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POSTED ON Friday, 01.31.2014 / 3:14 PM
By Craig Kanalley - Social Media Manager / BEYOND THE BOARDS

Chris McCormick watches his son Cody at practice

GLENDALE, AZ -- One of the remarkable things about the hockey community is how tight it is, and how many connections you’ll find if you just poke around into personal histories.

On Thursday, as the Buffalo Sabres participated in a morning skate at Jobing.com Arena in preparation for their game against the Phoenix Coyotes, family members looked on from the seats as the annual Parent’s Trip continued.

Speaking to those family members uncovered some interesting links, not just among players, but back to the coach too. Among them there is a shared history of hockey, Canada, and strong family values, along with a connection to some of the original inhabitants of Canada.

A conversation with Cody McCormick’s father, Chris, revealed that the McCormick family knew the Nolan family many years ago -- well before the two were united on a single sheet of ice in the National Hockey League.

“My grandmother’s family was raised on Ted’s reserve, and our reserve -- Batchewana -- is like five miles apart,” the elder McCormick said. “I used to play hockey with Ted’s older brother. We had a team in Garden River. I used to play cards with Ted’s dad, and I knew his mother and brothers.”

Chris McCormick, like Nolan, has First Nations’ blood. He is a descendant of the native inhabitants of what is now known as Canada.

“Chris is a family friend from way back,” Nolan said after Thursday’s morning skate. “When Cody made it, obviously we were all very proud of him making it into the National Hockey League. All of a sudden now I get to coach him, which makes it even more significant, considering growing up with his dad.”

While Chris McCormick didn’t mention it, Nolan added, “His dad is a former chief.”

The respect between the men, dating back many years, is mutual.

“Ted’s a really good guy and you can tell the improvement and the atmosphere with the players since he’s been here,” Chris McCormick said. “The spirit and them wanting to play. He’s brought it out in them.”

Some more conversations with Sabres family members in attendance revealed another connection: John Scott has First Nations blood as well.

“John’s mom is Cree Indian,” said Susan McCabe, Scott’s mother-in-law.

Nolan said he wasn’t aware that Scott had First Nations ancestry.

“I did not know that about John Scott’s mother, but I’ll dig in on that one,” he said. “It’s always good to find out a little bit more, instead of just all the time about X’s and O’s, wins and losses. There are many more stories to be told.”

Nolan added, “Sometimes we concentrate on the wrong things too often. We need to find out some good stories, and where these kids came from; some of the obstacles they had to overcome, battles they had to overcome in order to get here. To me, that’s what this game is all about, it’s about people.”

That’s what makes this trip so special. The players have the ability to spend time with the loved ones who have rooted them on and shaped them into who they are. It’s the people of the past that have molded these boys into men that compete at the highest level of hockey.

Chris McCormick recalled one memory from when Cody was in grade school, and playing community hockey.

“One of his teachers made this announcement to the class: ‘None of you guys will ever make it to the NHL.’ It was a motivator for him.”

There are good experiences and bad, but it’s the people around you who shape you into who you are. You don’t always get a glimpse into that personal history of the players, but it’s there.

McCabe said that John Scott has always been instilled with strong family values.

“He’s very involved. He’s very protective of family,” she said. “He’s a little overwhelmingly protective. It’s nice though because I feel safe. When I’m traveling, it’s nice to have him because no one bothers me. I just feel safe.”

She joked that Scott’s protective instincts could be interesting when his two-year-old daughter one day becomes a teenager.

“When my granddaughter starts dating, he’s going to put on some hockey fight tapes. He’s going to be protective. I feel bad for the guy she’s going to date. He’s protective now, but I can’t imagine.”

Family is what it’s all about.

“Family is very, very important, especially in the athletic world,” Nolan said. “Our families have to be a little bit more understanding. The athletes come home after a bad game; you’ve got to get ready for the next game. The travel, and also the wear and tear on the wives. They’re probably the unsung heroes out of everyone. They’ve got to keep life in order.”

The sacrifices come from the parents too. Chris McCormick recalls when Cody was drafted by the OHL’s Belleville Bulls at age 16.

“My wife and I were really surprised,” McCormick said. “We don’t know anybody there, had never been to Belleville. We’re going to somebody’s house and don’t know the people. And we’re going to drop off this 16-year-old kid. So that was for us, as parents, an experience.”

It ended up working out and put McCormick on the path that eventually led to the National Hockey League.

“My wife and I are really proud that he’s playing in the greatest hockey league in the world,” Chris said of his son. “I’m really glad to see that it hasn’t changed him. He’s still a down-to-earth, fine person.”

Perhaps the best part: “He’s a good father who’s got two children. He’s a really good family man.”

POSTED ON Friday, 01.31.2014 / 3:05 PM
By Chris Ryndak - Sabres.com / BEYOND THE BOARDS

DENVER – The Buffalo Sabres could be without their leading scorer until after the Olympic break.

Left wing Matt Moulson left the team’s game Thursday night in Phoenix with 6:05 to play in the third period after taking a whack with a stick to his upper-body.

At the team hotel in Denver on Friday, Sabres interim coach Ted Nolan said that Moulson could be out until the NHL schedule resumes on Feb. 25. Buffalo plays four more games before the Winter Olympic break.

The Sabres are set to play the Colorado Avalanche on Saturday at the Pepsi Center at 9 p.m. EST.

“It doesn’t look like it’s really too, too serious. If he’s a fast mender, you never know,” Nolan said.

The Sabres are not only losing a valuable scorer, but a leader on the team as well.

Moulson is tops on the team in goals (15) and points (33) through 51 games this season. With Christian Ehrhoff out of the lineup due to an illness on Thursday, Moulson served as an alternate captain in his stead.

“He’s really buying into what we’re doing here and he’s leading the team. He wore an ‘A’ on his sweater last night for that reason,” Nolan said. “Right now, it’s going to be a big loss for us, but like every other team, someone has to step up. There will be an opportunity for someone else.”

The team will look to Brian Flynn to fill Moulson’s shoes on a line with Tyler Ennis and Zemgus Girgensons. Flynn had been up and down the lineup the past few games, playing with Philip Varone and Marcus Foligno as well as with Zenon Konopka and Matt Ellis.

“He can go from the fourth line up to your top line. He’s very versatile so we could look at the possibility of putting him in there for a game or two,” Nolan said.

Drew Stafford will miss his fourth game in a row Saturday night with an upper-body injury. Ehrhoff might be ready to play against Colroado.

The team did not practice Friday morning, but had a stretching session at the hotel. After a late flight to Denver from Phoenix, Nolan talked with the trainers and medical staff and felt it was best to keep the team off the ice.

“Today was one of those days that if we only had a little more time, I’m quite sure we would’ve practiced. But with the team getting in so late and the games so numerous, rest is a little bit more important right now,” Nolan said. “…It’s a normal day except we didn’t hop on the ice for a half hour.”

POSTED ON Thursday, 01.30.2014 / 10:20 AM
By Craig Kanalley - Social Media Manager / BEYOND THE BOARDS
Joe Giacomin with his nephew Marcus Foligno

GLENDALE, AZ -- Close hockey teams are sometimes described as family. After all, it's with the family where it all begins.

Marcus Foligno could tell you that, as could his uncle Joe Giacomin, who was Marcus' choice to accompany him for this year's Sabres "Parent's Trip." The journey kicked off with a cross-country flight escaping the frigid Buffalo temperatures to Arizona on Wednesday. A flight attendant even joked that we were departing the North Pole. It will continue on to Colorado.

"This is a very close family, a tight-knit family, that's been through a lot of ups and downs," Giacomin said of the Foligno's. "A lot of good times, sad times, but they always had one thing: they always had a good work ethic because they had to."

Giacomin -- brother of Marcus' mother Janis, who passed away in 2009 -- said that work ethic has passed down from generation to generation since his grandparents emigrated from Italy. His own uncle, Eddie Giacomin, an NHL Hall of Famer who played for the New York Rangers, made it to the league through hard work.

"Eddie believed that if you were in the NHL, there wasn't a day off. You had to work every day to stay there," Joe said.

Marcus' father, Mike, spent a lot of time around Eddie, especially when dating Janis in high school, and he always admired him for being in the NHL, Joe said. Mike went on to a productive NHL career himself, which included 10 seasons in Buffalo.

Joe Giacomin is just one of several Sabres family members invited to participate in this year's trip. Mike Weber brought his father-in-law, Joe Fanelli.

Fanelli said he's known Mike since he was playing junior hockey for the Ontario Hockey League's Windsor Spitfires.

"He was kind of hanging around the house a little bit; my daughter started to date him, one thing led to another, they became an item. He went to Portland a while, then Rochester. Mike's been in the (Buffalo) system I guess six or seven years now. At 26 now, he's a veteran."

"We've enjoyed our time following Mike, following the team, and the teams he's been with."

In the past, Weber has taken Steve Ott's mother, Deb, on the annual Parent's Trip, as he billeted with the Ott family while playing in Windsor. "I guess if you hang around long enough, you get invited," Fanelli said with a laugh.

Other family members who have made the trip this year are three fathers: Vincent D'Agostini, Chris McCormick and Butch Ott; Matt Moulson's brother, Chris; Zenon Konopka's mentor, Doug Ranch; and several mothers: Diane Ennis, Marie Hodgson, Lisa McBain, Teresa Miller, Debra Stafford, Tyler Myers' step-mother Susan Myers and John Scott's mother-in-law Susan McCabe.

It's only day one, and Giacomin couldn't say enough good things about the experience so far after returning from dinner with the Ott's, Weber, Fanelli, and his nephew.

"So far it's been fabulous. I got to see Marcus. We went to dinner. We laughed, we giggled, we talked about old-school stuff, we talked about the old six teams, we talked about Eddie Giacomin. We talked about Mr. Ott being in the military for many years and the discipline he had to maintain, what he's done with his son. We're just a bunch of old guys talking about stuff we like to do."

Just members of a hockey family, the Sabres family.

POSTED ON Friday, 01.24.2014 / 3:15 PM
By Chris Ryndak - Sabres.com / BEYOND THE BOARDS

After a three-game homestand in which they went 0-2-1, the Buffalo Sabres are looking forward to going on the road. Four of their next five games are away from First Niagara Center.

“Sometimes, you go on the road and it’s good for you when you’re in a little bit of a funk,” forward Matt Moulson said after practice Friday at First Niagara Center. “You can play a lot simpler. There’s no one to impress on the road and you can concentrate on just grinding out wins. We’ll approach it like that, play a simple game and get wins.”

The first game of the road trip takes the Sabres to Columbus, where they’ll take on the red-hot Blue Jackets on Saturday at 7 p.m. at Nationwide Arena. The Blue Jackets are currently riding an eight-game winning streak.

“They’ve been great of late,” Sabres center Cody Hodgson said. “They’ve got a lot of firepower and just the way they play the game is fast. We have to eliminate that.”

The Sabres have scored three goals in each of the past five games, but are only 0-3-2 in that span. While the offense has come around, there have been lapses in the defensive zone that have cost the team points. The players and coaching staff are working to find that proper balance of offense and defense.

“It just comes back to working as a five-man unit,” defenseman Jamie McBain said. “I think we’ve kind of gotten away from that a little bit, whether it’s our net-front coverage or sorting things out -- the teams lately have had very active D – so trying to sort things out down low. But I think it just comes back to us working as a five-man unit and getting the puck up the ice together.”

After the game in Columbus, the Sabres travel to Pittsburgh for a Monday night meeting with the Penguins. They’re back at home against the Washington Capitals on Tuesday before heading out West for a pair of games against the Phoenix Coyotes and the Colorado Avalanche.

Tyler Ennis and Mark Pysyk were absent from practice.

Sabres interim coach Ted Nolan said Ennis was a “little banged up” from the game Thursday night against the Carolina Hurricanes and was given Friday off as a maintenance day. He’s expected to play Saturday night in Columbus.

As for Pysyk, the team announced after practice that he had been assigned to the Rochester Americans of the American Hockey League. Nolan has said that they would like Pysyk to play in the AHL during the Olympic break.

Defenseman Chad Ruhwedel has been called up from the Amerks.

The Sabres spent the first half of practice focusing on their passing. The coaching staff put an emphasis on crisp outlets in the early drills.

Since the schedule allowed for the team to put in a full practice, Nolan wanted to take that time to get back to basics.

“If you look at golfers, they go to driving ranges; baseball players go to batting cages; basketball players go to free throw lines; in hockey, we don’t do the most fundamental thing that we should be able to do on a natural instant, which is pass the puck,” he said. “Every once in a while, you have to go back to school and just do the basic stuff. Today was one of those days.”

26 Matt Moulson – 17 Linus Omark – 21 Drew Stafford
9 Steve Ott – 19 Cody Hodgson – 28 Zemgus Girgensons
82 Marcus Foligno – 84 Philip Varone – 65 Brian Flynn
32 John Scott – 24 Zenon Konopka – 37 Matt Ellis – 23 Ville Leino
Red Non-Contact: 8 Cody McCormick

10 Christian Ehrhoff – 52 Alexander Sulzer
20 Henrik Tallinder – 57 Tyler Myers
6 Mike Weber – 4 Jamie McBain

30 Ryan Miller
1 Jhonas Enroth

POSTED ON Wednesday, 01.22.2014 / 2:36 PM
By Chris Ryndak - Sabres.com / BEYOND THE BOARDS

When Ted Nolan took over as interim head coach of the Buffalo Sabres in November, one of his first tasks was to get the team playing better defensive hockey.

The coaching staff emphasized improving play in the team’s own zone when the goals weren’t coming and have now shifted their focus to producing offense. Now, the team is scoring goals but the defensive zone play has been slipping.

Nolan compared the problems to the Whac-A-Mole arcade game.

“It’s one of those things you keep popping down and then another one pops up. And then you pop that one down and then another one,” he said after practice Wednesday at First Niagara Center. “That’s why training camps are so important and that’s why you go through all that stuff and you try to get a good foundation.”

The Sabres have increased their offensive production lately. The team has scored three goals in each of the past four games, but is 0-2-2 and has lost each game by a score of 4-3.


“Now we just need to connect them both. We had a good meeting with the team today. We talked about execution,” Nolan said. “We’ve gotta execute a little bit better. We can’t have spurts when we go for the goals and we forget about the defensive zone and vice versa. It’s a combination of executing all facets of our game.”

The players are looking for answers themselves on how to put together a complete game at both ends of the rink.

“That’s what we’re working towards, but right now and the way it’s been, we can’t find a way to play a full 60 minutes, to play a consistent effort on both sides of the puck,” defenseman Mike Weber said. “Right now we just have to find a way internally to figure it out. It’s frustrating right now. Pucks weren’t going in and now pucks are going in, but we can’t keep them out. It’s just a difficult time we’re trying to work through.

Mark Pysyk and Steve Ott did not practice with the team.

Nolan revealed that Pysyk has a nagging injury that caused him to miss practice. That injury also happened to play a role in why he did not play in the team’s game against the Florida Panthers on Tuesday.

“He was banged up a little bit last game and that’s one of the reasons why we didn’t play him,” Nolan said.

It’s still possible that Pysyk will be sent down to the American Hockey League to play with the Rochester Americans during the Olympic break. Nolan said he, president of hockey operations Pat LaFontaine and general manager Tim Murray are having ongoing discussions about that. They could come to a decision as soon as Wednesday afternoon.

Ott was given a maintenance day and is expected to play Thursday night when the Sabres host the Carolina Hurricanes at 7 p.m.

The Hurricanes, meanwhile, can’t seem to catch a break when it comes to snowstorms.

They were scheduled to play the Flyers in Philadelphia on Tuesday, but wintry weather conditions forced the NHL to push the game back to Wednesday night.

It’s the second time this month Carolina has had a game postponed due to the weather.

The last game between the Sabres and Hurricanes was supposed to take place on Jan. 7 but had to be rescheduled because of blizzard-like in Buffalo. That game will now be played on Feb. 25 at 7 p.m.

The Sabres players know they have an opportunity to jump on the Hurricanes once the puck drops in their next match Thursday night.

“We have to take advantage of it now because they’re going to be playing a back-to-back game,” Sabres forward Marcus Foligno said. “Unfortunately for them, they don’t have good luck with snow storms. It’s something where we had Florida on a back-to-back and we needed to take advantage of that and we didn’t. We have to be ready for Carolina.”

26 Matt Moulson – 63 Tyler Ennis – 21 Drew Stafford
28 Zemgus Girgensons – 19 Cody Hodgson – 23 Ville Leino
82 Marcus Foligno – 65 Brian Flynn – 12 Kevin Porter
32 John Scott – 24 Zenon Konopka – 37 Matt Ellis – 17 Linus Omark
Red Non-Contact: 8 Cody McCormick

10 Christian Ehrhoff – 6 Mike Weber
20 Henrik Tallinder – 57 Tyler Myers
44 Brayden McNabb – 4 Jamie McBain
52 Alexander Sulzer

30 Ryan Miller
1 Jhonas Enroth

POSTED ON Monday, 01.20.2014 / 2:12 PM
By Chris Ryndak - Sabres.com / BEYOND THE BOARDS

Linus Omark has been waiting for his opportunity to get back into the Buffalo Sabres lineup. It may come Tuesday night against the Florida Panthers.

Omark skated on the second line with center Cody Hodgson and left wing Steve Ott at practice Monday morning at First Niagara Center. He’s been a healthy scratch the past two games and is looking for his first goal of the season. In nine games with the Sabres, he has one assist.

“Both Cody and Ott are really good players, so then I have to produce,” he said. “It’s an opportunity if I’m going to play with those guys.”


He wasn’t sure if he’ll be in the lineup against Panthers but is working with the mindset that he will be.

“Of course you always want to play but we’ll see what happens now if I’m going to play next game or not," he said. "I have tried to work hard in practice and off-ice, so I’m prepared if I play.”

Sabres interim coach Ted Nolan said he’ll make a decision on the roster after the team’s morning skate on Tuesday.

“We’ll give it another day to think about but I liked the way [Omark] practiced today,” he said.


Ville Leino, who played with Hodgson and Ott on Saturday, practiced at right wing on the fourth line with John Scott and Matt Ellis.

“We’re looking for people that want to compete and want to work. It doesn’t matter what your skill level [is]. Skill is nothing with no will,” Nolan said. “So we have to get [Leino] competing at a certain level and some days he shows it and some days he doesn’t.”

Henrik Tallinder and Kevin Porter are closer to returning. Tallinder’s been out since New Year’s Eve with an upper-body injury while Porter has missed 11 games with a lower-body injury.

“Tallidner is pretty close so he’ll probably be a game-time decision,” Nolan said.

Porter said he’s feeling better every day and didn’t rule out the possibility of being ready for Florida.

“Hopefully in the next couple days,” he said. “I’m not sure. I still need to talk to the training staff and the coaches and see what they say.”


The practice on Monday marked his first time skating with the team in a regular jersey. He’d been skating in a red jersey, signaling no contact.

Porter practiced with Zenon Konopka as extra forwards. Konopka has committed three minor penalties in the past three games and the opposing power play has scored each time Konopka has been in the box. He’ll likely be a healthy scratch against the Panthers.


“He’s going to have to wait. If you’re going to change things, it can’t just be for a chosen few. It has to be for everybody and those penalties, they could be avoided,” Nolan said. “We can’t afford to take bad penalties. We can’t afford to [make] too many turnovers in a game. They’re going to kill us every time.

So in order for us to show the young guys what it takes to try to win on a consistent basis, those are the types of things we have to do.”

Five Sabres players had their heads shaved after practice in the First Niagara Center atrium as part of the “Goin’ Bald For Bucks” campaign. The players are raising money to support critical research and cancer care programs at Roswell Park Cancer Institute. They were surrounded by students from several schools in the area.

Cody Hodgson, who had his head shaved by goaltender Ryan Miller, will match every dollar donated to the Sabres “Goin’ Bald For Bucks” page. He also grew his hair out for about a month in anticipation of the event.

“I was going to get it cut within that week and then they asked, and I was like, ‘It would be much better if I let it grow a little bit,’” he said afterward. “That’s actually the longest my hair’s ever been. It feels kind of weird, really airy without it. It’ll probably look better though than that big afro.”

Hodgson said that Mike Weber was the first player to commit to shaving his head and he agreed soon after. Mark Pysyk, Brayden McNabb and Alexander Sulzer also had their heads shaved. Miller, Steve Ott, Brian Flynn, Drew Stafford and John Scott played the role of barbers.

Donations can be made at BaldForBucks.org. The Sabres donation page can be found here. Donations will be accepted on the website through Friday.

26 Matt Moulson – 63 Tyler Ennis – 21 Drew Stafford
9 Steve Ott – 19 Cody Hodgson – 17 Linus Omark
82 Marcus Foligno – 65 Brian Flynn – 28 Zemgus Girgensons
32 John Scott – 37 Matt Ellis – 23 Ville Leino
12 Kevin Porter – 24 Zenon Konopka
Red Non-Contact: 8 Cody McCormick

10 Christian Ehrhoff – 3 Mark Pysyk
6 Mike Weber – 57 Tyler Myers
44 Brayden McNabb – 4 Jamie McBain
20 Henrik Tallinder – 52 Alexander Sulzer .

30 Ryan Miller
1 Jhonas Enroth

POSTED ON Friday, 01.17.2014 / 2:56 PM
By Chris Ryndak - Sabres.com / BEYOND THE BOARDS

Marcus Foligno missed the Buffalo Sabres’ last game against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Wednesday due to an injury, but was a full participant in practice Friday with at First Niagara Center.

He said he’ll be ready to go Saturday night against the Columbus Blue Jackets when the two teams meet at 7 p.m.

“[It was] a reoccurring injury that just kind of got pinched in the game against Philly [on Tuesday] and it’s all better now,” he said. “The trainers looked after me and it’s something where you just needed to rest it and I’m looking forward to getting back at it tomorrow.”


Some other familiar faces rejoined the Buffalo Sabres for practice. Henrik Tallinder and Kevin Porter skated with the team.

Tallinder has missed six games with an upper-body injury. He sustained the injury on his first shift of the team’s game against the Washington Capitals on Dec. 29. He ended up playing 21:05 in the game.

“Because you’re so pumped with adrenaline, you don’t really feel it when you’re playing. It’s more a couple hours after the game when everything’s cooling down, that’s when you feel the injury,” he said.

Tallinder practiced with the team the morning they left for their next game in Winnipeg, but ended up not making the trip.

“We thought it was just a bone bruise and I couldn’t even hold my stick,” he said. “So we took a look at the x-ray again and they could spot a little crack in there.”

Tallinder said he won’t be ready for Buffalo’s home game Saturday against the Columbus Blue Jackets but hopes to play next week.


Porter and Cody McCormick skated in red non-contact jerseys. Nolan said they’re both still at least a week away from playing.

Porter has been out since Dec. 23 with a lower-body injury. McCormick last played 12 games ago, on Dec. 17.

Since Tallinder, Porter and McCormick are on injured reserve, the organization would need to make roster moves in order to activate them for game action with the Sabres.

Drew Stafford had missed four games with an upper-body injury, but played against Toronto. He was put on the top line with Matt Moulson and Tyler Ennis to start the game.


Zemgus Girgensons, who had been playing on the right wing with Ennis and Moulson skated with Ville Leino and Brian Flynn on the third line.

“Whatever line Girgensons plays with, I think you’re going to get the same effort. Whether he’s with Ennis or with Flynn or whoever’s he with, he’s going to do the same thing,” Nolan said. “With Drew, we just need a little bit more from him.”

When Matt D’Agostini went down with an upper-body injury, the coaching staff was forced to juggle the lines a bit. Nolan said D’Agostini will miss about a week.


Stafford finished the game with 19:46 of ice time and two shots on goal.

“It was good to get back in. It was a little tough we lost a forward right away, double-shifting a couple times and we were rolling three lines,” Stafford said. “I was kind of thrown right into the fire. They’re a pretty physical team so it was a pretty good test. I felt all right. Nice to have a day to recover and looking forward having a good one tomorrow.”

26 Matt Moulson – 63 Tyler Ennis – 21 Drew Stafford
9 Steve Ott – 19 Cody Hodgson – 23 Ville Leino
82 Marcus Foligno – 65 Brian Flynn – 28 Zemgus Girgensons
32 John Scott / 17 Linus Omark – 24 Zenon Konopka – 37 Matt Ellis
Red Non-Contact: 8 Cody McCormick – 12 Kevin Porter

10 Christian Ehrhoff – 3 Mark Pysyk
6 Mike Weber – 57 Tyler Myers
44 Brayden McNabb – 4 Jamie McBain
20 Henrik Tallinder – 52 Alexander Sulzer

30 Ryan Miller
1 Jhonas Enroth

POSTED ON Monday, 01.13.2014 / 2:29 PM
By Chris Ryndak - Sabres.com / BEYOND THE BOARDS

After Ville Leino and Cody Hodgson made their returns to the Buffalo Sabres lineup on Sunday, at least one more player is close to making a comeback.

Drew Stafford skated with the team Monday morning at First Niagara Center for the first time since sustaining an upper-body injury against the Minnesota Wild on New Year’s Day. He skated in a red non-contact jersey but thinks he might be able to play soon.

“It’s more [of a] day-to-day kind of thing. I’ve been feeling really good the last couple days,” Stafford said. “I had a really long day today, hard working day today. We’ll see how it responds later today and tomorrow morning. That’s pretty much where we’re at.”


Cody McCormick, also in a red non-contact jersey, isn’t as close to coming off injured reserve as Stafford may be, but is happy to be back on the ice as a part of a team practice. He’s missed 11 games with an upper-body injury. He made his return to practice on Saturday.

“There’s still time, but getting back with the guys and being able to participate in practices, it’s a welcome change to what I was doing,” McCormick said. “You want to practice with the guys, you want to be around the guys and when you’re hurt, you’re doing the things on the side and working to get back into practice. It feels good to get out there.”

Henrik Tallinder and Kevin Porter, who are also on injured reserve, have been skating on their own and interim coach Ted Nolan said that they, like McCormick, will still be out for a little while longer.

Steve Ott was given a maintenance day and did not practice. John Scott, a healthy scratch in the team’s 2-1 shootout win in Washington on Sunday, took Ott’s spot on a line with Cody Hodgson and Matt D’Agostini.

The Sabres announced late Sunday night that 19-year-old center Mikhail Grigorenko had decided to accept his assignment to the Quebec Remparts of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.

“We can’t control what people do and what they say, but we certainly can control how we’re going to try to run this organization and what we feel is necessary for the development of young players,” Nolan said. “The tail can’t wag the dog. The dog wags the tail.

“So we feel as an organization, it’s best for him to develop in junior hockey and that’s not taking anything away from him. He’s got some skills and he’s got some ability, but in order for him to play at this level, we just need a little bit more.”

With Tallinder out with an upper-body injury and Tyler Myers serving a three-game suspension, the Sabres coaching staff has been rotating the second “A.” Mike Weber served as an alternate captain on Thursday against Florida and the letter was given to Matt Moulson for the game on Sunday.


“It’s an honor to have a letter on your jersey,” Mouslon said. “I don’t think it changes the way you act or the things I would do. Who knows how long I’ll have it for, but it is always an honor to be looked upon as a leader.”

In his last 10 games, Ryan Miller has a save percentage of .950. That’s the best save percentage he’s posted in any 10-game stretch of his career.

He made a highlight-reel save with the blade of his stick on Mikhail Grabovski with 2:14 to play in the third period that Nolan called “one for the ages.”

After the game, Nolan said he was looking down to see which line to call out next and had to watch the save on replay.

“I was looking down at my papers for the next line combination and the guys said I missed the save of the year,” Nolan said Sunday night.

How would Nolan describe Miller’s play of late?

“Out of this world, maybe,” he said. “I don’t know. His last two starts and every game he’s played here since I’ve been here have been outstanding.”


Miller’s teammates have noticed his strong play all season.

“He’s one of the best goalies in the world and sometimes when you do have breakdowns, he’s obviously there to bail you out much like he’s done all year,” Moulson said. “You have a world-class goalie like that, I think it instills a little more confidence in the team. He’s been playing tremendous.”

The win over the Capitals marked the team’s first win on the road since Nov. 5 in San Jose. They snapped an 11-game losing streak away from First Niagara Center.

“It’s nice to win any time, but I didn’t realize we didn’t win on the road for that long,” Nolan, who was hired on Nov. 13, said. “The guys sure knew. It’s not where we won, but how we won last night.

“I thought it was a real total team effort from the 20th guy to our goaltenders, right through the lineup, everybody contributed. Since I’ve been here, it was probably the best win as a team that we had.”


The Sabres next take on the Philadelphia Flyers at home on Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. The game will be broadcast on NBCSN. After the game, Buffalo will travel to Toronto for a Wednesday night match against the Maple Leafs at 7:30 p.m.

26 Matt Moulson – 63 Tyler Ennis – 28 Zemgus Girgensons
32 John Scott – 19 Cody Hodgson – 27 Matt D’Agostini
17 Linus Omark – 23 Ville Leino – 65 Brian Flynn
82 Marcus Foligno – 24 Zenon Konopka – 37 Matt Ellis

10 Christian Ehrhoff – 3 Mark Pysyk
6 Mike Weber – 52 Alexander Sulzer
44 Brayden McNabb – 4 Jamie McBain
57 Tyler Myers

30 Ryan Miller
1 Jhonas Enroth

POSTED ON Saturday, 01.11.2014 / 2:51 PM
By Chris Ryndak - Sabres.com / BEYOND THE BOARDS

Buffalo Sabres interim coach Ted Nolan broke the news after the team's practice Saturday morning at Riverside Ice Arena that the organization has loaned rookie center Mikhail Grigorenko back to the Quebec Remparts of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.

Nolan said he was part of the discussions along with president of hockey operations Pat LaFontaine and new general manager Tim Murray. He also said they believe the move is the best thing for Grigorenko’s long-term success.

“We’re not looking at what he can do for us now. We’re looking at what he can do for us down the road and when he develops. He’s only 19,” Nolan said. “…Development is crucial. In talking with Tim and Pat, that’s what we really want to do, is develop.”

After speaking with Grigorenko, Nolan hopes the young center will see playing in the QMJHL as a good opportunity.

“He was a little bit upset, I would imagine, but this is non-negotiable,” Nolan said. “It’s one of those things that has to be done.”

Cody Hodgson and Ville Leino were full participants in the Buffalo Sabres’ practice at Riverside Ice Arena on Saturday and are expected to play Sunday afternoon against the Washington Capitals at Verizon Center.

Hodgson has missed the past eight games with an upper-body injury and was officially activated from injured reserve after practice.

“I’m really excited. It’s great,” Hodgson said. “The team’s been getting a lot of points, especially at home, so it’s good to watch and learn some things about the team and how I can fit in a little better.”

Leino has been out for three games with a lower-lower body injury.

“You don’t want players to get hurt, but once in awhile when they do and they have to rest their bodies, they come back with some renewed energy,” Sabres interim coach Ted Nolan said. “They seem both ready to go today.”

With Hodgson and Leino ready to return, the Sabres returned center Johan Larsson to the Rochester Americans of the American Hockey League.

“He played really well for us,” Nolan said. “He’s going to be a good player for us but we just need him to get on a consistent basis.”

Sporting a red non-contact jersey, center Cody McCormick practiced with the team for the first time since sustaining an upper-body injury on Dec. 17. He’s currently on injured reserve and has missed the past 10 games.

Kevin Porter, Drew Stafford and Henrik Tallinder, the other players who are on injured reserve, skated on their own before the team hit the ice.

Defenseman Brayden McNabb was also back with the team after being sent down Friday to play a game with the Amerks.

Ryan Miller is looking forward to getting back between the pipes for Buffalo. Jhonas Enroth was supposed to start Tuesday night against the Carolina Hurricanes, but when that game was postponed to Feb. 25 due to inclement weather, Enroth started the team’s next game on Thursday against Florida.

Miller hasn’t played since Jan. 4.

“That was a little strange. It’s kind of why I wanted to get some work in today,” Miller said. “I was actually trying to find some ice yesterday and couldn’t find anything. A little too much time around the house, just trying to get everything going and get ready for an afternoon game.

[It was] kind of an odd week for me, but these are things you prepare for and you look ahead for and just be ready to go.”

Nolan said he has not yet had any direct conversations with Murray about removing the interim tag from his title. For now, he’s focused on his day-to-day duties of coaching the team.

“Like I’ve mentioned before, one of these days, I hope it [is lifted], but it’s not one of my things I’m thinking about,” Nolan said. “It’s trying to get this team better right now and coaching this team to the best of my ability. Whatever happens down the road will happen and I feel confident in my ability, but we’ll see.”

The Sabres announced Thursday morning that they had hired Murray and in the few days he’s gotten to know him, Nolan said he’s been impressed by the new boss.

“I really like him. He’s direct. He knows people, he knows hockey players,” Nolan said. “As a coach, you want a person who’s going to load your arsenal up with some good talent. The only thing we have to do down the road is just open the gate and let them go.”

26 Matt Moulson – 63 Tyler Ennis – 28 Zemgus Girgensons
9 Steve Ott - 19 Cody Hodgson – 27 Matt D’Agostini
23 Ville Leino – 65 Brian Flynn – 17 Linus Omark
82 Marcus Foligno – 24 Zenon Konopka – 37 Matt Ellis – 32 John Scott

10 Christian Ehrhoff – 3 Mark Pysyk
6 Mike Weber – 52 Alexander Sulzer
44 Brayden McNabb – 4 Jamie McBain
57 Tyler Myers

30 Ryan Miller
1 Jhonas Enroth

POSTED ON Wednesday, 01.08.2014 / 3:38 PM
By Chris Ryndak - Sabres.com / BEYOND THE BOARDS

The Buffalo Sabres will be without Tyler Myers for the next three games. The defenseman received a two-minute penalty on Saturday for illegally checking New Jersey Devils forward Dainius Zubrus in the head. The NHL Department of Player Safety then scheduled a phone hearing with Myers for Monday and later announced that they had handed down a three-game suspension.

He received two for the hit and an extra game for being a repeat offender. He was suspended three games in March 2012 for boarding.

Initially, Myers didn’t think he would receive three games this time around.

“I was pretty surprised but there was a conversation after the phone call where he explained that it doesn’t matter what type of hit it is anymore. If there’s any contact to the head, it’s going to be 2-5 games,” he said after practice Wednesday at First Niagara Center.

“I liked the fact that on the phone call that everyone recognized that it wasn’t my intention to target his head. After I saw the video, it’s clear that there is contact to the head. Fortunately he’s OK and came back into the game and there are no problems there.”


Buffalo will also be without Henrik Tallinder on Thursday when the Florida Panthers come to town.. Myers plays an average of 21:46 per night, second on the team. Tallinder is sixth, playing 19:20 each night on average, so other defensemen will have to play bigger roles for the Sabres.

Defenseman Mike Weber said they’ll have to look down the lineup to play key minutes on the penalty kill as well.

“Those are two guys that play a lot of minutes so guys are going to have to step up and play those minutes,” Weber said. “I think with that, stepping up in the right situation, you’re not going to replace a [Myers] with the offensive abilities that he has. Someone’s got to step up and just play solid minutes."

Center Cody Hodgson skated with the team for the first time since sustaining an upper-body injury on Dec. 19 albeit in a red non-contact jersey.

Sabres interim coach Ted Nolan hopes Hodgson will be able to return to the lineup soon.

“Right now it’s up to Cody. We’re going to see how he feels,” Nolan said. “Today was the first day he practiced with the team. He said he felt great some hopefully he feels like that for a couple days in a row. And if he does that then hopefully we’ll get him in.”

Ville Leino, who has missed two games with a lower-body injury. “Also skated in a non-contact jersey and the Sabres staff will continue to evaluate in throughout the week.

The Sabres were back on the ice after having their game Tuesday night against the Carolina Hurricanes postponed due to incliment weather.

"You don’t want to put anyone in danger. Fans coming to the game, the workers coming to the arena to work, all those [people]," Nolan said. "The game of hockey is nice to watch, but we need to make sure we do it where everybody can get there safely."

A make-up date as yet to be announced.

Jhonas Enroth was expected to start that game and Nolan said he will play Thursday night against Florida.

Ryan Miller will have some company at the Winter Olympics in Sochi next month. Miller was named to Team USA on New Year’s Day and on Tuesday, three of his teammates were announced to national rosters.

Tallinder and Enroth will represent Sweden. Zemgus Girgensons will play for Team Latvia under the guidance of Ted Nolan, who also coaches the Latvian team.


Miller was especially happy to hear his fellow netminder had been named to the Swedish team and said he would look forward to a potential goaltending duel against Enroth and Sweden.

“It’d be cool. It’d be definitely unique,” Miller said. “It’s not something many teams that I’ve seen have a chance to do. We’ll see how it works out, but it’d be nice.”

26 Matt Moulson – 63 Tyler Ennis – 28 Zemgus Girgensons
9 Steve Ott – 22 Johan Larsson – 27 Matt D’Agostini
17 Linus Omark – 65 Brian Flynn – 82 Marcus Foligno
32 John Scott – 24 Zenon Konopka – 37 Matt Ellis
Red (Non-Contact) Jerseys: 23 Ville Leino – 19 Cody Hodgson

10 Christian Ehrhoff – 3 Mark Pysyk
44 Brayden McNabb – 4 Jamie McBain
6 Mike Weber – 52 Alexander Sulzer
57 Tyler Myers

30 Ryan Miller
1 Jhonas Enroth