Drew Schiestel made only three appearances with Rochester this season. ©2012, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Amerks send former top defense prospect Schiestel to ECHL

BUFFALO – Defenseman Drew Schiestel, a former second-round pick and AHL All-Star who was once on the verge of a recall to the Sabres, has been assigned from the AHL to the ECHL.

The Rochester Americans also sent defenseman Matt MacKenzie to the Greenville Road Warriors today.

The 23-year-old Schiestel, the 59th overall pick in 2007, earned an AHL All-Star berth with the Portland Pirates in 2010-11 and was thought to be the ... Read the full article

Jaroslav Spacek signed with Montreal in 2009 after three seasons with the Sabres. ©2012, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Former Sabres defenseman Spacek retires from NHL

BUFFALO – Former Sabres defenseman Jaroslav Spacek has retired from the NHL after 13 seasons, according to a report in his native Czech Republic.

The 38-year-old played three seasons with the Sabres, compiling 22 goals, 98 points and a plus-29 rating in 205 games from 2006-09.

Following a slow acclimation after signing as a free agent from Edmonton, Spacek became an offensive threat, a minute-muncher and a team leader.

Spacek had nine goals ... Read the full article

Mike Weber's the eighth Sabre to sign a European contract. ©2012, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Sabres’ Weber signs with Norwegian club

BUFFALO – Sabres defenseman Mike Weber has signed a contract to play with a Norwegian team in Lorenskog during the NHL lockout, according to a report.

Weber’s the eighth Sabre to sign overseas since the work stoppage began 62 days ago.

Defenseman Christian Ehrhoff, center Tyler Ennis, goalie Jhonas Enroth, defensemen Tyler Myers, Andrej Sekera and Alexander Sulzer and winger Thomas Vanek all signed European deals earlier. Vanek recently returned home.

The 24-year-old Weber... Read the full article

Jordan Leopold thinks last week's CBA negotiations restored some optimism to the process. ©2012, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Sabres players see CBA negotiations as one-sided

AMHERST – What the heck happens now? NHL labor talks finally appeared to be turning a corner last week, with a string of “secret” marathon negotiating sessions raising optimism a deal could be struck in the near future.

Both sides remained tight-lipped. They plowed through session and after session.

Then the collective bargaining agreement talks crumbled again. Sniping between the NHL and the Players’ Association has resumed.

“I think last week with us talking brought ... Read the full article

Rick Jeanneret's induction into the Sabres' Hall of Fame kicked off a string of honors, including today's, the Hockey Hall of Fame's Foster Hewitt Memorial Award. ©2012, Olean Times Herald

Sabres’ Jeanneret still going strong as Hall honor arrives

BUFFALO – The scene plays out just about each time Rick Jeanneret walks around in public. Inevitably, fans stop the Sabres’ legendary announcer and tell him how much they enjoy the team’s broadcast.

Then they make a short plea to the play-by-play veteran, whose enthusiasm and passionate calls have made him a local icon.

“The other thing they say is, ‘Please don’t retire,’” Jeanneret, who will be honored by the Hockey Hall of Fame on ... Read the full article

Thomas Vanek compiled five goals and 15 points in 11 Austrian appearances. ©2012, Christian Bruna, www.christianbruna.at

Sabres’ Vanek happy with short Austrian stint

AMHERST – Having grown up in Austria, Thomas Vanek knew a lot about European hockey. Then the locked-out Buffalo Sabres winger, who left for the United States 14 years ago, signed a short contract with his hometown Graz 99ers, a team in the Erste Bank Eishockey Liga.

“Playing it and seeing it is definitely an experience,” Vanek said Wednesday after skating inside the Northtown Center.

Fans in the antiquated and small buildings throughout the EBEL ... Read the full article

Jason Pominville wants to stay even-keeled as formal CBA talks begin again. ©2012, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Players taking wait-and-see approach to new NHL labor talks

AMHERST – Don’t get too giddy yet, players cautioned. A new collective bargaining agreement between the NHL and its locked-out talent doesn’t appear imminent.

Nonetheless, for one of the few times during the 52-day work stoppage, there’s some encouraging news. The NHL and the Players’ Association will formally meet today in New York, the first face-to-face bargaining session since mid-October.

A long, productive meeting between NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly and NHLPA special counsel ... Read the full article

Thomas Vanek's Austrian contract ends Sunday. ©2012, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Austrian adventure almost over for Sabres’ Vanek

BUFFALO – Nine games later, the novelty hasn’t worn off. Wherever Thomas Vanek plays in his native Austria, arenas are still packed. The locked-out Sabres star, after all, is a national hero, just finishing fifth in a poll of the country’s top athletes.

Vanek’s first professional appearances at home have been special, once-in-a-lifetime opportunities for Austrian hockey fans. That’s why a “melancholic atmosphere” will accompany Vanek’s final two games this weekend with the Erste Bank ... Read the full article

Drew Stafford still remains optimistic NHL hockey will be played this season. ©2012, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

NHL’s month of game cancellations frustrates Sabres

AMHERST – Now the NHL has canceled all of its games through November, including 11 more Buffalo Sabres contests. Twenty Sabres tilts – 24.4 percent of the 82-game slate – have been axed 42 days into the lockout.

All together, the NHL’s second lockout since 2004-05 has claimed 326 games, a whopping 26.5 percent of the league’s schedule.

It’s almost impossible to argue any other way: Friday was a dark day for hockey. An ... Read the full article

A shoulder injury has sidelined Tyler Ennis six games. ©2012, Peter Eggimann, SCL Tigers

Your European Sabres update

BUFFALO – Here are some quick updates on the Sabres currently biding their time playing in various European leagues during the NHL lockout. Expect more to trickle overseas as the work stoppage drags on and more games get canceled.

Defenseman Christian Ehrhoff, Krefeld Penguins, DEL, Germany

The German, who played for Krefeld prior to his North American career, has six goals, 10 points, 16 penalty minutes and a plus-5 rating in 11 games.

Center ... Read the full article