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Miller won't dress against Penguins tonight; Sabres goalie nursing sore groin, source says

By John Vogl

PITTSBURGH -- Ryan Miller will sit out the Sabres' third game of the season tonight, with the goaltender watching as Jhonas Enroth starts against the Penguins and emergency callup Matt Hackett dresses as the backup.

Buffalo coach Ron Rolston expects Miller to be back Tuesday when the Sabres host Tampa Bay. Miller is essentially being given a maintenance day to rest a sore groin, a source tells The News.

Henrik Tallinder, who suffered an upper-body injury during Friday's 1-0 loss to Ottawa, will miss a week, Rolston said. Jamie McBain will replace the defenseman and get power-play time.

Rolston wants more from his top forwards, including Cody Hodgson and Drew Stafford, tonight against the Penguins. The coach was disappointed in his so-called scoring lines Friday.

"Our top six have to be better," Rolston said this evening in Consol Energy Center. "That’s what this league is all about, you know, is your top six have to perform and they have to be your best players on a nightly basis. I know ours will rebound tonight."

Hackett rejoins Sabres with Miller absent from morning skate

By John Vogl

PITTSBURGH -- Ryan Miller is absent from the morning skate while Matt Hackett is present, continuing a whirlwind morning for the Sabres' goaltenders.

Buffalo has recalled Hackett from Rochester following a near-shutout by Miller and an implosion by Hackett and the Amerks. The Rochester Democrat and Chronicle reported at 1 a.m. that Hackett was packing his bags and joining the Sabres for tonight's game in Pittsburgh despite getting torched for six goals in less than two periods in the Amerks' season opener.

Miller likely suffered an injury during the 1-0 loss to Ottawa, hence the need for Hackett.

Coach Ron Rolston, who is not on the ice for the optional morning skate, is expected to update the media shortly.

The Sabres' practice features only 10 skaters (John Scott, Mikhail Grigorenko, Jamie McBain, Brian Flynn, Mark Pysyk, Cody McCormick, Zemgus Girgensons, Rasmus Ristolainen, Johan Larsson and Alexander Sulzer, who was recalled to replace injured Henrik Tallinder) and the two backup goalies, Hackett and Jhonas Enroth.

Enroth was expected to start against the Penguins tonight regardless of Miller's status.

(Audio now included) Scott on the Throwdown in TO: 'I would have went after whoever they put lined up next to me'

By Mike Harrington

What should have been a routine September Monday in Sabres training camp turned into a bit of media circus this afternoon as reporters and camera crews from Toronto showed up at First Niagara Center to get the day-after thoughts about Sunday night's brawl with the Leafs in the Air Canada Centre.

The star of the show was Sabres enforcer John Scott, who was unavailable to the media Sunday. The 6-foot-8 Scott stood tall in front of his locker and calmly answered every question he got Monday, pointing out that he was not targeting Leafs star Phil Kessel. In the wake of Jamie Devane's beatdown of Corey Tropp a few seconds earlier, the Sabres were not going to be picky.

"I said, 'Phil I think we're going to have to go here, just to let you know,' " Scott said. "I would have went after who ever they put lined up next to me. I don't know what their coach had in mine. I wasn't trying to hurt him. I was just trying to send a message."

Scott and the Sabres were surprised Leafs coach Randy Carlyle -- who had the last line change -- opted for a scoring line in that situation rather than tough guy Troy Bodie. Did Scott break hockey's unwritten code that an enforcer shouldn't engage a star?

"Hey, I'd be pissed off if someone went after my star guy too," Scott said. "It's one of those things. Their coach didn't have to put Kessel out with me.

Scott said his legs are surprised from the stick swings Kessel took against him and that he was surprised by the reaction from the Leafs star.

Continue reading "(Audio now included) Scott on the Throwdown in TO: 'I would have went after whoever they put lined up next to me'" »

Day-after thoughts on the crazy tussle in Toronto


By Mike Harrington

The Sabres don't practice until 11:45 today. So that means it's going to be early this afternoon before we get any injury updates or hear from any of them with any second-day thoughts on last night's third-period festivities in Toronto that are the talk of the hockey world today.

Be sure to see John Vogl's post from last night with the complete penalty list. I'm told it was updated multiple times all the way to around 1 a.m.

Sportsnet's Chris Johnston points out that David Clarkson's likely 10-game suspension for charging off the bench is going to hurt the Leafs on the ice -- and put them in a big salary cap pickle as well. Suspended players still count against the cap, with Clarkson and Phil Kessel likely both doing some time.

Damien Cox of the Toronto Star blames Ron Rolston for the whole thing. I was not there and a key point I missed that Cox missed also was that Rolston did not send John Scott on to the ice for a pound of flesh. Scott was already out there for the fight between Corey Tropp and Jamie Devane. 

Greg Wyshynski of Yahoo! has a good Q&A here about the particulars of the punch-up.

From watching the video, here are my quick thoughts:

John Scott: He was going to extract his pound of flesh. Bad optics doing it against a top Leafs guy however. Still, it's not unlike Adam Mair and Andrew Peters going after Jason Spezza and the boys from Ottawa in that infamous dustup in 2007 after Chris Drury had been KO'd. People in Toronto want Scott suspended but he did nothing to earn a ban. He instigated a fight, got penalized for it and that was that. You want to argue Scott can't play and doesn't belong in the league, that's a different argument. He should get nothing from Brendan Shanahan for this one.

Leafs coach Randy Carlyle: He was one of the biggest dopes in all of this. He had the last change. After seeing Tropp in distress being taken off the ice and seeing Scott remain on, he sends out his scorers thinking it would diffuse things? How does he line up Phil Kessel -- Phil Kessel! -- next to John Scott? 

Kessel: What was he thinking? He obviously wasn't. You're not a fighter and you have a 6-8, 270-pound guy coming at you, just back away. No one will think less of you. Use your stick like Paul Bunyan and you get a match penalty and perhaps a 2-3 game suspension. And it wasn't one love-tap either. It was three. Plus a spear later on in the melee.

This GIF is making the rounds today. Pretty funny. Stick as lightsaber.

Kessel-lightsaber

Ron Rolston: No issues. The Sabres can't be happy about seeing what happened with Tropp. He has to like the way his players were all in. Even Ryan Miller. 

David Clarkson: Here's the biggest dope. He didn't need to come off the bench. The Leafs on the ice had Scott contained. So now the biggest contract in franchise history starts with 10 games on the sidelines? That's crazy. And as Johnston wrote (link above), what do they do about money now in terms of Cody Franson or Mason Raymond? A veteran player should have known better.

Miller rejoins Sabres after emotional induction at Michigan State

By John Vogl

Ryan Miller is still playing hockey, so he found it a little surreal that Michigan State was ready to induct him into its Athletic Hall of Fame. After arriving on campus this week and recognizing it had been about a dozen years since he'd hung out at the East Lansing college, he realized the magnitude of the honor.

"It was a pretty amazing experience," the Sabres goaltender said today. "Michigan State has meant a lot to our family. My grandfather came down in the 1950s to go to school there, and every decade after that a member of our family has been there going to school.

"To be inducted into the Hall of Fame after growing up going to football games, hockey games, wearing green and white, learning the fight song before I could speak properly probably, when I was able to get up and say a few words I was actually a lot more emotional than I thought I was going to be."

Miller, his cousin Kip and former Bills coach Hank Bullough were among the five Spartans honored Thursday night. The goalie missed practiced Friday but returned to the ice today.

"It was just another part of my life where I’m just kind of like, Wow, that’s really cool that that got to happen," Miller said. "I’m just trying to be thankful and appreciate it."

Sabres' Miller inducted into Michigan State Hall of Fame; Hank Bullough, too

By John Vogl

Ryan Miller made a quick departure from Buffalo after his first practice of training camp. The goaltender had a memorable reason.

Michigan State has inducted its highly decorated alumnus into its athletic Hall of Fame. The ceremony was Thursday night in East Lansing, Mich.

"Great to be back on campus at MSU," Miller wrote on his Twitter account. "Very honored to be inducted into the athletic hall of fame along with my cousin Kip. #GoGreen"

Miller won the Hobey Baker with the Spartans in 2001 and was a two-time All-American. Along with Kip, who also played hockey, Miller was joined in the Hall by former Buffalo Bills coach Henry "Hank" Bullough, Morris Peterson (basketball) and Jenna Wrobel (volleyball).

Miller is not taking part in the Sabres' practices today. They began at 7:50 a.m. Team owner Terry Pegula is in attendance, so there is likely a team function later, hence the early start time.

Here is the Michigan State news release on the class and its feature on Miller.

Regier hopes to re-sign Hodgson soon, says trade window closed at moment with Miller, Vanek

By John Vogl

It sounds like Ryan Miller and Thomas Vanek could remain with the Sabres for a while. General Manager Darcy Regier hopes Cody Hodgson sticks around, too.

Buffalo's veterans gathered for physicals today and will begin skating Thursday, and Regier hopes Hodgson will be on the ice in First Niagara Center. The team has yet to work out a contract with the restricted free agent, who was second on the team in scoring last season.

"We continue to work on his contract," Regier said today. "I’ve had conversations with his agent on a couple of occasions this morning. I spoke briefly with Cody. Both sides are working hard on this.

Continue reading "Regier hopes to re-sign Hodgson soon, says trade window closed at moment with Miller, Vanek" »

Audio: Ryan Miller returns to Sabres, glad to be back in Buffalo

By John Vogl

Ryan Miller said a proper goodbye to Buffalo at the end of last season, waving to Sabres fans after the final game and preparing for a possible move in his hockey career.

The move never came. The goaltender is back in Buffalo, and he has no complaints.

"It’s good to be back and absolutely ready to go," Miller said in First Niagara Center as the Sabres gathered for physicals. "I have a great connection with the city, and I’ve enjoyed my time here. I’m just looking forward to getting started and do it all over again."

Miller said today he has a lot to prove this year, as he does every year, and he feels he's in a good place both on the ice and off it. He wants to compete at a high enough level to get the Sabres into the playoffs and make the U.S. Olympic team.

The 33-year-old, who is entering the final year of his contract, said he's prepared to be professional about the trade speculation that will accompany him throughout the season. He said there have been no recent talks about an extension, but he hasn't closed the door on the option.

Miller also explained his decision to sell his Buffalo home at the end of last season. Though it looked like another sign he wanted out of town, he says he had long planned to sell the townhouse before the final year of his contract so he didn't get lowballed and get stuck with the home. He's renting now.

The complete audio of his interview is below.

Regier expects Miller, Vanek to remain with Sabres through draft weekend

By John Vogl

NEW YORK – Darcy Regier entered draft weekend ready to gauge the marketplace for Ryan Miller and Thomas Vanek. As of now, he expects to exit draft weekend with them as members of the Sabres.

“Right now, I do, yes,” Regier said this afternoon.

Miller’s agent, Mike Liut, concurs in regard to his client.

“I am not expecting anything to happen,” he said via email.

The trade market has had a number of names added to it this weekend, but Regier says that doesn’t mean transactions will occur.

“As you add names and the supply gets greater, I don’t know what that will do with the asking prices and whether teams will be able to get the asking price or whether there will be any kind of adjustment in the marketplace for players or for the acquisition of players,” Regier said. “It’s really still a bit of a moving target that hasn’t settled yet.”

Miller and Vanek are the top names on the Sabres’ shopping list because they are set to enter the final year of their contracts. Buffalo is not expected to contend for the Stanley Cup and there is no guarantee the players will re-sign, so Regier cannot let them exit the organization next summer without getting assets in return.

“I entered this weekend recognizing that they both are in the last year of their contracts, and I have a responsibility to see what that means both with those players and also within the marketplace,” Regier said. “Unless you’re a highly competitive team, it’s very difficult to have players on your roster whose contracts are going to expire if you either choose not to or don’t have the ability to re-up them.

“Just to lose those assets, you try to get a sense of what the marketplace is like, and that’s a process that’s ongoing. I expect it will continue to move through the draft into maybe free agency and maybe beyond that. We’re actively keeping our finger on the pulse of what’s going on in the league, and we’ll have to just make our decision.”

The lack of trade activity extends to the draft, which will be held Sunday in New Jersey. The Sabres are set to pick eighth and 16th overall.

“Right now I expect that we will pick where we’re picking, and I say that only because there’s nothing that’s imminent or concrete,” Regier said. “But like I said, there are a lot of conversations, and they will continue right until the draft starts and even beyond that.”

Vanek if it's a long rebuild: 'It probably makes sense for both parties to move on'

By Mike Harrington

The Sabres were back at First Niagara Center today to clean out their lockers, have exit physicals and meetings with staff that included General Manager Darcy Regier. As could be expected after another non-playoff season, the mood was a somber one. The Sabres have missed the playoffs two years in a row, four seasons out of six and seven years out of 11.

Said winger Drew Stafford of this year's miss: "There's just no excuse for that."

While reporters have heard a lot from Ryan Miller this week about his potential exit from Buffalo and his 500th game -- and Miller spoke again today for more than 11 minutes -- the star attraction today was winger Thomas Vanek. And like Miller, Vanek admitted he thought plenty that Friday's shootout win over the Islanders was his last game as a Sabre.

"Let's be honest," Vanek said. "I'm not stupid. I know I have a year left and they can probably deal me for prospects, young guys, whatever else is out there. Yeah, I've thought about it. If it looks like it's a long rebuild, then it probably makes sense for both parties to move on."

Vanek wants a quick, trade-based rebuild as opposed to a build through the draft. But the latter scenario appears more likely.

"I don't know what the plan is," Vanek said. "If they're turning it over to the younger guys, it's a turnover. Or are they going to build around us again? It's all speculation at this point because you guys don't know and I don't know what's going to happen."

Miller broke no new ground today over what he's said in the last couple of days. 

"I’m convinced more and more as I play longer and longer it’s more about the attitude and the kind of team you build," Miller said. "It’s not always about a bunch of skill pieces. You have to define the way you play. And we can find a way to play here, if we can define it and do it every night, we’ll have just as good a chance as anybody."

That said, Miller knows he may not be part of any new plan about how the Sabres may play.

"Around this stage of a contract, you have to be realistic," Miller said. "In the last year of your deal, if you’re not part of the plan, you become an asset that’s tradable. So I’m just trying to stay open to coming back and trying to stay excited about playing hockey games in the NHL if it’s not going to work out."

One player that was not in the building today was winger Ville Leino, who suffered from a collapsed lung late in the season and has not spoken about that injury -- or about his status as a potential candidate for an amnesty buyout under the new CBA.

Regier will undoubtedly be asked about Leino Monday afternoon, when the GM and team president Ted Black will hold an end-of-season meeting with the media. The Sabres declined to have such a meeting last season and were openly laughed at for that decision when the Professional Hockey Writers Association met at the draft last June in Pittsburgh. Owner Terry Pegula is not expected to attend.

Click below to hear audio today from Vanek, Miller and Tyler Myers and stayed tuned to the Sabres Edge for video from today's proceedings.

Thomas Vanek

Ryan Miller

Tyler Myers

Ryan Miller's Buffalo townhouse goes up for sale

By John Vogl

Ryan Miller said today his future with the Sabres is undecided. He's apparently decided he can unload his Buffalo home, though.

Miller's townhouse in the city has been listed for sale at Realtor.com. Miller purchased the residence in 2006 for $348,500, according to Buffalo News real estate transactions. It was listed today with an asking price of $659,900.

Continue reading "Ryan Miller's Buffalo townhouse goes up for sale" »

Mike Liut - Ryan Miller's agent - weighs in on his client joining him in 500-game club

By John Vogl

Only 28 goaltenders have played more NHL games than Mike Liut. The former standout for the St. Louis Blues and Hartford Whalers skated to the crease in 664 games, and he is one of only 61 goalies to top 500.

The group will grow to 62 on Friday when Ryan Miller reaches the milestone for Buffalo.

Liut, who is Miller's agent, is of course happy for his client.

Continue reading "Mike Liut - Ryan Miller's agent - weighs in on his client joining him in 500-game club" »

Sabres' Miller eager to enjoy his 500th game while knowing it won't be his last

By John Vogl

Ryan Miller is eager to make his 500th appearance in a Buffalo Sabres uniform Friday. It's a milestone he's thrilled to reach.

But, he says, it's not a finale.

"There’ll be more hockey games," Miller said today after practice in First Niagara Center. "It’s been a lot of fun, and it’s nice to just be able to talk about it right now. I think I’ve got a lot more hockey in me, so [it's nice] being able to just kind of reflect and enjoy a moment, but it’s going to be another hockey game and I have to prepare and compete. I’m just trying to enjoy that part of it. That’s what I like to do. That’s what I know to do."

Miller will become the 62nd goaltender to play 500 and just the 20th to do it with the same team.

Though Miller will certainly play again, there are questions as to where. He has only one year left on his contract, and the Sabres are rebuilding.

"There’s been a lot of ‘could be last game as a Sabre’ the last few years," Miller said. "I’m just trying to enjoy the moment. It’s going to be my 500th game. I’m going to approach it the same way I’ve approached the other 499: Just put your pads on and try to do your best. See where it kind of goes, go out and have fun, try and make the saves and see where it all shakes out."

Miller's previous start in Buffalo was rocky, with the goaltender getting pulled after allowing four goals in 22 minutes. The fans jeered him, and he gave them a wave during play.

"I’m not mad at the fans," he said. "It’s heat of the moment. You get emotional.

"Some people were giving me some grief, and I just picked my hand up like, ‘OK, I hear ya.’ It wasn’t a screw you. It wasn’t a, ‘I hate you guys.’ It was, ‘You know, I hear ya. Enough. I get it. Just let me try and do what I’ve got to do.’

"I’ve done more than my fair share to go out and prove that I’m part of this community and give back as much as I can. We don’t even talk about all the stuff I try and do to make this feel more like my second home. That’s where I’m going to leave it. I care about the people here. If they’re frustrated with the way we’re playing, I can acknowledge it and we can move on."

The Sabres will again be without Ville Leino when they host the Islanders in the season finale.

"He had some issues with his lung, yes, that he’s dealing with," interim coach Ron Rolston said. "He’s actually a lot better. He’s doing well right now. Obviously, it’s a serious injury, but it wasn’t anything that was major."

Ryan Miller

Miller in line to reach rare goaltending milestone with 500th game, all with Sabres

By John Vogl

Ryan Miller wants to start the Sabres' season finale Friday. If he does -- and there's no reason to think he won't -- the goaltender will play in his 500th career game, all with the Sabres.

Here are a few charts that show how rare the milestone is:

Continue reading "Miller in line to reach rare goaltending milestone with 500th game, all with Sabres" »

Poll: Is it time for Sabres fans and Ryan Miller to part ways?

By John Vogl

Buffalo's disgruntled fan base has kept Ryan Miller and the Sabres on a short leash this season. After Friday night's debacle, it's time to wonder if that leash has become a noose for the team's longtime goaltender.

Miller has received a lot of abuse during his decade in Buffalo, especially during the past few years as the Sabres tumbled from the rank of contender. The fans were all over him during an embarrassing 8-4 loss to the New York Rangers.

“They just want to see the team win,” Miller said (audio is here), “and we haven’t done it. We haven’t lived up to any kind of expectation. It’s been years and years of not getting it done.

“You don’t win over Buffalo fans by losing hockey games and putting up mediocre seasons. The last three years have been pretty much that.”

Continue reading "Poll: Is it time for Sabres fans and Ryan Miller to part ways?" »

Postgame audio: A disconcerting end to playoff hopes

By Mike Harrington

OK, so if you saw Ron Rolston's postgame presser on MSG, you'll understand the headline above. Sorry, couldn't resist.

The Sabres' interim coach showed plenty of fire with me following Friday night's 8-4 loss to the Rangers that ended Buffalo's slim playoff hopes. Fair enough. Would have been nice if his team had a little more on many nights since he's taken over, but I digress.

It was certainly an interesting postgame session with Rolston's anger and Ryan Miller's emotional but calculated words. Miller and Sabres fans seem to be a relationship headed for divorce with just about no repair possible.

What an ugly night. Click the files below to hear some of the post-mortems.

Ron Rolston

Ryan Miller

Thomas Vanek

Adam Pardy

Postgame audio: A disconcerting end to playoff hopes

By Mike Harrington

OK, so if you saw Ron Rolston's postgame presser on MSG, you'll understand the headline above. Sorry, couldn't resist.

The Sabres' interim coach showed plenty of fire with me following Friday night's 8-4 loss to the Rangers that ended Buffalo's slim playoff hopes. Fair enough. Would have been nice if his team had a little more on many nights since he's taken over, but I digress.

It was certainly an interesting postgame session with Rolston's anger and Ryan Miller's emotional but calculated words. Miller and Sabres fans seem to be a relationship headed for divorce with just about no repair possible.

What an ugly night. Click the files below to hear some of the post-mortems.

Ron Rolston

Ryan Miller

Thomas Vanek

Adam Pardy

A look at the sights and sounds of Sabres-Bruins in Boston

By John Vogl

The Sabres will return to practice today, and their focus will be on Friday's season-altering matchup with the New York Rangers, the team they're chasing for the playoffs. Before that, it's worth reliving some of the Sabres' emotional visit to Boston on Wednesday for the first sporting event in the town since Monday's marathon bombing.

Fans and players chose to embrace the sporting diversion rather than worry about another act of terror.

“You can’t live in fear,” said 27-year-old Jason Baylor of Arcade, who traveled to Boston. “I don’t worry about the bombing. I go about my everyday life like I normally would.”

Continue reading "A look at the sights and sounds of Sabres-Bruins in Boston" »

Enroth giving Sabres good dilemma in goal

By Mike Harrington

The Sabres are off today and will return to practice Tuesday morning before heading to Boston for Wednesday night's game against the Bruins. 

Interim coach Ron Rolston has a very interesting decision on his hands when it comes to his goaltending. Jhonas Enroth pitched a shutout Saturday against the Flyers and came back Sunday to backstop the 3-1 win over Tampa Bay.

Enroth is red-hot right now -- 4-0-1 in his last five starts with a 1.37 goals-against average and .958 save percentage. The Sabres basically have to win their last five games to have any shot of the playoffs, so how do you take him out now?

Continue reading "Enroth giving Sabres good dilemma in goal" »

Miller says Sabres misused Pominville on power play, backing former captain's earlier statements

Jason Pominville's numbers dipped this season before the Sabres traded him Wednesday. During a recent conversation with The News, the former captain said playing on the blue line on the power play was a big reason why.

Buffalo goaltender Ryan Miller agrees.

"In my mind, he’s playing power play on the point, where he’s not even the most effective with his shot," Miller said today while discussing the trade of his longtime friend and teammate. "They have him there because he’s responsible, and he’s a guy who can make passes, make plays. He’s not always going to be the guy getting the goal, not always going to be the guy getting the trigger. He was on the power play to make sure everything’s going to be smooth in that area of the ice.

Continue reading "Miller says Sabres misused Pominville on power play, backing former captain's earlier statements" »

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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 | jvogl@buffnews.com

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 | mharrington@buffnews.com


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 | amoritz@buffnews.com

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