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Pregame chatter: Kaleta done for the season (ACL), was slated to return to NHL next week

By Mike Harrington

NEWARK, N.J. -- Patrick Kaleta's season is over, ending Friday night in Rochester when he suffered a torn ACL to his right knee during the Amerks' win over Lake Erie. That's the word from a Buffalo News source and coach Ted Nolan pretty much confirmed that prior to tonight's game against the New Jersey Devils while adding this bombshell:

Kaleta was rejoining the Sabres for practice on Monday and was likely going to be in the lineup for their next game, Thursday in First Niagara Center against the New York Rangers.

Obviously, that won't happen now.

"It doesn't look good and that's usually the case right there," Nolan said when asked if he could confirm the injury was season-ending. "We're hoping it's not but it possibly could be."

As we posted earlier today, Kaleta was injured when he somersaulted over Lake Erie goalie Calvin Pickard while cutting in on the goal and his knee struck the crossbar. The injury came late in Rochester's 5-3 win and Kaleta had to be helped off the ice, putting no weight on his leg.

Continue reading "Pregame chatter: Kaleta done for the season (ACL), was slated to return to NHL next week" »

Tough news out of Rochester: Kaleta may have serious leg injury

Kaleta
Patrick Kaleta (middle) celebrates his goal Nov. 11 with the Amerks along with Matt Ellis (left) and Chad Ruhwedel. (Rochester Democrat & Chronicle)

By Mike Harrington

NEWARK, N.J. -- Only two weeks before the Rochester Amerks play their just-about-sold-out outdoor game Dec. 13 at Frontier Field against the Lake Erie Monsters, Angola native Patrick Kaleta has almost certainly been knocked out of the unique affair after suffering what appears to be a severe leg injury in last night's 5-3 win over the Monsters.

And it sounds like the calls for him to return to Buffalo are going to have to stop too.

Veteran Rochester Democrat & Chronicle beat reporter Kevin Oklobzija tweeted late this morning that there's still no official word from the team on Kaleta's status but it certainly doesn't sound good.

Oklobzija reported late last night that Kaleta barreled over Lake Erie goalie Calvin Pickard and the back of his right leg slammed into the crossbar as he somersaulted over Pickard. 

Amerks coach Chadd Cassidy would only said "it didn't look good" and "it's going to be a while" when asked about Kaleta.

Kaleta had one goal and three assists in seven games for the Amerks and had been playing a clean game with only two penalty minutes. He's back in the AHL, of course, after clearing waivers when former Buffalo GM Darcy Regier opted not to put Kaleta back on the roster following his 10-game suspension for a head shot against Columbus' Jack Johnson.

New Sabres president of hockey operations Pat LaFontaine and interim coach Ted Nolan both pushed off questions about Kaleta recently, emphasizing he had to make major changes to his game to avoid suspensions before he would be a candidate for a recall.

Amerks update: Kaleta scores, Armia set to make debut

By John Vogl

Patrick Kaleta's first three games in Rochester have featured one goal and no penalty minutes, which is the ideal recipe for a return to the Sabres someday.

Buffalo sent Kaleta to the Amerks at the conclusion of his 10-game suspension to have him redefine his game. He scored short-handed Monday for the Amerks' only goal in a 2-1 shootout loss to Lake Erie. The eight-year NHL veteran has one goal, two points, a plus-1 rating and no penalty minutes in his first three games back in the AHL.

(Say what you will about Kaleta, but here's a fact. The Sabres' penalty kill was 93.3 percent with him. It is 75.5 percent without him.)

The Amerks return to action Wednesday, and they'll have a big addition. Joel Armia, the Sabres' first-round pick in 2011, is ready to debut after breaking his hand during training camp.

The Amerks lead the Western Conference North Division with a 5-3-4 record. They'll have a logjam starting Friday, though. Provided no one gets hurt Wednesday, Rochester will have seven veterans -- forwards Kevin Porter, Mike Zigomanis, Jamie Tardif, Drew Bagnall, Matt Ellis and Kaleta, plus defenseman Alexander Sulzer -- but can dress only five per game because of league rules.

Audio: Sabres' Regier discusses future of Patrick Kaleta

Darcy Regier

Ott on Kaleta's 10-game suspension: 'It's hard because there's no injury on the play'

By Mike Harrington

Patrick Kaleta has appealed his 10-game suspension and the Sabres are waiting to find out when his appeal process will be heard. Tonight's game against Vancouver will already be his fourth one out of the lineup. Fellow Sabres agitator Steve Ott said the issue he's had with Brendan Shanahan's ruling is that Columbus defenseman Jack Johnson was not hurt on the play and went on to get 23 minutes of ice time in the Oct. 10 game against the Sabres.

"It's hard because there's no injury on the play," Ott told The News today after the Sabres' pregame skate. "I have a hard time with it for that simple fact. Is it suspendable? Absolutely, as in the guy could have really been hurt. But could have is not good enough for me.

"No one wants to see anybody injured by any means but that has to play in the equation if you're going to throw a book at somebody. He didn't even fall. Could it have been bad? Sure. For me, the injury has to play into the situation."

That said, Ott acknowledged my theory that Kaleta could be at a career crossroads much like the one Matt Cooke hit when he was with Pittsburgh. Cooke, in fact, told ESPN.com's Pierre LeBrun yesterday in Toronto that he spoke with Kaleta late Monday night after the Sabres-Wild game and told him he'd be available to talk about how he dealt with his own situation at any point in the future.

"I'd rather have to tone down a player than try to raise him up," Ott said. "That's huge. If it's the essence of keeping him in the lineup, maybe you have to town him down a little bit but we need Patty to play hard minutes. And let's be honest here: Every other team in the league would like to have a Patty Kaleta out there. Every team has a guy that plays hard that way. You can tone down somebody. You can't tone them back up. What way would you rather have it?"

Kaleta was on the ice in today's morning skate wearing a full face shield as a result of the ensuing fight after the hit with Columbus' Jared Boll. The Sabres said they will make him available to the media after the timetable for his appeal is established, perhaps as soon as tomorrow.

Kaleta to appeal 10-game suspension

By Mike Harrington

Sabres winger Patrick Kaleta is going to take advantage of provisions in the new CBA the players signed with the NHL in January and appeal his 10-game suspension, according to multiple reports.

Kaleta will appeal the ban, of which he has already served three games, to NHL commissioner Gary Bettman. Once Bettman hears Kaleta's case and makes a ruling, Kaleta can appeal further to a neutral arbitrator. The arbitrator can uphold the suspension, shorten it or even lengthen it.

Kaleta got his 10 games for a check to the head of Columbus' Jack Johnson on Oct. 10 but the length of his suspension was based on his status as a multiple offender (five previous fines/suspensions). 

Kaleta suspension 2 games and counting as hearing pushed back to Tuesday

By Mike Harrington

CHICAGO -- The long arm of NHL law corraled Patrick Kaleta again late Friday night as the Buffalo Sabres winger has been suspended pending a hearing from the league for a hit to the head of Columbus defenseman Jack Johnson during Thursday's game in First Niagara Center.

Kaleta was initially scheduled to have a hearing with the league Friday afternoon but it has been pushed back to an in-person meeting Tuesday while the Sabres are in New York to face the Islanders.

Kaleta will not play until his case is heard, thus he is out for Saturday's game against the Chicago Blackhawks in United Center and Monday's home game against Minnesota. As I pointed out today, an in-person hearing means Kaleta is likely looking at a ban of at least five games. This is his fourth suspension since 2009.  

Former Blackhawk John Scott will likely return to the lineup in Kaleta's spot and get to face his former team.

Kaleta facing NHL hearing, another suspension of possibly 5+ games for hit vs. Jackets

By Mike Harrington

Stop us if you're heard this before: Patrick Kaleta is in trouble with the NHL. Big trouble.

The league announced this morning that the Sabres winger is facing a discipline hearing for an apparent elbow to the head of Columbus' Jack Johnson during the first period of last night's game. No penalty was called on the play and there was no apparent injury to Johnson. Here's a look. It's not much. It's at about 29 seconds:

 

Johnson finished the game so that helps Kaleta. But it's an in-person hearing -- meaning it could be more than five games. And Kaleta, of course, has a record. A big rap sheet.

He got five games for last year's boarding incident in New York on Brad Richards and four games in 2011 for a head butt against Philadelphia's Jakub Voracek. Kaleta also was fined for a head butt in 2010 and suspended two games for a boarding infraction against Philadelphia's Jared Ross in 2009.

So given all that, don't expect much leniency from the league on this one.

Sabres' Girgensons, Kaleta miss practice with hand injuries, Rolston says they'll be fine

By John Vogl

Hand injuries kept Sabres forwards Zemgus Girgensons and Patrick Kaleta off the ice today, but Sabres coach Ron Rolston doesn't expect either player to miss much time.

Girgensons was unable to take part in the shootout portion of the Sabres' 3-2 loss to Toronto on Saturday night.

"He's fine," Rolston said today in First Niagara Center. "There's just swelling right now."

Kaleta, who was a history of hand injuries, needed ice following a fight with Troy Bodie with two minutes left in regulation.

"He's just a little dinged up from the game, nothing major," Rolston said.

The Sabres play the Leafs again tonight, this time in Air Canada Center. Buffalo did not do any work with forward lines and defensive pairs during today's morning skate, but the lineup is as follows:

Forwards -- Cody McCormick, Cody Hodgson, Marcus Foligno, Kevin Porter, Mike Zigomanis, John Scott, Luke Adam, Brian Flynn, Corey Tropp, Joel Armia, Mikhail Grigorenko and Johan Larsson.

Defense -- Jamie McBain, Chad Ruhwedel, Tyler Myers, Brayden McNabb, Nikita Zadorov and Drew Bagnall. Rasmus Ristolainen will travel with the team but will only play if there is a late scratch.

Goaltenders -- Ryan Miller, Matt Hackett.

To hear Rolston's news conference, click the audio file below.

Sabres, Kaleta out to prove early they have each other's back

By John Vogl

Patrick Kaleta didn't even see Jamie McBain get dropped with a clean, hard check Sunday night. He just knew McBain was a new teammate and he wanted the Sabres defenseman to know that Buffalo players stick up for each other.

"He’s a new guy, and he’s got to be welcomed on the team," Kaleta said today in First Niagara Center. "He’s got to know that we have his back."

Kaleta and Cody McCormick went after Canadiens who leveled big hits during the Sabres' 5-4 victory in the preseason opener. Kaleta says he might not have challenged normally mild-mannered Alex Galchenyuk during the regular season, but exhibition games are a time to send messages.

"We want to establish that we are a team and no one is going to take liberties on old guys, young guys," Kaleta said. "You’re going to have to deal with all five guys on the ice. We want to establish that early. We want to be a team that’s tough to play against, and you’re going to have to go through five of us, not just one."

The Sabres play their second of seven exhibitions Tuesday in Columbus. To hear coach Ron Rolston talk about the first game, the play of first-round picks Rasmus Ristolainen and Nikita Zadorov, and look forward to the Blue Jackets, click the audio file below.

After extra game out, Kaleta is back

By Mike Harrington

MONTREAL -- The Sabres have hugged it out and Patrick Kaleta is back in the lineup tonight at the Bell Centre.

That was the mood of the dressing room after today's pregame skate. Kaleta, suspended for five games and held out Sunday for another, was greeted by a swarm of Montreal media in the wake of Sunday's kerfluffle in Washington and said he had no issue with what Ryan Miller said after the game.

(The Sabres did not make Miller available to the media today even though Jhonas Enroth is starting; Miller, like many goalies, does not speak prior to games in which he is playing).

"He's like my brother, one of my best friends on the team," Kaleta said of Miller, his former road roommate. "Some things were misunderstood there but we're family. Our season hasn't gone the way we wanted it to go and everyone knows that. Our job is to come together as a team and go out there and battle."

Continue reading "After extra game out, Kaleta is back" »

Kaleta furious to be a scratch upon return from suspension

By Mike Harrington

WASHINGTON -- Interim coach Ron Rolston didn't do any line work today during a brief pregame skate in the Verizon Center so there was no way to tell which two of the Sabres' forwards were getting scratched tonight against the Capitals. Patrick Kaleta, now eligible after serving a five-game suspension, was doing late work with John Scott but the media assumed that was simply extra skating in the wake of his absence.

Wrong. Rolston stunned reporters by announcing Kaleta is a scratch.

He apparently stunned Kaleta too when the Angola native got to the rink this morning.

Multiple observers said Kaleta was screaming his disgust on the ice during the work while reporters were in the locker room and having their pregame briefing from Rolston. And when the media got to Kaleta, he didn't hold back about the state of a team that's 13th in the East and going nowhere.

Continue reading "Kaleta furious to be a scratch upon return from suspension" »

Video: Patrick Kaleta's reputation


Watch all the segments from the most recent Bucky & Sully Show here.

Audio: Sabres' Kaleta 'trying to do my job' during boarding penalty on Rangers' Richards

By John Vogl

RALEIGH, N.C. -- With a disciplinary hearing coming at 3 p.m., the Sabres' Patrick Kaleta declined to get into specifics regarding Sunday's boarding penalty on the Rangers' Brad Richards. But he said this afternoon he feels like a "bag of garbage" for taking a penalty that led to two goals in the Sabres' 3-2 shootout loss, and he had nothing to say to Richards.

"I’m going to keep it as limited as I can, but I’m just sorry for the position I put the team in trying to kill that penalty," Kaleta said in the team hotel. "I feel for that, for putting the penalty killers out there and them getting the two goals. It makes me feel like a bag of garbage after seeing that.

Continue reading "Audio: Sabres' Kaleta 'trying to do my job' during boarding penalty on Rangers' Richards" »

Kaleta set for 3 p.m. phone hearing with NHL for boarding penalty

By John Vogl

The Sabres' Patrick Kaleta won't have to wait long to hear how long his latest suspension is for boarding the Rangers' Brad Richards.

Kaleta has a 3 p.m. phone hearing scheduled with the NHL. Though he is a repeat offender based on last season's four-game benching for head-butting, which will impact his penalty, an in-person meeting with discipline czar Brendan Shanahan would likely have signaled a longer suspension than whatever Kaleta gets.

The Sabres have a 1:15 p.m. practice scheduled in Raleigh, where they face the Carolina Hurricanes on Tuesday.

You be Shanahan on the Kaleta & Girardi hits: How many games?

By Mike Harrington

"Mr. Kaleta, Mr. Shanahan is on line 1."

OK, so we know that conversation is taking place today. As it should. 

But will there also be "Mr. Girardi, Mr. Shanahan is on line 2?"

Patrick Kaleta's cross-check on Brad Richards in the third period last night was a cheap and competely ill-advised play, especially when the Sabres were killing a penalty. It was brutally dangerous, with Richards going head-first into the boards. And it looked very serious when the Rangers center was writhing in pain on the ice.

Still, it was pretty odd how quickly Richards returned; NHL senior vice president for player safety Brendan Shanahan usually takes injuries into account on his supplemental discipline decisions and the fact Richards came right back will help Kaleta some. But only some.

(9 a.m. update: TSN's Bob McKenzie reports Kaleta has a phone hearing. That means the maximum suspension is going to be 5 games)

Kaleta had a four-game suspension in 2011 for a head-butt and his reputation around the league is plain terrible. Look what Mark Spector, a senior columnist for Sportsnet.ca, tweeted last night: "Patrick Kaleta is a dangerous, irresponsible player. Has been for years. Game doesn't need him. Be a better place without him."

Continue reading "You be Shanahan on the Kaleta & Girardi hits: How many games? " »

Rangers call Kaleta's hit on Richards 'disgusting' and 'stupidity;' Sabres forward fails to appear after game

By John Vogl

NEW YORK -- Patrick Kaleta apparently had nothing to say. The New York Rangers said plenty.

Kaleta was ejected in the third period of the Sabres' 3-2 shootout loss in New York on Sunday night for boarding Brad Richards. The Sabres right winger, who is expected to have a disciplinary hearing with the NHL, was not in the dressing room following the game. A team spokesman said he would not comment.

"That's just stupidity," Richards said of the hit. "If we're all going to look at each other's numbers, ram each other from behind headfirst into the boards, it's going to be a tough game to play. It's not hockey.

Continue reading "Rangers call Kaleta's hit on Richards 'disgusting' and 'stupidity;' Sabres forward fails to appear after game" »

Locker room audio: Emotions still raw among players, staff with Lindy-less Sabres

By Mike Harrington

TORONTO -- Today is the first day since July 20, 1997 that Lindy Ruff is not the head coach of the Buffalo Sabres. Jeez. Think of everything that has gone on in the hockey world since then, or just simply in life. 

For 12 players and three of the four assistant coaches on the roster, Ruff is the only head coach they've ever played for or worked under in the NHL. So it's pretty surreal that they're getting ready for tonight's game against the Toronto Maple Leafs without him.

The players and coaches were on the bus in Amherst yesterday to come to Toronto and some said it was odd Ruff wasn't there yet. When he showed up, he hopped on board and said he had some news. Several thought he was announcing a trade. Instead, he said he was fired and thanked them. And then he hopped off.

"That's when we totally realized changes were on the way," captain Jason Pominville said here today. "We all said, "We gotta go out there and see him.' It was pretty emotional for everyone."

Continue reading "Locker room audio: Emotions still raw among players, staff with Lindy-less Sabres" »

Sabres' Kaleta happy to be playing again after fearing the worst

By John Vogl

UNIONDALE -- As paramedics stabilized his neck on a stretcher and prepared to take him to a hospital, Patrick Kaleta feared the worst.

"You get thoughts cruising through your mind there, hoping everything turns out all right, wondering if it’s my last game that I ever played, things like that," Kaleta said today in Nassau Coliseum. "Luckily, everything’s good and I’m able to come back and play."

Continue reading "Sabres' Kaleta happy to be playing again after fearing the worst" »

Day off shelved, defense thin at practice

By Mike Harrington

The Sabres have hit the ice for practice in First Niagara Center -- a practice that was not on their schedule. The team had posted today as a day off and informed the media as such** but is now holding a normal workout.

(**We have inquired with the NHLPA about the practice. Under the new CBA, teams have to have two days off a month at home and two on the road and they must be planned in advance. They cannot be changed "absent compelling circumstances" and it's assumed that a mere slump like the 1-6-1 abyss the team is currently is would not qualify. Stay tuned for more on that.)

Robyn Regehr (ankle) skated on his own for about 20 minutes prior to the practice. Pat Kaleta is also back working out with the team as an extra forward. The injured Andrej Sekera and Christian Ehrhoff are not on the ice.

The one unexpected absentee is defenseman Mike Weber so there are only five D on the ice. We'll have to find out Weber's status after practice.

There's no change on the lines:

Vanek-Hodgson-Pominville
Foligno-Ennis-Stafford
Ott-Grigorenko-Hecht
Scott-McCormick-Gerbe
Ellis-Kaleta 

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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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