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Turning over a new Leaf: All the coverage as a new era starts with a toppling of Toronto

By Mike Harrington

Quite a Friday night at First Niagara Center as the Sabres beat the Toronto Maple Leafs, 3-1, in a smashing debut of the Pat LaFontaine-Ted Nolan era. The teams will go at it again tonight at 7 in Air Canada Centre, with only a couple of Sabres expected to skate this morning. Nolan and players will be available in the 5 p.m. hour and we'll have updates then.

As for last night's game, I actually forgot this point: The Sabres are on their first two-game winning streak of the season! The purge of Darcy Regier and Ron Rolston, remember, came after a win, Tuesday's shootout escape over the Los Angeles Kings.

Continue reading "Turning over a new Leaf: All the coverage as a new era starts with a toppling of Toronto" »

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" »

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 

More from new Sabres assistant Sacco, a charter member of the Mighty Ducks

Sacco DucksBy Mike Harrington

Be sure to read my story on new Sabres assistant coach Joe Sacco in Thursday's paper. Had a nice chat on the phone with him Wednesday and he had a good laugh when I asked him what it was like to be an expansion team guy. Didn't have room to get it in the story but he had some interesting thoughts on it.

Sacco played on the 1993-94 Mighty Ducks of Anaheim, a first-year expansion team that tied an NHL record for wins by a first-year team with 33.

They wore cartoonish uniforms based on the movie (note the pic of Sacco above) and had a team of castoffs. For his part, Sacco was chosen from Toronto in the expansion draft.

"All the players came from different teams. You get to Anaheim and you're in a similar situation -- you're coming from a team that I guess at the end of the day really didn't want you," Sacco said. "Because we all had that same attitude and felt we had something to prove, we really came through as a unit and a team. We didn't have a superstar, any name players. We were a bunch of muckers and grinders, castaways from other teams.

"We had good leadership like Troy Loney, our captain. He won two Stanley Cups with Pittsburgh. We had a group that wanted to belong. We wanted to prove we could stay in the National Hockey League."

Sacco had a career-high 19 goals and 37 points and played all 84 games for the Mighty Ducks that year. It was the first of his five seasons in Anaheim. (Check out his career stats here)

"Young players have to have that similar mindset whether they've played half a year or one year that they have to belong," he said. "They're not there yet. I always say with young players that the real guys on real teams do it year after year after year. It's 10-12-13-14 years. What can make me stand out from the guy next to me? That's what I try to pass on as a coach and we had it on that team."

(Photo: Getty Images)

Nashville hires Housley as assistant coach, eliminating him from Sabres speculation

By John Vogl

Phil Housley was ready to make the jump to the NHL coaching ranks. It was just a matter of which team would hire him.

Nashville did today.

The Predators have hired the former Sabres defenseman and USA Hockey coach as an assistant for Barry Trotz.

Continue reading "Nashville hires Housley as assistant coach, eliminating him from Sabres speculation" »

Vote for the three stars

Full coverage of the Sabres' dismissal of Lindy Ruff is at The Buffalo News, from columns to photos to a look back

NY_BN
The front page of today's Buffalo News.

By John Vogl

Lindy Ruff spent 26 years with the Buffalo Sabres as a coach and player. The run came to an end Wednesday. The Buffalo News has it covered:

*Ruff came to First Niagara Center for practice, meeting some of his players and looking at video before heading to a news conference to honor high schoolers who will take the ice downtown next week. It was like any other day in Sabreland.

Ruff then worked his struggling team hard on the ice, a 90-minute practice that was one of the longest of the season. He met the media for 4 minutes, cutting off questions a little earlier than on most days this season. Then he headed out to his home in Clarence.

But General Manager Darcy Regier soon came over with some startling news.

*When it actually happened, Bucky Gleason writes, my first thought wasn't about the Sabres finally making a bold move that they owed their fan base. I wasn't thinking about who would replace him. Strangely enough, it was about how much I owed Lindy Ruff, knowing that I could never repay him.

*Regier arrived 20 minutes late to announce that he had fired Lindy Ruff as his head coach, Jerry Sullivan writes. It was fitting, because like so many of the general manager’s moves, this one was long overdue.

*Ruff dreamed of holding the Stanley Cup in his adopted town of Buffalo. He pictured himself skating around Memorial Auditorium with the chalice over his head. He envisioned himself clutching the Cup on the bench in First Niagara Center.

He held onto the dream for half of his life. Now he has to let it go.

*Here's a time line of Ruff's experiences in Buffalo, starting with his second-round selection in the 1979 draft.

*Ruff's career in pictures, as seen by Buffalo News photographers.

*Bucky, Mike Harrington and I have a video with our thoughts on the moves, and we have Regier's news conference, as well.

*Here is what the actual newspaper coverage looks like, from cover to cover.

*The Sabres play in Toronto today, and interim coach Ron Rolston will hold his first practice at 11:30 a.m. We will be in The True North all day, so stay with the Sabres Edge for all the latest.

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

Lindy unsure about being behind bench Tuesday

Lindy Ruff would like to get back on the bench Tuesday night against the New Jersey Devils but the Sabres' coach still has some limitiations so he could be slumming it again in the press box.

Ruff, who is probably weeks away from being on the ice at practice again, watched today's workout in First Niagara Center from the bench wearing a Sabres hoodie and he's feeling better. Assistant James Patrick continued to run the team.

"Even if I do go back tomorrow, I'm going to need help beacause there's situations there where I can't vocalize loud enough, especially with the crowd, and react quick enough to have people ready," Ruff said. "So if I do go back there, I'll have James sort of in the same role."

In addition to being able to yell when needed, Ruff still can't move quickly if a stray puck comes into the bench. He said four of them did during Saturday's game against Tampa Bay and assistant coach Teppo Numminen took a glancing blow from one.

"I'd like to laugh about it but I don't want to because I don't want to get hit at the same time," Ruff said. "If I hung out by the tunnel, there's a good chance I get hit. If I stay in the same spot I normally do, I won't. I don't think we can change too much."

Cody McCormick and Jochen Hecht missed practice, with McCormick still on the day-to-day list and Hecht still hoping to play this season after having a procedure done last week on his neck.

Click below to hear from Ruff on his status, the injuries, the work of Patrick Kaleta and more. And be sure to join me here for another On The Beat Chat today at 3.


Lindy Ruff

---Mike Harrington
(www.twitter.com/bnharrington) 

Hear from Ruff on his new role in the press box

Lindy Ruff made a surprise appearance at his regular postgame news conference Wednesday nigght following the Sabres' 6-0 win over the Bruins. 

"I felt better and better as the game went on," Ruff said. "By the end, I felt really good."

Ruff said he will be in the press box for the forseeable future, partly because he can't get out of the way of errant pucks and also because he can't yell, so it would be difficult to yell out lines over the crowd (and ostensibly resist the urge to yell at officials).

Here's the audio of the session.


Lindy Ruff

---Mike Harrington
(www.twitter.com/bnharrington) 

Lindy's video rant on Tootoo: 'It's a joke'

Lindy Ruff's post-game news conference Saturday night in Nashville lasted less than a minute but he sure made his point about the Jordan Tootoo-Ryan Miller incident. Check it out below.

Your move, Brendan Shanahan.

---Mike Harrington
(www.twitter.com/bnharrington) 

Miller gets Ruff's call

It's been six days since Ryan Miller has been in goal for the Buffalo Sabres. The wait ends tonight when Miller gets the top job in the crease back as the Winnipeg Jets come to First Niagara Center.

Coach Lindy Ruff wasn't giving any hints yesterday but said today he made his decision on the flight home Saturday from Ottawa after Jhonas Enroth posted a 3-2 shootout win over the Senators, his second in two days. Miller's renewed vigor and feistiness during and after Monday's practice had no bearing on the choice, the coach said.

"Everything in this case gets blown out of proportion a little bit,' Ruff said. "Probably Jhonas' numbers (4-0-0,  1.41, .952) are a little unrealistic and Ryan's (0-4, 3.91 in the last four) have taken a hit on some real bad plays by our hockey club at the same time. Any player can go through a tough stretch. In Ryan's situation, he's played good but he hasn't played great and I'll be the first to admit that. It might be a timely save here or there that makes a difference."

Ruff said he's sensed a difference in his team since the seven-minute nightmare Wednesday against Philadelphia that saw Miller get yanked after giving up three goals. The Sabres dominated the final 40 minutes of that game and then put together solid efforts against Calgary and Ottawa.

"I think that was a big wakeup call and I tried to use putting the goalie in without taking a timeout as the opportunity to talk to the team," Ruff said. "The referee was lambasting me at the same time but that situation is an eye-opener. We got off to a good start [to the season]. We were a little off track, a little inconsistent and we need to get back to being a lot harder team on the puck and lot harder team to play against when we don't have it."

Miller declined to speak to the media today. That's a little unusual for him, but there wasn't much new ground to cover anyway after he spoke for six minutes yesterday. And it's not unusual at all in the context of the league. Like starting pitchers in baseball, many NHL goalies don't speak after the morning skate on gameday.

No changes to the lineup. Marc-Andre Gragnani remains in at defense and Mike Weber remains a scratch.

Here the audio from Ruff's chat today with reporters below.


Lindy Ruff

---Mike Harrington
(www.twitter.com/bnharrington) 

Video from Finland: Lindy hands out the letters

The Sabres' official Web site has posted this video from the team dinner Thursday in Helsinki, showing Lindy Ruff making the announcement that Jason Pominville will be the team's captain and that Paul Gaustad, Thomas Vanek, Derek Roy and Drew Stafford will serve as alternates. Pominville then addresses the team.

Video and audio: Adams introduced as assistant

Kevyn Adams:

Lindy Ruff:

New 'professor' to lead Amerks

ROCHESTER -- Darcy Regier and Ted Black were both freely tossing around the "Sabres University" moniker today in Blue Cross Arena, and Black went one step further when he introduced Ron Rolston as the "first professor at the University of Sabres." That's otherwise known as the new head coach of the Rochester Amerks.

It's an out-of-the-box hire when you're putting a coach with no pro experience in the AHL, but Rolston has a combined 20 years with the US National Development Team and as an assistant in major Division I college hockey. And he's not unfamiliar to Regier, who said he met Rolston several years ago in Lake Placid through Jon Christiano, the Sabres' director of pro scouting, and has followed his work since with the US program.

"I personally believe you have to be in the forefront of whatever business you're in," Regier said. "In our case, we have for a number of reasons strived to find advantages outside of conventional wisdom. ... I recognized that we first decided to come back to Rochester, the reference to University was largely about doing things differently, taking more responsibility for the players' development and also demand the player take more responsiblity for his own development.

"When we started to look at the model and started to look at potential coaches who could fill that and believed they could fill that type of a model, Ron to me was right at the forefront. He was our first 
choice."

Rolston said he's been watching Terry Pegula closely since the Sabres owner donated $88 million to Penn State to start a hockey program and build an arena last fall.

"There's not many organizations I'd want to work for in terms of their philsophy, core values, their beliefs in how they want to run things," said Rolston, 44. "Buffalo was certainly at the top of my list in terms of organization, in terms of clear vision on where they want to go, in terms of what they believe in, the values they have and philosophy they have for players at every level. To me, it was extremely enticing."

Regier said the Sabres approached USA Hockey for permission to talk to Rolston and interviewed him last week in Buffalo. 

"I feel very strongly that he is the only best candidate but we are going to learn from him," Regier said. "He hopefully will learn from us and it will point to championship teams in Rochester and Buffalo."

---Mike Harrington
(www.twitter.com/bnharrington) 

 

 

Sabres get their (unknown) man for Rochester

The Rochester Democrat & Chronicle is reporting there is an 11 a.m. news conference tomorrow at Blue Cross Arena to announce the Sabres have named Ron Rolston as the new head coach of the Rochester Amerks.

What's that you say? Ron Who? That was my reaction too.

Rolston, 44, has never been a pro coach so this seems like a risky hire on the surface. But he's hardly a neophyte either. He has been the coach for USA Hockey’s National Team Development Program the past seven years and has been an assistant coach at big-name college programs such as Lake Superior State, Clarkson, Harvard and Boston College. The Sabres want to continue to develop young talent and Rolston certainly appears to have the resume to do that.

Rolston is the older brother of longtime NHL player Brian Rolston.

He interviewed earlier this month for the head job at Western Michigan University. He has twice coached the U.S. team in the World Junior Championships, winning a bronze medal in 2007.

5:40 update: Philadelphia Flyers star James van Riemsdyk has tweeted his congratulations to Rolston.

---Mike Harrington
(www.twitter.com/bnharrington) 

 

State of the Sabres: A video recap

John Vogl, Bucky Gleason and Mike Harrington offer some video commentary on Friday's State of the Sabres address featuring Terry Pegula, Ted Black, Darcy Regier and Lindy Ruff. 

Topics include Ruff's contract extension, the team's approach to free agency, what the team needs for 2011-12, and what will change in HSBC Arena.

Click below to watch.

State of the Sabres comes Friday morning

The Sabres' players cleaned out their lockers and had their say Thursday morning. On Friday morning, it will be the front office's turn.

On Thursday evening, the team announced that it will have a State of the Sabres news conference with owner Terry Pegula, President Ted Black, General Manager Darcy Regier and coach Lindy Ruff Friday at 11 a.m. in HSBC Arena.

There will certainly be some pressing issues to address with Regier and Ruff, notably their feeling on the team's unrestricted free agents and young players, as well as the status of the injured Jason Pominville -- who may not be ready for training camp or the start of the regular season. But it will particularly noteworthy to hear what Pegula and Black have to say about the team moving forward.

They've promised big things since they took over and have helped foster a rapid change in the culture of the organization. This will be their first real discussion of how they plan to handle the offseason and it should be interesting.

---Mike Harrington
(www.twitter.com/bnharrington) 

Sounds from the Sabres' locker room

PHILADELPHIA -- Comments from the Sabres after Tuesday's 5-2 loss to the Flyers in Game Seven:


Lindy Ruff


Ryan Miller


Paul Gaustad

Laviolette on Lindy: 'I thought it was funny'

PHILADELPHIA -- Peter Laviolette and Lindy Ruff have some history in the chirping department dating to the 2006 Eastern Conference finals when Laviolette coached Carolina. So it figured the Flyers coach would have some reaction to Ruff's "they're whining" rant from yesterday.

"I thought it was funny," Laviolette said. "One of the [Flyers' assistant] coaches did a little spoof on it today in the coaches office and took out the word 'whining' and put in 'winning.' It was pretty funny. We don't get involved in too much of that crap but it was funny. We had a good time with it."

Pressed on whether it was inevitable Ruff would spout off in this series based on his '06 experience, Laviolette simply said, "We don't get wrapped up too much in that. We had a good chuckle."

Ruff said he wasn't worried he was motivating the Flyers with his comments.

"I think we got a lot of motivation from their comments is what i think," Ruff said. "That we got away with murder, we got a lot of motivation out of that. That really fired us up."

In Laviolette's session, he dodges most questions about Chris Pronger, discusses Ruff and heaps praise on the Flyers' penalty killers.

Ruff was quizzed quite a bit about Brad Boyes by NHL.com, and also discusses Tim Connolly, the need for a better power play and more on Ryan Miller

---Mike Harrington
(www.twitter.com/bnharrington) 


Peter Laviolette


Lindy Ruff

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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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