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September, 2012 Monthly archive
Marcus Foligno established himself as a top NHL talent late last season. ©2012, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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BUFFALO – They’re back for another unexpected AHL run, kicked to the minors again by the NHL lockout.

Marcus Foligno dominated at times during his late-season recall, compiling six goals and 13 points in a rollicking 12-game stretch. By mid-March, the winger had become a star and a Sabres fan favorite.

Center Cody Hodgson, meanwhile, established himself as a regular last year, scoring 19 goals while setting a league record for road appearances.

Both would be virtual locks to make the big club …

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Thomas Vanek is only considering playing in his native Austria. ©2012, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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AMHERST – Right now, Thomas Vanek’s a bit torn. Like the other Sabres, the winger simply wants to play NHL games. But Vanek might have the most intriguing option of any locked-out player.

Vanek can return home to play in his native Austria, where he’s a national hero. The 28-year-old has never played professionally at home. He left for North America 14 years ago.

His arrival would be a huge deal.

“It would be a change. It would be definitely fun,” Vanek said …

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Jason Pominville plans to play an exhibition game tonight in Quebec. ©2012, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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AMHERST – Following another informal skate Wednesday, Jason Pominville packed up his hockey equipment, hopped in the car and drove home seven hours to Montreal.

It’s that hard for the locked out NHL players to find a game these days.

The Sabres captain said he’ll play tonight in the Quebec Caravan League, a charity exhibition series pitting players from Montreal against others from around the province. The contests should resemble intense shinny, he said.

His teammates include Pittsburgh goalie Marc-Andre Fleury and Montreal …

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Mark Mancari's new AHL contract will allow him to bypass waivers. ©2012, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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BUFFALO – The Rochester Americans have signed five players under two-way contracts to AHL deals.

The separate contracts allowed the players – goalie Dave Leggio, defensemen T.J. Brennan, Joe Finley and Drew Schiestel and winger Mark Mancari – to bypass waivers from the Sabres to the minors during a special period the NHL created earlier this month prior to the lockout.

The Amerks begin training camp later this week.

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Tyler Ennis can't wait to begin playing in Switzerland. ©2012, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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BUFFALO – Tyler Ennis couldn’t pass up what he called a “perfect opportunity.”

Instead of skating daily at a local rink waiting for the NHL lockout to end, the slick Sabres center is heading to Switzerland to play for the SCL Tigers, a team in the country’s top hockey division, National League A. Minnesota defenseman Jared Spurgeon, Ennis’ best friend, will be joining him.

“I have a good opportunity to stay in game shape,” Ennis told the Times Herald. “It’s great hockey …

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©2012
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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BUFFALO – The NHL lockout has forced the cancellation of all preseason games through Sept. 30, knocking four of the Sabres’ seven contests off the slate.

Sabres games canceled are: Monday at Montreal; home Wednesday against Boston; home Sept. 28 against Toronto; Sept. 29 at Toronto.

The Sabres plan to contact ticket holders with refund information for the canceled First Niagara Center games.

The NHL’s third lockout since 1994 began Sunday.

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Jordan Leopold insists the locked-out players have hope. ©2012, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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AMHERST – Now they’re officially on their own, locked out and barred from any contact with the organization. About 12 Buffalo Sabres regulars skated with some prospects Monday morning inside the Northtown Center, the first of possibly dozens of practices without a regular coaching staff.

The team employees who had recently assisted with informal skates have left. Other than the Sabres logo on their jerseys, something the players could soon ditch, the symbol has almost vanished.

The cold, dark reality of the …

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Tyler Ennis became a top scorer after switching to center last season. ©2012, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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BUFFALO – The eight goals and 19 points Tyler Ennis generated over a rollicking 12-game stretch late last season could just be a harbinger, he believes. The center’s March exploits might’ve signaled the first signs of his impending superstardom.

“I think I’m ready to explode,” Ennis said Sunday, a day after signing a two-year, $5.625 million contract hours before the NHL lockout started.

Of course, Ennis and the Sabres can’t even play right now.

Instead of prepping for training camp this week, Ennis …

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©2012
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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BUFFALO – The Sabres finally signed restricted free agent Tyler Ennis on Saturday, hours before the NHL locked out the players at midnight.

When the slick center will begin earning his two-year, $5.625 million contract is unclear. With no negotiations ongoing, the work stoppage could be a long one.

As 12 a.m. loomed, teams went on last-minute spending sprees, awarding more than $61 million in new contracts.

Ennis’ short deal – something Sabres general manager Darcy Regier had said was likely – rewards …

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Robyn Regehr left a recent meeting with NHL executives disappointed. ©2012, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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AMHERST – Ryan Miller first noticed the ominous signs of another NHL lockout last year when the NBA and NFL negotiated new labor deals favorable to ownership. Right away, the Buffalo Sabres goalie knew “hockey would take a crack at” getting money back from the players.

For Robyn Regehr, the cold reality of a work stoppage hit him last week in New York during a meeting at the league offices with Players’ Association executive director Donald Fehr, commissioner Gary Bettman and …

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