Skip to primary navigation Skip to main content

Around the rink: No white smoke at FNC, more thoughts on Torts' postgame rant

By Mike Harrington

No white smoke over First Niagara Center this afternoon so the Sabres remain quiet on the trade front while taking today off from practice (seriously now, how could I resist that one?). Here's what's going through my head today in the wake of last night's 3-1 win over the Rangers:

---Today's must-read is Bucky Gleason's column on the Sabres' thoughts moving forward. What do you do with Ryan Miller, Thomas Vanek and Jason Pominville as they head into the final years of their deals? Do you trade them now? 

“Do we become a younger team or do we become a team that’s going to build and try to get this core group of guys a chance to move forward?" Miller said. "Or are we not the core anymore? Who knows? They’re not decisions we make. We react off management and circumstance.”

Hmmm. Interesting. I'll be writing more on this topic in tomorrow's sports section.

Continue reading "Around the rink: No white smoke at FNC, more thoughts on Torts' postgame rant" »

Vote for your three stars

Vote for the three stars

Vote for your three stars

Vote for your three stars

For openers from the locker room: Victory chatter

By Mike Harrington

Thomas Vanek's five-point game in Sunday's 5-2 win over the Philadelphia Flyers was the first of his career -- and the first by any Sabre since Drew Stafford had five (including three goals) in a 10-1 win over Atlanta on Jan. 18, 2008.

(4:45 p.m. update: According to the Sabres and the Elias Sports Bureau, Vanek is first NHL player to record five points in a season opener since Phoenix's Steven Reinprecht on Oct 5, 2006.)

Vanek was a big talking point in the locker room, as were Cody Hodgson, Steve Ott and Drew Stafford. 

Click any of the files below to go around the room. 


Thomas Vanek


Cody Hodgson


Drew Stafford


Jason Pominville


Mikhail Grigorenko


Ryan Miller


Coach Lindy Ruff

Click any of the links below to download the audio files:

Vanek

Hodgson

Stafford

Pominville

Grigorenko

Miller 

Ruff

It's (finally) Hockey Day in Buffalo and here's today's game plan

By Mike Harrington

Greetings and welcome to Sabres season! Bet many of you never thought we'd say that this year.

But lo and behold, here we are at First Niagara Center getting ready for today's opener against the Philadelphia Flyers.

I'll be joined here today by John Vogl, Bucky Gleason and photographer Harry Scull. Here's a look at our coverage plans for the Sabres-Flyers game, which will air on Ch. 2 and WGR Radio with a 12:30 faceoff:

---I'll be on the WGR Radio roundtable from 11-11:40, discussing the season with Brian Koziol, Paul Hamilton and Brian Duff. Hamilton is doing the radio play-by-play today for the ill Rick Jeanneret. 

---At noon, I'll host a special opening day chat on the Sabres Edge blog for 30 minutes.

The link to the pregame chat is right here.

---Then stick around for our in-game blog all afternoon and a special 15-minute "Sabres flashchat" we'll have during the second intermission. We'll have intermission flashchats from time to time throughout the season; make your questions good, as only the best will make it in that short timespan!

---After the game, be sure to look for audio from the locker room and our postgame video wrap-up.

Today's Buffalo News includes our annual NHL preview section, featuring everything you need to know about the Sabres and presented through the auspices of award-winning Graphics Editor Vince Chiaramonte, sports page designer Andrea Zagata and cover artist Dan Zakroczemski.

In our cover story, Vogl talks about the Sabres' situation at center, where Tyler Ennis and Cody Hodgson are vastly inexperienced compared to most teams' No. 1-2 guys down the middle.

Vogl's team preview discusses a Sabres team that might have lost some offense but picked up some sandpaper edge that has been missing.

My main contribution looks at the question of whether a goalie -- Ryan Miller, perhaps? -- can steal a short season for his team. 

Follow this link for Vogl's four reasons for optimism and his four reasons for pessimism.

What do I think the Sabres have to do in a short season? Not stumble out of the gate at home.

Vogl talks to Pat LaFontaine to take a look back at the '94-95 Sabres, who finished 22-19-7 and were a first-round loser to the Flyers. 

Bucky Gleason says it's all on Lindy Ruff now. 

In our Mixed Media column, Greg Connors says NBC is ready to finally get this thing going. The network did a great job yesterday showing the Kings' banner-raising and then switching to Flyers-Penguins.

Outside of the preview section:

In announcing Darcy Regier's contract extension, owner Terry Pegula said Saturday "this looks like a good team." We'll see. 

Ville Leino's status for today's game is uncertain due to a leg injury.

Pegula extends Regier, says Sabres look like 'a good hockey team'

By Mike Harrington

After making the customary apology to fans virtually every NHL owner has made this week in the wake of the lockout, Sabres owner Terry Pegula dropped a surprise on reporters at the start of his 22-minute news conference today in the Lexus Club at First Niagara Center: He has agreed to a contract extension with General Manager Darcy Regier.

Regier, who took over the club in the summer of 1997, signed what's believed to be a two-year extension in the fall of 2010 and it's not completely clear how long this extension will run. The Sabres do not release contract terms but Regier's original deal was not expiring after this season anyway.

"Both sides are happy with the arrangement," Pegula said. "And we look forward to continuing to work with Darcy into the future. The timing of this decision was not today. We've been talking about this. We had this agreement for quite some time. I approached him. Darcy is a talented guy. ... We work very well together and we're looking forward to the future."

Said Regier: "I am very grateful and honored to be able to continue in this capacity working with this ownership."

In other notes from the press conference:

---Pegula on the lockout: "It's good to be back. I can tell you as an organization, the Sabres are very glad to be playing hockey again. We apologize to the whole hockey fan base, the media, our sponsors and our supporters for the hardship we may have put people through but sometimes things happen that you don't plan for in life."

---Pegula he talked often to NHL commissioner Gary Bettman during the lockout and said he felt it was necessary to help struggling small market teams. Pegula said he did not push for a quick resolution: "I'm a new owner so I'm not about to say, 'OK, here's what we're going to do, guys."

---Pegula said the Sabres' goal remains to win the Stanley Cup and he's been heartened by watching Boston and Los Angeles end droughts in the 40-year range by winning it the last two years.

---Regier said the team has already had organizational talks about the contracts of stars Ryan Miller, Jason Pominville and Thomas Vanek -- all of which expire after next season.

---Pegula on this year's club: "I think our team is a lot different than the team I inherited when I bought it. It's got a new imprint on it, a new mark. It looks like a good hockey team."

---Pegula used the term "totally inaccurate" when asked about numerous reports in Pennsylvania he paid $1.3 million to augment the salary of Penn State football coach Bill O'Brien and keep him in Happy Valley so he wouldn't jump to the NFL.

Full audio of the press conference is here


Terry Pegula/Darcy Regier/Ted Black

Click here to download

Why John Scott could be busy

By Jay Skurski

The life of the NHL enforcer is a migratory one.

That's part of the reason John Scott is a Buffalo Sabre. Teams around the Eastern Conference are bulking up. Consider the following roster moves:

    - The Islanders claimed 6-foot-8 defenseman Joe Finley off waivers from the Sabres.
    - Carolina acquired Kevin Westgarth from Los Angeles.
    - Florida traded for George Parros from Anaheim.
    - New Jersey signed Krys Barch away from Florida.
    - Montreal signed Brandon Prust away from the Rangers.

 That doesn't count the other enforcers such as Colton Orr with Toronto, Chris Neil with Ottawa and a trio of Bruins (Milan Lucic, Zdeno Chara and Shawn Thornton).

"It's good for me. More enforcers, the more chances I'll play," Scott said. "I think you see that from year to year, the shift from West to East, with the tough guys. I think last year all the tough guys were in the West, and the West did pretty well, so the Eastern Conference teams wanted to bulk up and be a little more physical. … It's good. I enjoy going up against the more physical guys. It’ll be a fun year."

The Sabres play Carolina home and home next week. To get you ready for what that might look like, watch this: 

  

You can read more about Scott and his role with the Sabres this season in this story from Friday's editions of The News.

Around the rink: New buyouts, Girgensons, Giroux

By Mike Harrington

Some items from the late afternoon:

---The NHL and NHLPA have made a quick side agreement to allow a team to have a compliance buyout right now, rather than in June. The impetus for the deal was Montreal telling Scott Gomez to stay home and make his $7.3 million rather than risk injury now, which would prevent a buyout come June. Same with Wade Redden, due $6.5 million from the Rangers.

Gomez and Redden of the Rangers will be bought out now, although the teams won't save on their cap until next season.  But it allows them to play this year. A team can use one of its two buyouts between now and Sunday -- although it will still keep the cap hit even if the player signs with another team. 

I wouldn't expect any other buyouts. More of a courtesy to two players really stuck. (So you can stop the Sabres' Ville Leino chatter -- he was on the top power-play unit at today's practice)

---The American Hockey League has announced that Syracuse winger Richard Panik has been given a three-game suspension for his hit Saturday night on Rochester's Zemgus Girgensons, the Sabres' second No. 1 pick last June. 

---The Flyers will name Claude Giroux their captain Thursday at an open practice in Wells Fargo Center. They have been without a captain since Chris Pronger went down in November, 2011. Pronger's career is apparently over due to concussions.

Giroux is expected to come to town here Sunday without Danny Briere, who is doing better from his hairline wrist fracture but is still expected to miss the weekend. The Flyers open Saturday against Pittsburgh before coming to Buffalo.

Kaleta signs multi-year deal with Sabres

Forward Patrick Kaleta signed a multi-year contract to remain with the Buffalo Sabres, the team announced today.

Kaleta, an Angola native, has spent his entire career with the Sabres and was a restricted free agent this summer. More information will be announced at a news conference Wednesday morning.

A bruiser known more for his aggressive play than his goal-scoring ability, Kaleta led the Sabres with 116 penalty minutes last year. He was also credited with the second-most hits on the team behind Robyn Regehr, though his 139 hits were only good for 92nd in the league.

The 10 points Kaleta had last year (5+5) marked his second-highest season output, while 63 games played was a new career-best, including years the Sabres made the playoffs. A bottom-six forward, he averaged 13 minutes and 9 seconds of ice time per game.

Kaleta had a cap hit of $907,500 the last two years, according to Cap Geek.

---Nick Veronica

Twitter: @NickVeronica

 

Grigorenko signs with Sabres

Buffalo Sabres first-round draft pick Mikhail Grigorenko said at development camp last week his only goal for this year was to make the NHL.

He took a step in the right direction Wednesday morning, signing a three-year, entry-level contract. 

[UPDATE: Grigorenko's deal has a cap hit of $1.775 million per year, which includes bonuses on a $925,000 NHL base salary, according to CapGeek.] 

The 6-foot-3 forward had 85 points in 59 games last year with the Quebec Remparts of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, putting him eighth in scoring in just his first year in the league.

Grigorenko, the 12th-overall draft pick who turned 18 in May, centered fellow first-round picks Joel Armia (16th overall, 2011) and Zemgus Girgensons (14th overall, 2012) on a line at camp last week. Girgensons signed a three-year contract last week. 

More details will be announced at a 2:30 p.m. news conference. 

 

---Nick Veronica

Twitter: @NickVeronica

 

Video: Sabres' Regier, Girgensons discussing signing

Son of Patrick Roy impressing at Sabres camp

Those who were glad to see Derek Roy shipped out of Buffalo needn’t worry about the name that’s been floating around ice at Sabres prospect camp this week.

Frederick Roy has no relation to the former Sabres center. His NHL bloodlines are even better.

Frederick is the son of Patrick Roy, the Hall-of-Famer who was the winningest goalie in NHL history when he retired in 2003 (551 wins), only to be passed by Martin Brodeur, who has 656 and counting.

“[The name] has followed me my whole life,” Frederick said after practice Tuesday at the First Niagara Center. “I’m proud of what my father did and accomplished in his career. For me, he’s a role model.

“He taught me there’s one way to play to game: the hard way. It’s 100 percent every time I step on that ice. I give my heart and soul to the team I’m playing with.”

Last season, that team was the Quebec Remparts of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL), coached by none other than Patrick Roy.

“We [manage that relationship] that really well.” Frederick said of playing for his dad. “We knew that when we got to the ice rink, it was business. I was just another player. At home, we’re really close and we’re really good friends and everything.”

Roy’s size -- he's listed for camp at 5-foot-10, 160 pounds -- may have been a contributing factor to why he wasn’t drafted, but his numbers are there. He scored 53 goals in the last two years with Quebec and put up 92 points in 64 games last season while on a line with Sabres’ first-round pick Mikhail Grigorenko, who couldn’t say enough about Roy.

“I was playing with him all year long, I think he was one of the best linemates in my life,” Grigorenko said. “With him, he makes you better. He’ll always support you and he works hard and he wins all his battles and he’s a really smart player and he always passes the puck. For me, I really enjoyed to play with him.”

Roy also knows development camp member Marcus Foligno. Foligno’s father (and former Sabre) Mike was an assistant coach with Colorado in the late ‘90s while Patrick Roy was on the team. Foligno said he and Frederick enjoyed horsing around in the locker room together as 8- and 9-year-olds.

Frederick originally tried to be a goalie like dad, but said he “didn’t have the patience for it.”

Roy is eager to prove teams wrong for passing over him. He cites improvements to his speed and overall strength as areas to improve on but thinks he has a shot to earn a minor-league contract out of camp.

“I play both ways of the ice,” Roy said. “I can score, I can pass. I’m more of a playmaker. I can play D-zone, I like to finish my checks. ... I just have to show the scouts and the coaches and everyone else.”

---Nick Veronica

Twitter: @NickVeronica

Five absent as Sabres open development camp

Five of last year's Buffalo Sabres who played a combined 145 games headlined the participants of team's development camp today at the First Niagara Center, which includes practice sessions Tuesday and Wednesday mornings before a Blue-Gold scrimmage Thursday night. 

Forwards Luke Adam, Marcus Foligno, Cody Hodgson and Corey Tropp and defenseman Brayden McNabb gave a veteran presence to a group of 39 professional, junior and college players the Sabres hope may one day contribute to the big club.

Sabres first-round draft picks Mikhail Grigorenko, Zemgus Girgensons, Joel Armia (2011) and Mark Pysyk (2010) are also in attendance.

The original list of camp participants included 40 names, but was reduced when Lake Superior State product Kyle Jean signed with the New York Rangers last week.

Of the 39 players listed as participating in the camp, 35 skated in practice. Defensemen Mark Adams and Brady Austin, along with forward Shawn Szydlowski, did not appear on the roster for practice groups. Forwards Christian Isackson and Jacob Lagace were listed on the practice sheet but did not appear on the ice.

Sabres officials said all five players are in Buffalo for camp. Though the players had an intense early-morning workout, the team said none of the absences were injury-related. 

A full list of participants can be found here.

...

Practice opens again tomorrow at 10 a.m. and runs until 12:30 p.m. Practice sessions are free and open to the public, while Thursday's scrimmage costs $10. Those interested in coming down to the arena should bring an extra layer -- fans in shorts and t-shirts learned the hard way Monday.

---Nick Veronica

Twitter: @NickVeronica

The time Derek Roy thought reporters got traded

By Tim Graham

When the Buffalo Sabres traded center Derek Roy on Monday, it reminded me of the time goaltender Martin Biron and I convinced Roy that I was on the verge of getting traded to Newsday.

I referenced the story in a tweet that generated a healthy response. People wanted to know the details. So, inspired by similar anecdotes I've been reading the past few days in Frank Deford's excellent autobiography "Over Time," here's just one of a thousand behind-the-scene stories I can tell from two decades hanging out in locker rooms.

A day or two before the NHL trade deadline in February 2007, I leaned against the wall in a nearly empty Sabres dressing room, waiting to interview a particular player. I don't recall who.

Biron and I were about five feet apart on opposite sides of the entryway. He was inspecting his leg pads at his locker stall. Roy sat at his locker way down the row to Biron's left. Jason Pominville was down the row of lockers to my right.

On the large, flat-screen television was a TSN show dissecting trade-deadline rumors.

Ever since Ryan Miller emerged as the franchise goalie, Biron's name frequently got bandied about as trade bait. He was anxious about getting dealt, and this time he would be -- to the Philadelphia Flyers. By this time, Biron and I had known each other for seven years and enjoyed many conversations never meant for the paper.

With my notepad in my back pocket and no recorder I asked Biron -- just two guys talking -- how he was holding up. He said something diplomatic, but he silently telegraphed, with a theatrical roll of the eyes, that he was stressing out. Then, in typical Biron fashion, he quickly tried to turn the situation into a joke.

"How are you hanging in there, Tim?" Biron asked. "Do you think you'll get traded this year?"

Those who know me are aware my sense of humor can be drier than powdered gin. So I deadpanned that my agent was hearing Newsday and the Boston Globe had called The Buffalo News about me and wanted to know what it would take to close a deal.

Biron, equally as sarcastic, started to express sympathy for my predicament. Roy hollered "Bulls---! Reporters don't get traded."

I gently informed Roy newspapers make trades all the time. "Yeah, that's true!" Biron chirped. I explained when NHL teams are about to make the playoffs, their local newspapers sometimes need to bolster coverage for the stretch run. Sometimes they have too many editors and need to acquire reporters. Or vice versa.

The New York Islanders, under Ted Nolan, had been one of hockey's most exciting stories that season and were gunning for a playoff berth. Newsday wanted go all-in. As for the Globe, I wasn't sure what its motive was because the Boston Bruins didn't look like a playoff team. Maybe the Globe needed to unload a contract or wanted me for depth.

Roy, about to turn 24 and in his fourth NHL season (counting the lockout), stared off in the distance and nodded his head, satisfied with this new bit of insight.

Unfortunately, the ruse wouldn't last long -- not nearly as long as the time I used a tape-delayed boxing match to persuade defenseman Alexei Zhitnik into thinking I was a legitimate psychic by predicting the exact round and method that massive underdog Corrie Sanders would whip Zhitnik's countryman and friend Wladimir Klitschko.

I shifted a glance to Pominville. I could tell he wasn't buying it, and he was about to say something.

Biron and I cracked. We told Roy we were just screwing with him.

Roy didn't think it was as funny as we did.

NHL draft preview chat with Vogl, guest Baker

NHL draft preview live chat at 11 a.m. Wednesday

Join The News' John Vogl and guest Kris Baker of SabresProspects.com to look ahead to this weekend's NHL draft.

Weigh in with your comments and questions at 11 a.m. Wednesday on the Sabres Edge blog.

On the Sabres Beat video chat with Gleason, Vogl and Harrington

The News' Bucky Gleason, John Vogl and Mike Harrington held a season-end video chat on the Sabres, as well as the team's decision to retain General Manager Darcy Regier and coach Lindy Ruff. Replay the chat in the console below the video.

Click on the links below to watch clips from the live video chat:

-News Sabres Writers on the decision by Sabres' management to forgo season-end news conference

-On the possibility of a lockout

-On the play of Alexander Sulzer

On Ruff's comments about Roy's play

 

Inside the NHL chat with Bucky Gleason at 9:30 a.m.

« Older Entries Newer Entries »
Advertisement
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]

Subscribe

Advertisement