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NHL debut brings tears of joy for Sabres' Varone

By John Vogl

Phil Varone's first thought was he had been traded. Rochester coach Chadd Cassidy pulled the center off the ice during practice Wednesday, and Varone immediately started thinking he had to pack his bags.

He did, but he wasn't going to another organization. He was going to Buffalo.

The 23-year-old took part in the Sabres' optional skate this morning and will make his NHL debut tonight against Carolina in First Niagara Center. He'll play in the middle of Marcus Foligno and Brian Flynn.

"I don't think words can describe it," Varone said. "Extremely humbled, extremely excited, nervous. It's been a long time coming. I've worked for it. I've worked my whole life for it.

"When it finally comes you don't expect it, but I feel extremely fortunate to be in this situation right now. I'm going to try and take advantage of it."

Varone (pronounced vuh-Roan-ay) leads the Amerks with 33 points, including 25 assists, in 38 games. Drafted but not signed by San Jose, he is in his third season in the Sabres' organization. No moment will be like this one.

"It brought some tears to my eyes," Varone said. "I called my parents right away. It's something I'll never forget, for sure."

To hear all of Varone's chat, click the audio file below.

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 |