John Scott's presence isn't always intimidating. ©2013, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

New Sabres tough guy Scott ready to protect teammates: ‘I’ll take care of it’

BUFFALO – John Scott, the stay-at-home Michigan Tech University defenseman, had no future playing big league hockey. Ten years ago, the NHL “really wasn’t on my radar at all,” the Sabres’ new enforcer said.

Scott was merely an average NCAA player. His hockey life would expire with his eligibility.

But Scott hadn’t yet grasped his 6-foot-8 stature could transform him into an NHL prospect. He possessed size, a precious commodity.

“My coach at Tech,” Scott ... Read the full article

Mikhail Grigorenko's skills have been wowing teammates. ©2013, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Sabres’ Ruff waiting to determine Grigorenko’s roster status

BUFFALO – Coach Lindy Ruff likely won’t reveal the Sabres’ plans for first-round pick Mikhail Grigorenko until Friday, when teams must have their rosters set by 3 p.m.

Still, questions about Grigorenko’s status will be asked all week.

So, Lindy, will he receive the five-game trial available for junior players?

“It’s too early to say,” Ruff said this afternoon following practice inside the First Niagara Center. “He had a good scrimmage (Monday). He had a ... Read the full article

Adam Pardy played only 36 games last season. ©2013, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Sabres newcomer Pardy poised to earn spot on stacked blue line

BUFFALO – Adam Pardy couldn’t handle his difficult situation in Dallas last season. Becoming a spare part and clashing with his coach wore the Sabres’ new defenseman down mentally. Going to the rink every day became tough.

Following the season, Pardy felt “embarrassed for myself as a player, as a person,” he said. The 28-year-old had sat 44 times as a healthy scratch and even went back to the minors briefly. The negative experience gnawed ... Read the full article

The Sabres invited Joe Finley to training camp last season. ©2013, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Sabres disappointed to lose Finley on waivers

BUFFALO – The New York Islanders claimed hulking Rochester Americans defenseman Joe Finley, who played five games with the Sabres last season, off waivers Monday.

“Actually, it was disappointing, but I understand it,” Sabres general manager Darcy Regier said Monday inside the First Niagara Center following an intrasquad scrimmage. “(Isles general manager) Garth Snow called me just before waiver time to give me a courtesy call to let me know they were going to take ... Read the full article

Joe Finley's hulking size makes him an intimidating presence. ©2013, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Report: Isles claim Finley off waivers from Sabres

BUFFALO – The New York Islanders claimed Rochester Americans defenseman Joe Finley off waivers today, according to Newsday’s Arthur Staple.

Finley, a training camp invite last season, played five games with the Sabres in 2011-12, compiling 12 penalty minutes and a minus-3 rating.

The 6-foot-8, 249-pound American first earned an AHL contract, then a two-way deal after impressing the Sabres.

Finley’s size earned him a cult following among Sabres and Amerks supporters, with fans ... Read the full article

Jochen Hecht left his family to play at home in Germany briefly. ©2013, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Sabres’ Hecht thrilled about return: ‘Everything worked out’

BUFFALO – Nine months earlier, in the same spot he stood smiling Sunday, Jochen Hecht had fought back tears discussing what appeared to be the end of his long Sabres career.

Back then, concussions – three in 10 months and two in five, including a serious, season-ending one last January – had derailed the German’s career. He was turning 35 years old and entering free agency following a 22-game season.

The chances of the Sabres ... Read the full article

Mikhail Grigorenko (right) "doesn't look like a junior player," coach Lindy Ruff said. ©2013, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Ruff wants Grigorenko’s play to force Sabres to keep him

BUFFALO – About 10 minutes into his first NHL practice, Mikhail Grigorenko calmed down, channeled his nervous energy and began showcasing the many talents that could land the 18-year-old in the Sabres’ opening-day lineup next week.

The slick Russian center enjoyed a solid showing on Sunday, the first day of training camp and the lockout-shortened 2012-13 season.

But, as Lindy Ruff said, “practice drills are one thing.” Competition drills, where Grigorenko can utilize his 6-foot-3, ... Read the full article

Mikhail Grigorenko skated against NHL competition for the first time this morning. ©2013, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

All eyes on Sabres prospect Grigorenko as training camp begins

BUFFALO – Mikhail Grigorenko’s many talents – the passing and playmaking ability, the long strides – had caught everyone’s eye just a few minutes into the Sabres’ first training camp session this morning.

Most observers believe the top prospect will enjoy a long NHL career.

But when will the slick 18-year-old center’s big league tenure start? Will he be in the Sabres’ opening-day lineup next Sunday?

Stay tuned. The Sabres will be giving the Russian, ... Read the full article

Drew Stafford and the Sabres open the season next Sunday at home against the Philadelphia Flyers. ©2013, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Sabres’ 48-game schedule will be dizzying

BUFFALO – Get ready for a hectic pace, Sabres fans.

The team’s lockout-shortened 48-game, conference-only 2012-13 schedule will be completed in only 97 days.

The slate, which starts with an afternoon tilt next Sunday against the Philadelphia Flyers inside the First Niagara Center, features some odd quirks and new twists.

With 10 of their final 14 games at home, including the April 26 season finale against the New York Islanders, the Sabres could have a ... Read the full article

The Sabres said in June prospect Mikhail Grigorenko would have a chance at an NHL roster spot. ©2013, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Roster battles promise to make Sabres camp interesting

BUFFALO – Thanks to the agonizingly long NHL lockout, 281 days have passed since the Sabres last played a game. Thankfully, the team will finally start an abbreviated training camp today. The season opens in just a week.

So what’s changed in the last nine months? How’s this group different from the high-priced, ninth-place team that was built to win the Stanley Cup in 2011-12?

The Sabres got tougher, acquiring Steve Ott to be the ... Read the full article