Evan Rodrigues grew up cheering for the Maple Leafs. ©2017, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Toronto debut special for Sabres rookie Evan Rodrigues

TORONTO – Growing up in Etobicoke, about a 20-minute drive from the Air Canada Centre, Alexander Mogilny’s talents mesmerized Buffalo Sabres rookie Evan Rodrigues.

By the early 2000s, long after his dynamic 76-goal season with the Sabres in 1992-93, Mogilny was still an electrifying presence for some strong Maple Leafs teams.

“He was always trying something new,” Rodrigues said Saturday prior to the Sabres’ 3-1 win against the Leafs. “He always made some real ... Read the full article

Jack Eichel (right) has 10 goals and 17 points in 22 games this season. ©2017, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Sabres’ Jack Eichel, Leafs’ Auston Matthews meet with Toronto surging

TORONTO – The Maple Leafs, like the Buffalo Sabres of a year ago, had to improve this season because 30th place was no longer their target.

After bottoming out on purpose, the Leafs added first overall pick Auston Matthews to their large stable of young talent. They also have Mike Babcock, arguably the NHL’s best coach.

Few, however, expected the upstart Leafs would be this good this soon. Right now, having won eight of the ... Read the full article

Jhonas Enroth signed a one-year contract with Toronto in August. ©2016, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Sabres notes: Leafs goalie Jhonas Enroth waited to find new job

BUFFALO – This city, Jhonas Enroth said, will always “have a soft spot in my heart.” The Swede grew up with the Sabres, often performing like the team’s goalie of the future during his 118-game run here.

But almost two years after his last appearance with the Sabres, “the feeling is starting to cool down a little bit,” Enroth said Thursday prior to the Sabres’ 2-1 loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs.

The Leafs are ... Read the full article

Mike Babcock watched the World Series on Thursday. ©2016, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Emotions of World Series wowed Leafs’ Mike Babcock

BUFFALO – Mike Babcock, admittedly, is “not a huge baseball fan.” Still, the Toronto Maple Leafs coach couldn’t help but watch Game 7 of the World Series between the Chicago Cubs and Cleveland Indians late Thursday night and early this morning.

The actual game, a classic that Chicago won 8-7 in 10 innings, didn’t wow Babcock as much as the emotions and scenes in and around the ballpark.

“What a spectacular thing for a city,” ... Read the full article

Sam Reinhart scored the shootout winner Monday. ©2016, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Top talent rallies Sabres past Leafs

TORONTO – Call it whatever you want – a tank, a deep rebuild – the Maple Leafs gutted their roster recently, leaving coach Mike Babcock a team filled with unknown neophytes to mold into NHL talent.

The Buffalo Sabres, meanwhile, have already endured what the Leafs are just beginning: a total overhaul. The Sabres are, theoretically, two years ahead of Toronto.

At this stage, they should exploit a reeling club dressing six rookies. The Sabres ... Read the full article

Brad Boyes attended training camp on a tryout. ©2015, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Former Sabre Brad Boyes happy with Leafs after tough summer

BUFFALO – At times throughout his uncertain summer, former Sabres forward Brad Boyes said he wondered, “Why is this happening?”

For the second time in three years, Boyes, a former 43-goal scorer, couldn’t find work.

In 2013, after a strong season with the New York Islanders, Boyes, 33, had to earn a spot in Florida on a tryout. He parlayed that into a two-year extension and figured after scoring 35 goals over two seasons, he ... Read the full article

Dan Bylsma's team has 10 afternoon home games. ©2015, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Sabres’ 2015-16 schedule features early home games, new strategy

SUNRISE, Fla. – If slick center Jack Eichel joins the NHL next season, Buffalo fans will get a long look at the second overall pick October. The Sabres open the season with three straight home games for the first time in 40 years.

That’s just one highlight of the 2015-16 schedule the NHL released Thursday.

Six of the opening eight games are at the First Niagara Center, so Eichel, the phenom the Sabres will select ... Read the full article

Dan Bylsma returns to Pittsburgh on Oct. 29. ©2015, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

2015-16 Sabres schedule has interesting dates, new wrinkles

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – Before I run to catch a cab to switch hotels, here are some highlights from the 2015-16 Buffalo Sabres schedule the NHL released this morning.

– The Sabres, and perhaps the Jack Eichel era, open Oct. 8 at home against the Ottawa Senators at the First Niagara Center. They open with a season-high three-game home stand, one of seven on the schedule. The Sabres also don’t have a road trip more ... Read the full article

Dan Bylsma is the 17th coach in Sabres history. ©2015, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Updated with quotes: Sabres name Dan Bylsma coach

BUFFALO – The Sabres finally have a new coach. The rebuilding team today named Dan Bylsma, a 2009 Stanley Cup winner, the 17th coach in franchise history.

The 44-year-old Bylsma, who spent Wednesday visiting with the Sabres, will be formally introduced at a 4 p.m. news conference at the First Niagara Center.

Update: Bylsma has a five-year contract, according to TSN’s Darren Dreger.

Sabres owners Terry and Kim Pegula went big again, bringing in ... Read the full article

Dan Bylsma coached Pittsburgh from 2009 until 2014. ©2015, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Jay McKee believes Dan Bylsma would be good fit to coach Sabres

One day in 2009-10, Dan Bylsma, then in his first full season as the Pittsburgh Penguins’ coach, had an odd request for Jay McKee, one of the NHL’s top shot blockers for years.

“He actually asked me not to block as many shots,” McKee, a popular former Buffalo Sabres defenseman, said by phone Tuesday.

One of McKee’s recent blocks had deflected into the net, so Bylsma, who will reportedly interview with the Sabres this week, ... Read the full article