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Debut of the 'Turd Burger' comes Sunday against Detroit

Ottjersey
The Steve Ott Twitter capture in September unveiled the Sabres' universally panned third jersey. (Sabres.com)

 By Mike Harrington

PHILADELPHIA -- Look out, fashion police and traditionalists: The Sabres' third jersey, a gold blob unveiled to howls of derision in early September, is going to make its way to the ice for 10 home games, the team announced today. As was previously believed, the debut will be Sunday against the Detroit Red Wings and the second game will be Wednesday when Montreal comes to town.

Sabres president Ted Black initially declined comment when first asked about the reaction. It got so big and spread so far that Black finally did address it last month it in his weekly appearance on WGR Radio the morning after the season opener.

And he did it by unleashing another one of those one-word sayings (think "suffering") that the Sabres have become so famous for.

"Judge for yourself whenever you see it. If you come into the store and you look at it and say I don’t want to buy it or you do buy it ... If it doesn’t sell, it won’t really mean anything to our bottom line. It’s a third jersey. If it’s a turd burger I’ll have to put it on a bun and eat it. It’s the way it is.”

Ahem. Fair enough. The full schedule for the tur, um, third jersey:

Nov. 24 Detroit
Nov. 27 Montreal
Dec. 5 NY Rangers
Dec. 14 Calgary
Jan. 4 New Jersey
Jan. 14 Philadelphia
Feb. 5 Pittsburgh
Mar. 16 Montreal
Apr 1 New Jersey
Apr 8 Detroit

After practice: Nolan speaks (again) and so do the players

By Mike Harrington

Today's clean sweep of Darcy Regier and Ron Rolston didn't come in the spring. It came in the middle of the season, two days before a home-and-home series against the Toronto Maple Leafs, of all teams. So Ted Nolan went from the dais with Terry Pegula, Ted Black and Pat LaFontaine into a pair of blue and gold sweats and on to the ice for his first practice as Sabres coach since May, 1997.

Continue reading "After practice: Nolan speaks (again) and so do the players" »

Fans to get wanded as part of new NHL security measures at FNC

By Mike Harrington

The Sabres have sent around an e-mail about new security measures for all events at First Niagara Center and here's my advice: Don't get to the door at 7 p.m. for a 7:05 start and expect to be in your seat.

The team announced today that beginning with Tuesday's game against Los Angeles all fans entering the arena will be subject to a handheld magnetometer (wand) screening upon entry. 

The wanding has been used on a limited and random basis since last season as part of gradual security enhancements. It is now being expanded to include all fans to comply with league-wide policies for all teams in the NHL. Teams and leagues often don't say, but it's a clear reaction to the bombings at the Boston Marathon in April.

This can be a hit or miss proposition for fans at sports facilities. Ask Bills fans what they think of it. Ask Pittsburgh Pirates fans about the disaster that took place when wanding was instituted at PNC Park over the summer. Not enough gates, not enough wanders. Especially on a night with a huge walkup crowd.

The Sabres figure to have a much better setup because they have a huge entry pavilion and multiple gates in it. But if wanding goes slowly and long lines of people are snaked outside in the winter, that will be something else entirely. Bears watching.

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5 p.m. update: The Sabres will wear camouflage jerseys during pregame warm-ups prior to Tuesday's game. The jerseys will then be put up for auction on the NHL.com auction site immediately following the game at 10 p.m.  All proceeds from the auction, which runs through Nov. 20 at 9 p.m., will benefit the Sabres Foundation.

The Rolston shuffle is on at practice

By Mike Harrington

Sabres coach Ron Rolston sat his top line for nearly 27 minutes in Friday's 6-2 loss at Anaheim so it's no surprise he's tossed up his lines quite a bit for today's practice in First Niagara Center.

Tyler Ennis is off the top line with Matt Moulson and Cody Hodgson and replaced by captain Steve Ott. Ennis is now back at center between Ville Leino, who landed on the scratch heap in California, and Drew Stafford. 

In addition, injured defensemen Mike Weber and Christian Ehrhoff are both skating. We have to wait until after practice for an update on their status.

The lines:
Moulson-Hodgson-Ott
Leino-Ennis-Stafford
Girgensons-Foligno-Flynn
Grigorenko-McCormick-Tropp

The D pairs:
Ehrhoff-Pysyk
Tallinder-Myers
Zadorov-McBain
Weber-Ristolainen 

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First big wave of cuts gets roster down to 41

By Mike Harrington

The Sabres trimmed training camp down to two groups Friday afternoon and started to set up a core of players for the Rochester Americans.

Sent down to the AHL club were forwards Colin Jacobs, Eric Locke, Johnny McGuire, Jonathan Parker, Frederick Roy, Kevin Sundher and Shawn Szydlowski; defensemen Alex Lepkowski and Matt MacKenzie; and goalies Connor Knapp and Nathan Lieuwen. Defenseman Nick Crawford was also sent down, but must first clear waivers.

Defenseman Brady Austin was returned to Belleville of the OHL and forward Peter Trainor was sent back to Rimouski in the Quebec League.

The Sabres are now down to 41 players (25 forwards, 13 defensemen and 3 goalies). Practice in Rochester will start Monday at 10 a.m. in Blue Cross Arena and is open to the public.

Sabres announce 97 percent renewal of season tickets, boost cap to 16,000

By Mike Harrington

Couched in a triumphant e-mail sent out by the team this morning is the fact the Buffalo Sabres have had a small drop in season ticket renewals for the 2013-14 season.

But the team still has plenty of right to thump its chest on this topic in the face of its struggles on the ice. The Sabres' rate of keeping customers or bringing a few new ones on continues to be remarkable, even with the 4 percent price hike that was clumsily unveiled on the afternoon of Fan Appreciation Night.

The glossy numbers are these:

---The Sabres announced today that 97 percent of their season subscribers have renewed their seats, which is a small drop from the 99 percent that stood pat heading into the 2013 lockout-shortened season.

---The team has increased the cap of season ticket-holders from 15,400 to 16,000, which means it will have less work to do to get to the 19,070 capacity each night in First Niagara Center. This is the third straight year the cap has been increased. 

---The new 600 season seats came from members of the Blue & Gold club waiting list, which now has more than 2,500 names.

"We again wanted to continue to try and reach the demand that exists for Sabres season tickets," team president Ted Black said in a statement. "There have been thousands of very loyal and very patient fans in our Blue & Gold Club that have been waiting for years to be eligible to purchase season tickets. We wanted to reward that loyalty by continuing to transition people from that waiting list to our ever-growing base of season-ticket holders. Our fans remain among the most dedicated in the league and we continue to be appreciative of their support."

The Sabres also announced Mini-Packs will go on sale Sept. 5, allowing fans to purchase from 5-40 games at up to 10 percent off box office prices.  Existing Mini-Pack holders can renew their package starting on Aug. 28. Mini-Pack holders pay no ticket service charges and have the ability to purchase playoff tickets before the public (based on availability).

The Sabres are still taking enrollments for the Blue & Gold club at Sabres.com. In addition to getting on the waiting list, club members can purchase tickets (including playoff games) before the public and get 10 percent off at The Sabres Store.

NHL schedule release continues to hang on Olympic decision; Florida leak shows 20-day break

By Mike Harrington

If you're looking to mark your calendars for that visit by Patrick Kane and the Chicago Blackhawks or perhaps the return of Lindy Ruff with Dallas or Jason Pominville with Minnesota, you're going to have to wait at least another day.

The NHL's 2013-14 schedule, widely expected to be released late Wednesday afternoon, is not coming out even though all the teams have what is likely a final draft. The league cannot release the schedule until it wraps up a deal with the International Ice Hockey Federation to allow its players to compete in the Sochi Olympics.

The Olympics, of course, require a multi-week break in the schedule. Teams currently have two versions of the NHL slate, one with the Olympic break and one without it. Until the deal is signed, no schedule for the league can be released.

Continue reading "NHL schedule release continues to hang on Olympic decision; Florida leak shows 20-day break" »

Draft spot set heading into lottery

By Mike Harrington

Saturday night's games gave the Sabres a better handle on their status for the June 30 draft. Philadelphia's win at Ottawa dropped Buffalo to 12th in the East and 23rd overall in the NHL, so that means the Sabres will likely pick eighth.

The order could change if a) Buffalo takes advantage of its 3.6 percent chance at winning the top pick in Monday's draft lottery to leapfrog to No. 1; or b) slips to ninth if one of the teams below it on the draft list beats even worse odds to claim No. 1. 

The Sabres also own Minnesota's No. 1 pick in the Jason Pominville trade but the Wild will not be in the draft lottery, as they are going to the playoffs after Saturday's 3-1 win at Colorado that eliminated feisty Columbus. The BlueJackets scored three goals in the third period to beat Nashville, 3-1, but finished ninth in the West.

Minnesota's pick will likely be around No. 15-16 but the order of playoff teams isn't finalized until the playoffs are complete.

Florida, with the worst record in the NHL, has a 25 percent chance of winning the lottery. No. 2 Colorado is at 18.8 percent, followed by Tampa Bay (14.2) and Nashville (10.7). No one else is over a 10 percent chance.

Numbers games: Playing to the opponent

By Mike Harrington

I suppose we shouldn't be surprised about the Sabres' 4-2 win Tuesday night in Pittsburgh. That's two wins over the East-leading Penguins at Consol Energy Center and a loss against them in Buffalo in a game the Sabres were leading well into the third period.

What gives when the Sabres play good teams? In the last couple weeks, interim coach Ron Rolston and several players were as baffled by this thought when I asked them as I am.

Steve Ott told me there's much more fear of embarrassment when you play a good team and your level of play rises. Makes sense. More attention to detail, fewer mistakes.

The results are evident. Check out the numbers. They're just plain goofy.

Continue reading "Numbers games: Playing to the opponent" »

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Spin around the Web: World reacts to Sabres-Bruins game

Rene
Accompanied by the Boston Fire Departrment Honor Guard, Rene Rancourt kicks off the emotional national anthem. (Getty Images)


By Mike Harrington

 

If you haven't already done so, be sure to check John Vogl's post from earlier this morning with links to his reports from last night's game in Boston and videos of all the emotional moments surrounding the Sabres' shootout win.

Taking a quick spin around the Web today, I found several other stories that are good reads.

---In the Boston Globe, Buffalo booster and Wegmans lover Kevin Paul Dupont (whose wife is a WNYer) penned a terrific lead column on the scene. Wrote Dupont. "It was a night to remember, a hope to hold dear, only some 48 hours after the afternoon we all wish could be chased from memory."

---Anthem singer Rene Rancourt, a legend at the old and new Garden for 35 years, said in an interview this morning on WEEI Radio in Boston, that the anthem will rate as the most memorable one of his career. Bruins officials suggested the crowd-led anthem in part because Rancourt said he was concerned he wouldn't be able to sing the song all the way due to his emotions. But he was wondering if the crowd would sing for him. No issues. 

"It was wonderful," Rancourt said. "The sound was carrying me, lifting me up in the room. It was just something indescribable."

Continue reading "Spin around the Web: World reacts to Sabres-Bruins game" »

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NHL postpones Bruins-Sens game in wake of Marathon explosion; Sabres scheduled to leave for Boston tomorrow, play on Wednesday

By Mike Harrington

In the wake of the explosions at the finish line of the Boston Marathon course, the NHL has announced the postponement of tonight's game between the Ottawa Senators and Boston Bruins at TD Garden. There is no word on a makeup date for the game.

"The National Hockey League wishes to express its sympathy to all affected by the tragic events that took place in Boston earlier this afternoon," the league said in its official release.

The Sabres are scheduled to leave for Boston on a 3 p.m. flight Tuesday afternoon and are slated to play the Bruins Wednesday night at 7:30  The Sabres are scheduled to stay at their normal Boston hotel, the Ritz-Carlton by the Boston Common. It is about 1 3/4 miles from the explosion site on Boylston Street.

Continue reading "NHL postpones Bruins-Sens game in wake of Marathon explosion; Sabres scheduled to leave for Boston tomorrow, play on Wednesday" »

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Myers, Pysyk beneficiaries of Leopold trade

By Jay Skurski

With Jordan Leopold sent to St. Louis on Saturday, the Buffalo Sabres have to replace more than 21 minutes of ice time.

In their first game without the veteran defenseman, the beneficiaries were Tyler Myers and rookie Mark Pysyk.

Myers skated a game-high 28 minutes, 13 seconds in the shootout loss, while Pysyk was on the ice for 13:52 – a game after being a healthy scratch in Florida.

"It felt good," Myers said of the extended work. "It's whatever the coaches are going to decide how to play us. I think all the 'D' has been doing a really good job of adjusting to what has been given to them."

Myers didn't learn of Leopold's trade until arriving at First Niagara Center for the game.

Continue reading "Myers, Pysyk beneficiaries of Leopold trade" »

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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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