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Miller, Ott and others speak on Twitter

By Mike Harrington

Here's a collection of tweets posted last night and this morning by some of the principals in the Sabres-Blues trade (and one from Ryan Miller's wife, Noureen DeWulf):

Sabres say goodbye to Miller, Ott in blockbuster with Blues

By John Vogl

Ryan Miller, one of the most eloquent speakers in the hockey world, fumbled for the right words. Just traded from the only team he’d ever known, the goaltender had emotions whizzing though him faster than any slap shot ever could.

“I kind of figured this is what would happen,” said a tear-fighting Miller, who had thought long about a possible trade but could never truly prepare for it. “It just kind of hits you all at once.”

With that, one of the two best goalies in Buffalo’s history cut off his comments and prepared to join his new team in St. Louis.

Continue reading "Sabres say goodbye to Miller, Ott in blockbuster with Blues " »

Sabres scratch Miller, Ott

By John Vogl

Ryan Miller was supposed to play his last game in Buffalo tonight. It appears the last game actually was Tuesday.

The Sabres have made the goaltender a late scratch and will go with Jhonas Enroth instead tonight against San Jose. The decision likely was made to keep Miller healthy for a trade, which may be imminent.

The Sabres are also sitting captain Steve Ott.

"If that does happen and they’re not in, you’ll probably know why they’re not in," coach Ted Nolan said this morning. "I could say we’re resting them or they’ve got an upper-body or lower-body injury, one of those mysterious things, but you guys will probably know."

Word out of St. Louis is the Blues have zeroed in on acquiring Miller for their playoff run. Reports out of Montreal have Jaroslav Halak coming back to Buffalo in a deal for Miller.

Stay tuned to Sabres Edge for more details as they develop.

Steve Ott: No contract talks with Sabres, wants to stay but knows situation

By John Vogl

This is Steve Ott's 11th season in the NHL. He knows that unrestricted free agents on rebuilding teams usually get a new address at the trade deadline.

The Sabres' captain is a pending unrestricted free agent. Buffalo is in last place. The deadline is March 5.

It doesn't take a "Big Bang Theory" scientist to put those facts together and decide Ott's future with the Sabres is in question.

"I told them I want to be here," Ott said today after practice in the rink at Riverside Park. "We’ll see where it all goes. I am professional enough to know the business side of things and what the situation is here as well. We’ll see how it all plays out in the next two weeks."

Ott said he has not had contract talks with the Sabres.

"I’ve been in this same situation before in my career, and it’s control what you can control," he said. "That’s going out there and playing as hard as you can. Obviously, it’s great to be wanted, and the rumor stuff continues to float around when anybody’s a UFA. I think it’s just continue to be a professional, go out there and do what you’ve done and everything takes care of itself."

Steve Ott

Ott's Otters are outta here

Otter
(Photo by the Buffalo Sabres)

By John Vogl

The partnership between Steve Ott and the Buffalo Zoo, which brought stuffed otters to Sabres fans, went swimmingly -- just not for those people who waited to get one.

The Sabres have announced that all the stuffed animals, dubbed "Ott's Otters," have been sold. The team introduced the furry creatures Wednesday and had tremendous immediate response. The Sabres put the limited number of remaining otters on the shelves in the Sabres Store at 10 this morning, and they were gone within a half-hour.

"Thank you for the overwhelming support of #OttsOtters," the Sabres' captain wrote on Twitter.

The otters, wearing Ott's jersey and accompanied by his autograph, sold for $25. All proceeds are set to go to the Buffalo Zoo.

“This program is a great way for our fans to show their love of the Sabres while supporting such an important community asset in the Buffalo Zoo,” Ott said. “As a big animal lover, I’m excited to be involved in a program that will help raise money and awareness for the Buffalo Zoo.”

Ott on Kaleta's 10-game suspension: 'It's hard because there's no injury on the play'

By Mike Harrington

Patrick Kaleta has appealed his 10-game suspension and the Sabres are waiting to find out when his appeal process will be heard. Tonight's game against Vancouver will already be his fourth one out of the lineup. Fellow Sabres agitator Steve Ott said the issue he's had with Brendan Shanahan's ruling is that Columbus defenseman Jack Johnson was not hurt on the play and went on to get 23 minutes of ice time in the Oct. 10 game against the Sabres.

"It's hard because there's no injury on the play," Ott told The News today after the Sabres' pregame skate. "I have a hard time with it for that simple fact. Is it suspendable? Absolutely, as in the guy could have really been hurt. But could have is not good enough for me.

"No one wants to see anybody injured by any means but that has to play in the equation if you're going to throw a book at somebody. He didn't even fall. Could it have been bad? Sure. For me, the injury has to play into the situation."

That said, Ott acknowledged my theory that Kaleta could be at a career crossroads much like the one Matt Cooke hit when he was with Pittsburgh. Cooke, in fact, told ESPN.com's Pierre LeBrun yesterday in Toronto that he spoke with Kaleta late Monday night after the Sabres-Wild game and told him he'd be available to talk about how he dealt with his own situation at any point in the future.

"I'd rather have to tone down a player than try to raise him up," Ott said. "That's huge. If it's the essence of keeping him in the lineup, maybe you have to town him down a little bit but we need Patty to play hard minutes. And let's be honest here: Every other team in the league would like to have a Patty Kaleta out there. Every team has a guy that plays hard that way. You can tone down somebody. You can't tone them back up. What way would you rather have it?"

Kaleta was on the ice in today's morning skate wearing a full face shield as a result of the ensuing fight after the hit with Columbus' Jared Boll. The Sabres said they will make him available to the media after the timetable for his appeal is established, perhaps as soon as tomorrow.

In scripted scene, Ott loses patience, unveils Sabres' third jersey

By John Vogl

Steve Ott stopped by the Sabres' arena today before catching a flight to New York for an NHL media tour. He created a little scripted havoc before he went. The result was an unveiling of the Sabres' new third jersey.

The multicolored jersey is gold in front with the traditional logo, but the back is blue with silver numbers and gold letters.

Ottfrontlarge

Backlarge

The Sabres have been teasing small glimpses of the jersey on their Twitter feed. After Ott joked on Twitter that the jersey unveil was taking longer than a dinner invite from teammate and close friend Mike Weber, the Sabres responded, "Hi Steve, we appreciate your excitement for the jersey, but we have a lot more pics to go before we unveil!"

Ott proceeded to get a jersey in the arena and threatened to unveil it in 10 minutes if the Sabres didn't. He followed through with his threat.

The tweets followed a script set up by the Sabres, who had their change to the infamous "slug" jersey leaked in 2006.

Team still in awe after emotional night in Beantown

Silence
The Boston Marathon memorial ribbon is on the scoreboard and the ice during a moment of silence Wednesday in TD Garden. (Getty Images)


By Mike Harrington

The Sabres got a huge win last night in Boston and are still alive in the playoff race with the New York Rangers coming to town Friday (after hosting the Florida Panthers tonight in Madison Square Garden).

The team had a brief, 20-minute workout today in Amherst and will fully turn to the Rangers in video sessions and their pregame skate Friday morning. But it was basically impossible today to not reflect on last night's emotional shootout win over the Bruins, an event that is the talk of the nation and far transcends sports in the wake of the bombings at the Boston Marathon.

"It was probably the most emotional game I've ever been a part of for so many reasons," said Steve Ott. "The way the Boston fans and community with what they've been going through, it's obviously been a horrific 2-3 days now. For them to come out there and cheer and put some smiles on their faces for a couple hours is the least we could do to try to battle for the fans and show the pride of both teams."

"I had chills just looking around," Lynnfield, Mass., native Brian Flynn said of the fans-led national anthem. "I don't think there was one person in the stands that wasn't singing."

Added interim coach Ron Rolston: "It was an amazing night. It was a great tribute for the people of Boston. I know for our guys and certainly the staff, it was really a great event to be part of."

Click below to hear audio from Ott, Flynn and Rolston. Plenty of talk about the Boston game and some about the keys to the Sabres somehow staying alive in the playoff race in the face of all their deals at the trade deadline and their injuries.

Steve Ott

Brian Flynn

Ron Rolston

Sabres somber talking about Boston; ex-BC star Gerbe calls Marathon bombing 'embarrassing for our world'

By Mike Harrington

As you would imagine, some pretty raw emotions in the Sabres' locker room early this afternoon as they got set to head to Boston for Wednesday night's game against the Bruins, which will be the first in the city since Monday's bombing at the Boston Marathon.

Rookie defenseman Chad Ruhwedel was playing last week for Frozen Four team Mass-Lowell, a 30-minute commuter train ride away from downtown, and was shaking his head that he could have been at the site of the blasts had he not signed his pro contract and come to Buffalo on Saturday.

"It was just heartbreaking to see that," Ruhwedel said. "The Boston Marathon is huge. Marathon Monday is huge. People go out having fun all day long. It's a good time all day. For something like that to happen is devastating.

"If I didn't have this great opportunity, I'd probably would have been down there hanging out with my team. It hit me like that. I would have been somewhere in the vicinity."

Ruhwedel said he talked to friends, teammates and family members and everyone is OK in the wake of the blast. He said his teammates didn't see the actual explosions but were close by in the area when they happened on Boylston Street at 2:50 p.m.

Winger Nathan Gerbe, a former Hobey Baker runner-up at Boston College, had a look of similar shock.

"You know exactly where it is. I've walked past there I couldn't even tell you how many times," Gerbe said. "At times for yourself, you thank God for keeping you safe. But something like this happening is embarrassing for our world to affect innocent people and innocent children. Sad."

Gerbe said he's likely to just stay inside the Sabres' hotel the next couple days and not wander around Boston like he normally does.

"I think you're a little worried going into the city obviously," he said. "They don't know exactly why and how and who. You don't know the rhyme or reasons around it. Going into the city, I'm a little nervous and a little cautious I guess. I don't know if I'm going to go out walking around in the city or not. I'm probably just going to stay in the hotel and chill."

Steve Ott, who has a 5-year-old daughter, said he was touched deeply by the death of 8-year-old Martin Richard in the blast.

"It's horrific. Obviously life doesn't make sense sometimes," Ott said. "... The stories that are coming out of that incident are just horrible."

The Sabres figure to enter an emotionally charged atmosphere Wednesday in TD Garden, with the eyes of the nation likely to be on pregame ceremonies.

"It's going to be a little bit overwhelming to start the game with heavy hearts just as people," Ott said. "It's extremely disheartening to hear and see. ... I'm sure there will be a lot of mixed emotions. ... Everyone is going to be playing with heavy hearts. It's going to be very touching to start the game."

Click below to hear audio from Gerbe, Ruhwedel and Ott.

Nathan Gerbe

Chad Ruhwedel

Steve Ott

Ott not worried about reaction back home, says he wants to be a Sabre 'for a long time'

Ott2

By Mike Harrington

WINNIPEG, Manitoba -- The door to the Buffalo Sabres' dressing room opened early this afternoon at MTS Centre and the media swarmed Steve Ott. The horde that covers the Jets had already seen stories on TSN and other North American outlets linking our post from earlier today on Ott's explosive interview with WGR and there were other questions to be asked.

When most of the inquisitors were gone, I stayed and asked Ott for a few more thoughts. The biggest one he offered came when I asked him how worried he was about the fan booing saga becoming a factor in free agents or other players being willing to come to Buffalo.

"The reason why I care so much is because I have desire to be a Buffalo Sabre for a long time," Ott said. "I don't want to go anywhere. I've made that quite clear I want to be here for a long time. If I'm a UFA guy or trying to attract players, there's nothing better than coming into a building knowing, "Wow, this is a fun place to play.' And that's obviously concerning in the aspect of UFAs and trying
to attract the right players into the Buffalo Sabres."

Continue reading "Ott not worried about reaction back home, says he wants to be a Sabre 'for a long time'" »

Vanek and Ott switched as lines seek chemistry

By Mike Harrington

MONTREAL -- Thomas Vanek has two goals in the last 11 games, while Jason Pominville has two in his last 12 (and none in the last seven), so interim coach Ron Rolston is breaking up his top line for tonight's game in the Bell Centre.

Vanek will skate with Tyler Ennis and Ville Leino, while Steve Ott moves to the No. 1 unit with Pominville and Cody Hodgson. The line of Marcus Foligno-Kevin Porter-Brian Flynn stays intact while the fourth line will be Drew Stafford-Patrick Kaleta-Jochen Hecht.

"We're not winning as much as we want so obviously we're going to change things up but it doesn't matter," Vanek said. "Whoever you play with you try to make the best out of it. I've always said it doesn't matter who you play with, how much. You're a professional and you move on and deal with it.

Continue reading "Vanek and Ott switched as lines seek chemistry" »

After extra game out, Kaleta is back

By Mike Harrington

MONTREAL -- The Sabres have hugged it out and Patrick Kaleta is back in the lineup tonight at the Bell Centre.

That was the mood of the dressing room after today's pregame skate. Kaleta, suspended for five games and held out Sunday for another, was greeted by a swarm of Montreal media in the wake of Sunday's kerfluffle in Washington and said he had no issue with what Ryan Miller said after the game.

(The Sabres did not make Miller available to the media today even though Jhonas Enroth is starting; Miller, like many goalies, does not speak prior to games in which he is playing).

"He's like my brother, one of my best friends on the team," Kaleta said of Miller, his former road roommate. "Some things were misunderstood there but we're family. Our season hasn't gone the way we wanted it to go and everyone knows that. Our job is to come together as a team and go out there and battle."

Continue reading "After extra game out, Kaleta is back" »

Rolston breaks up top line, Enroth to start tonight vs. Montreal

By Mike Harrington

MONTREAL -- Quick notes from the end of the Sabres' morning skate:

---Interim coach Ron Rolston said after Sunday's game he might break up the top line and he made good on the thought today. Thomas Vanek has been dropped to the second trio and replaced by Steve Ott. Patrick Kaleta is also back in after missing six games, five on his suspension and Sunday's as a healthy scratch.

The lines were Ott-Hodgson-Pominville, Vanek-Ennis-Leino, Foligno-Porter-Flynn, Hecht-Stafford-Kaleta. The scratches are Gerbe and Scott.

---Jhonas Enroth will be in goal in place of Ryan Miller. He's 2-0 in three games against the Habs in his career with a 2.42 goals-against average and .917 save percentage.

More to come, with audio.

Video: Postgame reaction to Sabres loss to Penguins

Sounds from the Sabres' dressing room following 4-3 loss to Penguins

By John Vogl

While disappointment over the Sabres' 4-3 loss to Pittsburgh today was evident throughout the dressing room, there were wildly different views of the game.

Steve Ott, for example, was impressed with how the Sabres rallied from a 2-0 deficit and had a lead in the third period. Ryan Miller, in a profanity-filled chat, was furious the team blew that lead and got no points.

Continue reading "Sounds from the Sabres' dressing room following 4-3 loss to Penguins" »

Postgame audio: Miller, Ott and Foligno after another tough loss

Miller save
Ryan Miller and Mike Weber combine to thwart Chris Neil. (Getty Images)


By Mike Harrington

OTTAWA -- When you're judging quality of defeat, you know it's a bad season. That was the situation the Sabres were in after Tuesday's 2-0 loss to the Ottawa Senators at Scotiabank Place. 

There was plenty of merit to the thought because it was a big improvement over the previous three games. The offense generated chances (but didn't get nearly enough traffic in front of Craig Anderson) and for a good 35 minutes, the defense wasn't running around in its own end and smartly moved the puck around. No issues with Ryan Miller either. 

Continue reading "Postgame audio: Miller, Ott and Foligno after another tough loss" »

The latest Vanek attack (with postgame audio)

Vanek tying
Thomas Vanek is pumped after pulling the Sabres within 4-3. (Getty Images)



By Mike Harrington

It certainly helps to have the NHL's leading scorer but it's still hard to imagine the Sabres are third in the NHL in goals with 35. But that's the fact. Of course, being tied for last in goals-against with Washington (41) remains a huge issue.

Here's the latest numbers on Thomas Vanek's epic start to the season:

Continue reading "The latest Vanek attack (with postgame audio)" »

By the numbers: Faceoff follies could spell difference tonight

Faceoff
Mikhail Grigorenko has been a surprise in the faceoff circle. (Getty Images)



By Mike Harrington

BOSTON -- The Sabres have to be quicker on the draw. That's become plainly obvious this season. But it could really be a major issue tonight.

Buffalo enters the game last in the NHL in faceoff percentage at 42 percent -- and the Boston Bruins are No. 1 at 60.7 percent. There's been plenty of chatter on Twitter in recent days over how significant the Sabres' troubles in the circle really are. I say it's one key problem to the season (although I would list lack of secondary scoring and poor play along the blueline as bigger trouble spots).

(*I acknowledge a decent argument can be made that six games is a small sample size, although I remind you it's already 12.5 percent of the season. And it also can be pointed out that the numbers might even out a little bit as well because 42 percent is historically bad; the last-place team in the league has never been under 44 percent since 1998.).

Let's start by comparing the two teams' numbers. The NHL lists faceoffs in wins-losses format so a team or player that's, say, 20-25 has won 20 and lost 25 and is NOT 20 OUT OF 25 (Going 20-25 essentially means 20 of 45).

Continue reading "By the numbers: Faceoff follies could spell difference tonight" »

Ruff wants two points from Bruins, not a pound of flesh

 

By Mike Harrington

BOSTON -- It's been nearly 15 months but Milan Lucic-Ryan Miller was still on the media's minds today in TD Garden in advance of tonight's Sabres-Bruins game. Boston reporters swarmed new Sabres Steve Ott and John Scott in the locker room after the team's 40-minute pregame skate and peppered Lindy Ruff with questions about the Sabres' new approach.

Was adding Ott and Scott a reaction to Lucic? "It was just overall team toughness, make us a grittier team," said a clearly agitated Ruff. "It had nothing to do with the Bruins."

"You try to win the puck battles and the territorial battles. We have to win a game. Not coming out of here with points is not being successful. In a short season we need points. We've answered the physcial challenge. We've been there for each other from day one in this. We play a gritty style, a hitting style. We have to win games."

Continue reading "Ruff wants two points from Bruins, not a pound of flesh" »

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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 | [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]

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