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Myers on last-place finish: 'It can only go up'

By Mike Harrington

Defenseman Tyler Myers certainly finished the season as one of the most frustrated Sabres. He sat out five games with an elbow problem in the middle of March -- missing a trip to his childhood home of Calgary for the second time in his career -- and then returned March 25 against Montreal. In the third period of that game, Myers slid hard into a goalpost and revealed today he suffered two broken ribs.

So Myers missed the final 10 games of the season and thus 15 of the last 16. That gave him a lot of free time to sit around and watch.

"Obviously it was a season that we have to make sure we reflect on and realize changes need to be made," Myers said today after cleaning out his locker. "We also want to take the positives out of it too and bring those into September and make sure everybody is on the same page.

"Whenever you finish in last place in the league, it can only go up from there. It's a matter of coming in, trying to improve every day,  coming together as a group and working as a team that can get into contention."

Myers is actually getting close to middle age of his NHL career. He's played five seasons and is through two years of his seven-year, $38.5 million contract. By the end of next year, the former Calder Trophy winner will be 25. 

"Guys around my age in the room definitely have to step up and be the core of this team," Myers acknowledged. "It's a young team and we can definitely take steps this summer and become leaders."

Like everyone in the organization, Myers is encouraged by the team's depth on defense. That's particularly true when talking about first-rounders Rasmus Ristolainen and Nikita Zadorov.

"With Risto and Big Z coming, those are two guys that have a lot of potential," Myers said. "It's all going to come down to, not only the D-corps coming together, but the whole team. We have to start creating a belief system that we didn't start with this year."

Click below to hear the audio of Myers' wide-ranging interview today:

Tyler Myers

Lieuwen, Neuvirth making Sabres' road trip while Enroth, Myers among those staying home

By John Vogl

The Sabres are clearing out of First Niagara Center today to make room for the NCAA Tournament, and they have two piles of equipment bags. One is for the guys going on the 11-day trip. The other is for those who aren't -- and that's a pretty big pile.

Jhonas Enroth, Tyler Myers, Zemgus Girgensons, Alexander Sulzer and Chris Stewart headline the injured players who will stay in Buffalo. Torrey Mitchell expects to play Tuesday in Calgary.

Goaltenders Nathan Lieuwen, who made his NHL debut Sunday against Montreal, and Michal Neuvirth (lower body) are set to fly west. Neuvirth is still day-to-day, so coach Ted Nolan didn't rule out a third netminder joining the team.

"He could wake up tomorrow morning as fresh as a daisy, but we’ll wait till then," Nolan said of Neuvirth.

The recently acquired netminder said he woke up sore Friday after a 51-save performance Thursday in Carolina, but he practiced Saturday morning, took the pregame warmup and backed up Enroth for the Sabres' loss to the New York Islanders.

Neuvirth didn't dress Sunday and skated lightly today.

"It depends how I’m going to feel tomorrow, but I’m feeling better every day," he said in the arena. "I’m hoping it’s going to be good tomorrow."

Enroth is still undergoing testing for the leg injury he suffered during the second period Sunday night.

"It looks a little bit better," Nolan said. "He’s going to get further evaluations. He’s going to stay behind, but it looks a little bit better today than yesterday. Definitely out this trip."

Nolan said Myers could join the Sabres before the end of the journey, which includes stops in Calgary, Edmonton, Vancouver, Montreal and Nashville.

Ted Nolan

Nathan Lieuwen

Michal Neuvirth

The wait is over: Myers back in lineup as suspension ends

By Mike Harrington

TORONTO -- The Blizzard of 2014 made Tyler Myers wait an extra day to return from his suspension as the Sabres' Jan. 7 game against Carolina was postponed and pushed his three-game ban back a day. The waiting is over and Myers will be back tonight in Air Canada Center as the Sabres play the Maple Leafs

"It feels good to be back," Myers said while meeting with reporters here in the 5 o'clock hour. "I had to wait an extra day but it's nice it's finally here. It wasn't the best feeling having to wait an extra day. But at the end of the day, it's still three games and I'll be able to play against Carolina (in the Feb. 25 makeup game).

Myers was playing some of his best hockey of the season before taking a seat in the wake of his head shot Jan. 4 against New Jersey's Dainius Zubrus. It was the second suspension of his career but don't look for him to change.

"I don't think I need to be changing my game. I'm not the type of guy that's reckless or looking to injure somebody," Myers said. "On that play, I was just trying to be aggressive. At my height and with my size, I think t's going to happen sometimes. I'll have to be aware of it for sure but I don't think I want to change my game."

Continue reading "The wait is over: Myers back in lineup as suspension ends" »

Postponement extends Myers' suspension

By Mike Harrington

One bad consequence of tonight's postponement is that it will extend defenseman Tyler Myers' three-game suspension that was handed down by the NHL on Monday.

Myers was scheduled to miss tonight's game against Carolina, Thursday's visit by Florida and Sunday's trip to Washington. But with tonight's game not played, Myers will now miss Tuesday's visit by Philadelphia as well and return to the lineup next Wednesday in Toronto.

Myers gets three-game suspension

By Mike Harrington

The NHL has come down hard on Tyler Myers, handing the Sabres defenseman a three-game suspension this evening for his head shot Saturday night against New Jersey's Dainius Zubrus.

In the above video issued by the NHL Department of Player Safety and narrated by Player Safety director Patrick Burke, Myers was cited for unnecessary head contact.

Said Burke: "Until just before impact, Myers is in position to make a legal full bodycheck on Zubrus, who is eligible to be checked. However, rather than remaining in an athletic position, and delivering a check into Zubrus' chest or shoulder, Myers unnecessarily extends upward and drives his right shoulder into Zubrus' jaw -- when head contact such as this is completely avoidable."

It's the second suspension of Myers' career, as he also earned a three-game ban for boarding in 2012.

I would say the NHL got this one about right. And the three-game suspension certainly backs the postgame feeling of New Jersey coach Peter DeBoer that Myers should have gotten a five-minute major penalty for the infraction and not just a minor.

Under the terms of the Collective Bargaining Agreement and based on his average annual salary, Myers will forfeit $84,615.39. The money goes to the Players' Emergency Assistance Fund.

Myers thus misses Tuesday's game against Carolina, Thursday's visit by the Florida Panthers and Sunday's game in Washington. He is eligible to return Jan. 14 against Philadelphia.

Sabres' Myers to have disciplinary hearing Monday for head shot on Zubrus

By John Vogl

Tyler Myers has a date with Brendan Shanahan.

The NHL's disciplinarian has scheduled a hearing with Myers for Monday afternoon to discuss Myers' illegal hit to the head of New Jersey's Dainius Zubrus on Saturday night. (The video of the play is below.) The Buffalo defenseman went airborne to hit Zubrus along the boards, and the head was principal point of contact.

It will be a phone hearing, a NHL spokesperson said by email, which carries a lesser penalty than an in-person hearing.

"I haven’t seen the replay," Myers said after the 2-1 victory. "It happened pretty quick, but I felt like I got all shoulder."

Coach Ted Nolan did not comment on the legality of the hit but questioned its necessity. It came during  a New Jersey power play and resulted in a five-on-three for the Devils, who scored with the two-man advantage.

Continue reading "Sabres' Myers to have disciplinary hearing Monday for head shot on Zubrus" »

Sabres' Myers hopes physical, mental workouts allow defenseman to become himself again

By John Vogl

Tyler Myers employed new tricks over the summer to improve his body and mind. Why?

"You have a year like you did last year, you want to change some things," the Sabres defenseman said today.

Last year was as forgettable as it comes for Myers. Fresh off cashing a $10 million signing bonus, he arrived in training camp out of shape and never got right. He labored through 39 games, putting up only eight points and a minus-8 rating, before breaking a bone in his leg during the final weeks.

"I’ll be the first to say, that’s not me as a player last year," Myers said in First Niagara Center. "I have to be much better, and it’s just a matter of taking it day by day and focusing on improving each and every day, right up until that first game, and then continuing that throughout the season."

Myers appears in peak form physically during training camp. He spent much of the summer training in Buffalo, and he even brought a Sabres strength and conditioning intern back to his home in Kelowna, British Columbia, for more work.

"I still got the benefit of seeing friends and family at home, but the way he pushed me in mornings and what we got out of the Sabres’ program, I’m really happy I did that," Myers said.

The 23-year-old was a mental wreck at times last season, his confidence broken by the on-ice troubles and off-ice comments. He's trying to get ahold of the head games.

"It’s just a matter of the way you handle different situations and make sure you stay on yourself to continue that each and every opportunity you can," he said. "The mental side of it is something that’s pretty new to me. I’ve never really branched off in that area before in the past to this depth, I would say, but the steps that I’m taking with that they’re really helping me."

To hear Myers' frank, 14-minute chat, click the audio file below.

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

Considered a strong point at start of season, Sabres' defense has been decimated

By John Vogl

The Sabres sent Adam Pardy to the minors at the start of the year after designating him as their ninth-best defenseman. He'll be in the top four Saturday when Buffalo hosts Philadelphia.

Trades and injuries, including today's announcement that Tyler Myers is done for the year after breaking a bone in his leg, have decimated a defense that was once considered a team strong point.

Only two of the six players who started on opening day are still available to play, Christian Ehrhoff and Andrej Sekera. Myers and Alexander Sulzer are out with injuries, and the team traded Jordan Leopold and Robyn Regehr. Mike Weber, a season-opening scratch, remains, while T.J. Brennan, who also started the season in the press box, was dealt to Florida for a fifth-round pick.

Continue reading "Considered a strong point at start of season, Sabres' defense has been decimated" »

Sabres' Myers done for year after breaking bone in his leg

By John Vogl

The Sabres' talent level, which has dropped significantly through trades recently, is going down again. The team announced today that defenseman Tyler Myers will miss the rest of the season with a broken bone in his leg.

Myers played a team-high 25:37 during the 5-1 loss to Montreal, including a final shift with 2:41 to go. He was particularly critical of the team following the game but didn't show signs of the ailment.

It's not yet known how Myers suffered the injury. He blocked a team-high four shots, including a close-range blast during a five-on-three power play for Montreal. He also blocked a shot by P.K. Subban with 2:56 to play during his final shift.

Myers has struggled for much of this season after reporting to the team out of shape. He has three goals, eight points and a minus-8 rating in 39 games. Nonetheless, he was second on the team in ice time per game at 21:18, and the Sabres will need to replace his minutes.

The Sabres' farm team in Rochester has been thin on defense, with the Amerks recently signing blue-liners Michael Wilson and Fredonia native Nick Bailen to pro and amateur tryout contracts, respectively. Top prospect Brayden McNabb is out for the year with an injury.

Alex Biega, a fifth-round pick by Buffalo in 2006, leads active Amerks defensemen with 22 points, including 18 assists, in 66 games.

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" »

Postgame audio: Lots of As to give for big comeback against Bs

Myers
Tyler Myers celebrates his third-period goal. (Harry Scull Jr/Buffalo News)


By Mike Harrington

It was one of those nights. 

The Sabres were decent in the first period (albeit unable to get the puck out of their zone for the first 82 seconds). They were horrific in the second, getting richly deserved boos on their way off the ice in a 2-1 hole that would have been about 6-1 or 7-1 were it not for Ryan Miller. 

Something pretty darn interesting must have gone on in that dressing room in the second intermission. Tyler Myers and Lindy Ruff both admitted there was plenty of anger and the third period that followed was easily this club's best of the year. 

When the 4-2 win over the Boston Bruins was complete, Drew Stafford (the elephant finally off his back after scoring his first goal), greeted the media in an outlandish fur coat with Sabres logo on the back. He then unleashed this gem as reporters encircled him: "Guys, I want to thank Mike Harrington for letting me borrow his coat."

Hey man, whatever works. 

Continue reading "Postgame audio: Lots of As to give for big comeback against Bs" »

Myers gets another chance vs. Sens

Myers
Tyler Myers (right) met Colin Greening along the boards last week in Ottawa and gets another shot tonight. (Getty Images)

 

By Mike Harrington

OTTAWA -- The Sabres have done a lot of talking the last few days amongst themselves. But what's the old adage? Talk is cheap. Let's see what it means on the ice.

We get a big look tonight at Scotiabank Place as defenseman Tyler Myers returns to the lineup for the game against the Ottawa Senators after sitting out two games as a healthy scratch. Myers had long talks with coach Lindy Ruff and veteran Robyn Regher last Friday in Long Island and said today he's prepared to be "starting from ground zero"* tonight.

(*Good call considering Myers' minus-9 rating is better than only the minus-10 of Los Angeles' Drew Doughty. Wow, there's a reason the defending champs are worse off than the Sabres).

"It feels good to be back in but I don't know if it's a relief," Myers said today. "I don't come here just to get in the lineup. I need to put together a solid defensive game and just build it from there. I've tried to work as hard as I can using the time I have to try to mentally get prepared and that's the biggest thing. I don't think at this point it's anything physical. It's just getting my head straight."

Continue reading "Myers gets another chance vs. Sens" »

The morning skate lineup

By Mike Harrington

OTTAWA -- The Sabres have hit the ice at Scotiabank Place for their pregame skate. As Lindy Ruff said this morning, Mikhail Grigorenko is back in his normal spot on the third line. One of the fourth liners will be a scratch. The lines look like this:

Vanek-Hodgson-Pominville
Foligno-Ennis-Stafford
Ott-Grigorenko-Gerbe
Scott-McCormick/Hecht-Kaleta

The defense will have the return of Tyler Myers. The current pairs are:

Myers-Regehr
Ehrhoff-Sekera
Leopold-Weber
Sulzer-Brennan

I would assume pair four are the scratches. Have to see who gets extra work.

Lindy update: Myers, Grigorenko back in tonight

By Mike Harrington

OTTAWA -- In his weekly appearance on WGR Radio this morning, coach Lindy Ruff announced that defenseman Tyler Myers and center Mikhail Grigorenko will return to the lineup tonight against the Ottawa Senators. Myers has been a healthy scratch the last two games while Grigorenko sat out Sunday against Boston.

There was no indication who will be coming out of the lineup. The Sabres are scheduled to skate at Scotiabank Place at 11:30.

Myers 'embarrassed' to be taken out of Sabres' lineup as healthy scratch

By John Vogl

UNIONDALE – Lindy Ruff is tired of waiting for Tyler Myers’ game to come around, so there won’t be one for the defenseman tonight.

The Sabres will scratch their struggling D-man when they visit the New York Islanders. Myers was put through a strenuous workout at the end of an optional morning skate in Nassau Coliseum.

“I’m embarrassed, and I should be,” said Myers, who was benched for a game early last season.

Continue reading "Myers 'embarrassed' to be taken out of Sabres' lineup as healthy scratch" »

Decision on D: Who sits Saturday?

By Mike Harrington

Andrej Sekera practiced with the Sabres Friday in the Nassau Coliseum and is expected to play Saturday against the New York Islanders. Adam Pardy has been loaned back to Rochester.

So the Sabres' options could include dressing all seven defensemen (using T.J. Brennan as a power-play specialist) or scratching one. For purposes of this poll, assume Christian Ehrhoff plays and everyone else could be in peril.

Do they simply scratch Brennan? Or does Lindy Ruff make a bolder move and finally tell Jordan Leopold or Tyler Myers -- who is last in the NHL in plus-minus at -9 -- to take a seat in the press box?

Cast your vote below:

Ruff: 'I'm a little above disbelief'

By Mike Harrington

There's no real practice time in the NHL this season. Not with this bottleneck of a schedule. So the Sabres were on the ice less than 45 minutes today in First Niagara Center before heading to Ottawa for tomorrow's game against the Senators.

And they were still shaking their heads over the way Sunday's 3-1 lead against Florida -- which hit town last in the Eastern Conference -- turned into a 4-3 loss.

"We have some things to clean up," said defenseman Tyler Myers. "A 3-1 lead, we didn't bury a lot of chances in the second period ... There's a way you have to play and we gave up too much and let them back in the game."

Of course, there's little scoring from anyone other than the top line right now. Drew Stafford, a former 31-goal scorer stuck at zero for his $4 million contract, said more scoring and more awareness in games is needed.

"It needs to happen and it needs to happen right now," Stafford said. "We don't have a lot of time to turn it back around. If you do lose a couple in a row, that hurts. That's something we're doing our best to address but we need to be even better."

Continue reading "Ruff: 'I'm a little above disbelief'" »

Not-so-Super Sabres numbers

By Mike Harrington

We should hear an injury update from Lindy Ruff in the 1 p.m. hour as we head toward the 3 p.m. faceoff downtown between the Sabres and Florida Panthers. Can this club play any worse than it did Saturday during what John Vogl aptly called its beatdown in Montreal? Doubt it. But there's still 40 games left. 

As I went through the NHL stat pack this morning, I pondered some of these numbers:

---Thomas Vanek enters today tied for the NHL scoring lead with Tampa Bay's Steven Stamkos. Both have seven goals and nine assists for 16 points, although Vanek has played one less game. Frankly, Vanek needs to get on the ice more. He enters today averaging 19 minutes, 13 seconds per contest -- and that's only 58th among NHL forwards. (Stamkos is at 21:13).

Here's the leader board in that department.

Here's the second page, which pegs Vanek right between Michael Grabner of the Islanders and Joe Pavelski of San Jose.

Continue reading "Not-so-Super Sabres numbers" »

Audio: Myers, Ruff, Pominville, Stafford comment on Sabres' 6-1 debacle in Montreal

Tyler Myers

Lindy Ruff

Drew Stafford

Jason Pominville

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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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