Dan Bylsma lasted two seasons as coach. ©2017, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Sabres start over again by firing GM Tim Murray, coach Dan Bylsma

BUFFALO – Now what? In a stunning move, general manager Tim Murray and coach Dan Bylsma are gone, victims of the Sabres’ last-place finish.

Tanking, gutting the roster and starting from scratch were supposed to transform the Sabres into perennial contenders.

Instead, they’ve remained a laughingstock. So on Thursday, 11 days after the Sabres completed a disappointing 78-point season in which they regressed, owner Terry Pegula fired Murray and Bylsma.

Obviously, missing the playoffs by ... Read the full article

Dan Bylmsa could have an ultimatum next season. ©2017, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Dan Bylsma, players take blame for Sabres’ poor season

BUFFALO – Two seasons removed from a deep rebuild, the Sabres never expected to be a Stanley Cup contender, coach Dan Bylsma said.

Still, they never thought they would rank among the NHL’s bottom-feeders again.

Instead of building off their 27-point improvement in 2015-16, they imploded down the stretch this season, finishing last in the Atlantic Division and missing the playoffs – their big goal – by a whopping 17 points.... Read the full article

Rasmus Ristolainen is happy he can play again. ©2017, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Sabres ready to welcome Rasmus Ristolainen back to lineup

BUFFALO – In 74 games this season, defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen has averaged just under 27 minutes of playing time, the Sabres’ highest total. All together, the workhorse has spent almost 2,000 minutes on the ice in his fourth NHL campaign.

So while a three-game suspension for hitting Pittsburgh’s Jake Guentzel disappointed Ristolainen, 22, the short break from the rigors of a long year was welcomed.

“I got a good rest,” Ristolainen said of his absence. ... Read the full article

Brian Gionta scored his 289th NHL goal Monday. ©2017, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Sabres reward captain Brian Gionta with win over Panthers

BUFFALO – In the days leading to Brian Gionta’s 1,000th NHL game, the Sabres were a little nervous, even “walking on eggshells,” coach Dan Bylsma said.

No one wanted to talk about their captain’s milestone.

“Didn’t want to jinx it, so to speak,” Bylsma said after Gionta fittingly scored the winning goal in Monday’s 4-2 win against the Florida Panthers.

But the Sabres loosened up, and following an emotional pregame ceremony honoring Gionta’s achievement, ... Read the full article

Brian Gionta played his first NHL game Dec. 30, 2001. ©2017, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

1,000-game milestone special for Sabres captain Brian Gionta

BUFFALO – Over his 15 NHL seasons, Sabres captain Brian Gionta has seen plenty of players hit the prestigious 1,000-game mark, one of hockey’s toughest milestones.

But one time still stands out vividly.

As a member of the Montreal Canadiens, Gionta’s teammate, defenseman Hal Gill, played his 1,000th game early in 2011-12. Apparently, Gionta, then a 32-year-old in his 10th season, thought his friend was ancient.

“At the time, I thought, ‘Holy crap, that guy’s ... Read the full article

Rasmus Ristolainen (left) fights Toronto's James van Riemsdyk on Feb. 11. ©2017, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Rasmus Ristolainen’s suspension surprises Sabres

BUFFALO – Sabres defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen never expected he would be suspended for hitting Pittsburgh rookie Jake Guentzel in the head Tuesday. Coach Dan Bylsma never expected the ban would be so long.

But in the end, the Sabres will be without their No. 1 defenseman and arguably best player for the next three games, starting with tonight’s home tilt against the Toronto Maple Leafs.

“I didn’t expect anything,” Ristolainen said Friday following practice ... Read the full article

Rasmus Ristolainen must sit three games. ©2017, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Sabres’ Rasmus Ristolainen never expected to be suspended

BUFFALO – Sabres defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen never expected he would be suspended for hitting Pittsburgh rookie Jake Guentzel in the head Tuesday. Coach Dan Bylsma never expected the ban would be so long.

But in the end, the Sabres will be without their No. 1 defenseman and arguably best player for the next three games, starting with Saturday’s home tilt against Toronto.

“I didn’t expect anything,” Ristolainen said this afternoon following practice inside KeyBank Center.... Read the full article

Robin Lehner makes a save Tuesday. ©2017, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Rasmus Ristolainen ejected in Sabres’ loss to Penguins

BUFFALO – Sabres defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen had a split-second decision to make as Pittsburgh superstar Sidney Crosby dished the puck up to Jake Guentzel near their blue line early in Tuesday’s 3-1 loss to the Penguins.

Ristolainen could lay back and play it safe, or he could assume the short pass would be completed and step up and throttle Guentzel.

The Finn went for the hit, but the pass was intercepted by teammate Zemgus Girgensons. ... Read the full article

Rasmus Ristolainen scored his first shootout goal on his first attempt Friday. ©2017, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Sabres workhorse Rasmus Ristolainen willing to carry load

BUFFALO – Back in August, a crew in Rasmus Ristolainen’s native Finland filmed the Sabres defenseman utilizing some slick shootout moves – in the video, he dekes right before deftly backhanding the puck in with just his left hand – during a practice session.

At the end of the clip posted on Youtube.com, Ristolainen says in Finnish he would showcase the same moves if he received an opportunity in an NHL shootout.

This season, the ... Read the full article

Justin Bailey has played 19 straight games. ©2017, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Sabres’ Justin Bailey has opportunity to stay

BUFFALO – Right now, thanks to his torrid goal-scoring run in the AHL and some injuries with the big club, Sabres winger Justin Bailey has the best opportunity of his young career to stick in the NHL for good.

For the last five weeks, the speedy Bailey, 21, has enjoyed regular duty, playing 19 straight games. Some contests the Williamsville native has skated on a top line.

“It’s a really big one,” Sabres coach Dan ... Read the full article