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Beyond The Boards


Tuesday, 08.30.2011 / 4:12 PM ET
By Kevin Snow - (@kwsnow) / BEYOND THE BOARDS
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Greetings from my spacious cubicle on the suite level of First Niagara Center. Still trying to get used to the name, but I like how it sounds. The First Niagara colors are a perfect fit with the Sabres, and I’m looking forward to seeing them incorporated with everything in the building.

Just wanted to pass along a few things to you this week as we head towards the final weekend of summer:

Jerome Gauthier-Leduc (Photo: Getty Images)
-You may have noticed that it’s already “game on!” in the Canadian Hockey League. The QMJHL kicked off their pre-season schedule on August 19, and they’ll drop the puck tonight in Swift Current, Sask., to open the WHL exhibition season. The OHL gets their pre-season underway this Friday in London, Ont. Why so early you ask? According to CHL commissioner David Branch, it’s all about getting the players settled in their respective cities before the school year begins.

“The main factor for CHL teams starting early is to accommodate the academic interests of our players,” Branch explained in an email to me last night. “High school commences after Labor Day in most instances for the WHL and OHL, and earlier in Quebec. That is the reason their camps started over one week ago.”

Jerome Gauthier-Leduc, Buffalo’s third-round selection in the 2010 Entry Draft, already has four points (1+3) and is a plus-4 in three games for the Rimouski Oceanic. Three of Gauthier-Leduc’s four points came in a 4-3 win over Baie-Comeau last Saturday when he tallied a goal and two assists.

New 100 level countertops
New 100 level signage
-Arena renovations continue to move along at a breakneck speed. They are aiming to have all the redesigned concession stands ready for the Keith Urban concert on September 8, and any other smaller projects completed in time for hockey season.

Here are two photos I took today while wandering the concourse. The first shows the new stainless steel countertops on the freshly-painted blue and gold pillars in the 100 Level (ignore the red paint; that will be replaced by gold).

The other features the new lettering on the satellite Sabres Store location next to section 101. Another project that they are hoping to have completed in time for the regular season is the addition of beverage shelves and TV’s in the bathrooms.

-An announcement of Buffalo’s roster for the Traverse City Prospects Tournament is expected to be made in the next few days. I’ll be on hand in Michigan for all five days of the tournament, providing daily features and in-game Twitter updates. Keep watching for more information. The Sabres open the tournament against Minnesota on Saturday, September 10 at 3:30 p.m.

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