Jack Eichel spoke like a leader last week. ©2018, Hickling Images

Youngster Jack Eichel could be Sabres’ captain next season

BUFFALO – When the Sabres chose to rotate four alternates this season instead of awarding the prestigious ‘C’ to a single player, they likely started center Jack Eichel’s ascension to the captaincy.

The Sabres, of course, couldn’t name Eichel their captain last October. He was entering just his third NHL season and still prone to bouts of immaturity. He had never worn a letter, either.

So they let him sport an ‘A’ with veterans Zach ... Read the full article

Jason Pominville (29) has experienced raucous crowds in Buffalo. ©2018, Hickling Images

Winning will help Sabres generate more excitement at home

BUFFALO – KeyBank Center hasn’t always been the NHL’s quietest venue. When the Sabres roared out of the 2005 lockout and briefly contended for the Stanley Cup during winger Jason Pominville’s first tenure here, the rink was often raucous and among the league’s noisiest.

Of course, 10 or 12 years ago, the Sabres regularly won games and ranked among the league’s highest-scoring teams. If you attended a game, chances are you’d witness something special ... Read the full article

Jason Botterill has a long list of things the Sabres must change. ©2018, Hickling Images

Sabres GM Jason Botterill ticked off over poor season

BUFFALO – Sabres general manager Jason Botterill spoke like a man embarrassed by what he had just experienced and hellbent on never letting it happening again.

Botterill is usually measured in his comments, keeping his emotions in check. But discussing the Sabres’ wretched 31st-place finish this season made him seethe.

The Sabres hired Botterill last year from Pittsburgh, where he won three Stanley Cups in 10 seasons with the Penguins and never missed the playoffs.... Read the full article

Phil Housley won 25 games as a rookie coach. ©2018, Hickling Images

Sabres notes: GM Jason Botterill supports coach Phil Housley

BUFFALO – It’s unlikely legendary coaches Toe Blake or Scotty Bowman could’ve done much with the Sabres this season. A dearth of talent helped them finish 31st overall.

Still, following such a miserable campaign, the question had to be asked: will Phil Housley be general manager Jason Botterill’s coach again next season?

“One-hundred percent Phil Housley will be our coach next year,” Botterill said Wednesday inside KeyBank Center. “I have certainly enjoyed working with Phil ... Read the full article

Jason Botterill isn't used to losing. ©2018, Hickling Images

Awful season leaves Sabres GM Jason Botterill seething

BUFFALO – Jason Botterill is usually measured in his comments, keeping his emotions in check. But discussing the Sabres’ wretched 31st-place finish made the rookie general manager seethe.

The Sabres hired Botterill from Pittsburgh, where he won three Stanley Cups in 10 seasons and never missed the playoffs.

So a lost season in which the Sabres won 25 games and earned a meager 62 points is humbling for Botterill.... Read the full article

Jack Eichel handled the Sabres' struggles better this year. ©2018, Micheline Veluvolu

Sabres’ Jack Eichel talking like leader

BUFFALO – A year ago, frustration overwhelmed Jack Eichel as he talked about the Sabres’ awful season. The center looked restless, staring off into the distance while offering mostly terse answers.

Basically, Eichel came off as immature.

On Monday morning, however, Eichel, 21, acted like a leader discussing the Sabres’ 31st-place finish, a season much worse than a year ago. He answered every question thoughtfully, even passionately. He looked every questioner in the eye.... Read the full article

Jack Eichel knows the Sabres must change. ©2018, Micheline Veluvolu

Jack Eichel illustrates maturity discussing Sabres’ awful season

BUFFALO – A year ago, frustration overwhelmed Jack Eichel as he talked about the Sabres’ awful season. The center looked restless, staring off into the distance while offering mostly terse answers.

Basically, Eichel came off as immature.

This morning, however, Eichel, 21, acted like a leader discussing the Sabres’ 31st-place finish, a season much worse than a year ago. He answered every question thoughtfully, even passionately. He looked every questioner in the eye.... Read the full article

Zemgus Girgensons has experienced plenty of losing with the Sabres. ©2018, Hickling Images

Last-place Sabres never got on track during lost season

BUFFALO – Way back on opening night, Oct. 5, the Sabres caused KeyBank Center to buzz with excitement for one of the few times in recent memory.

The Sabres’ new regime of coach Phil Housley, a Hall of Fame defenseman and Buffalo legend, and general manager Jason Botterill, who helped construct three Stanley Cup winners in Pittsburgh, had energized the fan base and offered hope.

Perhaps the Sabres wouldn’t make the playoffs in 2017-18, but ... Read the full article

Kevin Porter won the Stanley Cup two years ago with Pittsburgh. ©2018, Micheline Veluvolu, Rochester Americans

Amerks captain Kevin Porter grateful for recall to Sabres

BUFFALO – In three seasons between his stints in the Sabres organization, forward Kevin Porter played 43 NHL games. One year, the former Hobey Baker Award winner stayed in the minors all season. In another one, he played just two contests.

But two years ago, Porter, 32, earned regular duty with the Pittsburgh Penguins, playing 41 contests before an ankle injury ended his season.

While Porter missed the playoffs, he experienced the Stanley Cup run ... Read the full article

Casey Mittelstadt played in Buffalo at the World Junior Championship. ©2018, Micheline Veluvolu

Slick prospect Casey Mittelstadt excited to join Sabres

BUFFALO – In barely a year, Sabres prospect Casey Mittelstadt has lived all three of his hockey dreams.

Right now, having just signed his three-year, entry-level contract, Mittelstadt is beginning his NHL career. The slick center will likely make his debut Thursday against the Detroit Red Wings.

Earlier this month, the eighth overall pick in 2017 finished his freshman season at the University of Minnesota. A year ago, he played at Eden Prairie High School, ... Read the full article