 2014 Games live in Russia, and he'll be part of it.

USA Hockey today named Gilbert to its public relations staff for the Olympics in Sochi. The Sabres' longtime vice president of public and community relations is the only one selected to join Dave Fischer, USA Hockey's senior director of communications.

"It was a little humbling," Gilbert said. "I was surprised and I was honored at the same time to be recognized that way."

Gilbert was part of USA Hockey's news conference today in which it named Pittsburgh's Dan Bylsma as coach and Nashville's David Poile as general manager. Pittsburgh's Ray Shero will be the associate GM and Brian Burke will be director of player personnel. The national team advisory group will include Stan Bowman (Chicago), Paul Holmgren (Philadelphia), Dean Lombardi (Los Angeles) and Dale Tallon (Florida).

"It really didn’t sink in a lot until today," Gilbert said. "You see all the GMs. Stan Bowman, who won the Stanley Cup a week ago, was right there. Dave Poile and Ray Shero, all these different people, and it started hitting home that, ‘Wow, these guys are the best in the United States,' and to be part of that in a small way was neat."

Crosby, Ovechkin, Tavares finalists for MVP; NHL close on committing to Olympics

By John Vogl

Archrivals Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin are in another showdown. This time, John Tavares has joined as the third man in.

The NHL announced the three finalists for the Hart Trophy this morning, and the MVP candidates are Pittsburgh's Crosby, Washington's Ovechkin and the Islanders' Tavares. Voting was conducted by the Professional Hockey Writers' Association at the conclusion of the regular season, and the winner will be announced during the Stanley Cup finals.

(For the record, the top three on the five-man ballot submitted by me, in order, were Ovechkin, Crosby, Tavares.)

After all three conclude the playoffs and the MVP race, they can start getting ready for the 2014 Olympics.

Continue reading "Crosby, Ovechkin, Tavares finalists for MVP; NHL close on committing to Olympics" »

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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 |

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 |

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 |