Brian Gionta (left) receives a silver stick from Sabres general manager Tim Murray on Monday. ©2017, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Sabres captain Brian Gionta honored for 1,000th game

BUFFALO – Sabres winger Tyler Ennis said undersized NHL players – a “brotherhood,” he called them – share “an unspoken bond.”

Small players, of course, have the odds stacked against them. Only they can truly understand what they endured to make the league.

Fifteen or 20 years ago, it was even tougher for them to crack the NHL. That’s why Ennis, who’s listed at 5-foot-9, grew up idolizing diminutive stars, including 5-foot-7 Sabres captain Brian ... Read the full article

Brian Gionta (12) isn't afraid to go to the net. ©2017, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Sabres captain Brian Gionta ready for 1,000th game

BUFFALO – As another trying season winds down, the Sabres finally have something special to celebrate. Captain Brian Gionta will play his 1,000th NHL game tonight, and his teammates couldn’t be more excited.

“That’s a huge, huge honor in this league, a huge milestone and accomplishment,” Sabres winger Marcus Foligno said. “A thousand games in the NHL is rare.”

Tonight is all about Gionta, the 38-year-old Greece native who has enjoyed a long and unlikely ... Read the full article

Former Sabres goalie Ryan Miller applauds the crowd on Saturday afternoon. ©2015, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Sabres fans and goalie Ryan Miller salute each other

BUFFALO – Ryan Miller wanted to thank everyone in the building. So when the stirring video tribute honoring the former Sabres goalie ended Saturday afternoon, he skated out from his crease, raised his stick and turned around as he applauded the crowd that was roaring for him.

“I can take a second to turn around and make sure everyone knows it’s everybody and not just raising the stick,” Miller said following the Vancouver Canucks’ 3-2 ... Read the full article

Joe Cecconi was smiling Thursday. ©2014, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Youngstown’s Joe Cecconi poised to become high NHL draft pick

BUFFALO – About 100 family and friends watched No. 5 in white closely all night. Thirty sported neon green “Cecconi Fan Club” shirts, making them impossible to miss in the crowd. They brought spray-painted signs and three large cutouts of the defenseman’s head.

Forty-two youngsters skated in Thursday’s All-American Prospects Game, a showcase of the top U.S. talent eligible for the 2015 draft. Only one, Youngstown’s Joe Cecconi, who represented Team Olczyk, hailed from Western ... Read the full article

Mike Grier instructs his players this morning. ©2014, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Mike Grier enjoying retirement, understands Sabres’ rebuild

BUFFALO – Retirement has been good for Mike Grier. Since leaving the NHL, the popular former Sabres winger has enjoyed the family life he couldn’t experience during his playing days.

But after almost three years of helping out his wife, “I think now she’s ready for me to get out of the house,” Grier joked this morning inside the First Niagara Center.

Grier’s beginning to get more involved in hockey again. He’s about to ... Read the full article

Jack Eichel talks to the media Wednesday. ©2014, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Mega-prospect Jack Eichel focused on college career

BUFFALO – NHL.com recently asked nine scouts which 2015 NHL draft prospect they preferred: Connor McDavid or Jack Eichel. McDavid, the more recognizable name, won by the slimmest of margins, 5-4.

The informal poll proved what many hockey observers have been saying for years: 2015 could have two once-in-a-generation, franchise-changing talents at the top of the class.

Eichel, an ultra-slick Boston University freshman, will be the marquee attraction at tonight’s All-American Prospects Game inside the ... Read the full article

Mike Grier retired in 2011. ©2014, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Mike Grier to coach team at All-American Prospects Game

BUFFALO – USA Hockey has named popular former Sabres winger Mike Grier and Ed Olczyk the coaches for the upcoming All-American Prospects Game.

Grier played 1,060 NHL games, including 241 with the Sabres over parts of four seasons. He retired in 2011.

The 39-year-old represented the U.S. in international competitions as a player. He was an on-ice instructor at the USA Hockey Boys’ Select 17 Player Development Camp in July.

Olczyk played 1,031 NHL games ... Read the full article

Tyler Ennis is one of the Sabres' most experienced forwards. ©2013, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Tyler Ennis ready to lead young Sabres teammates, confident he’ll start scoring

BUFFALO – Tyler Ennis spoke confidently. That missing offense, “It’s going to come,” the Sabres center said before repeating the words again.

“There’s always stretches,” the pointless Ennis said Wednesday after the Sabres prepared for tonight’s tilt against the Columbus Blue Jackets inside the First Niagara Center. “It’s only been four games.”

Of course, the 24-year-old’s hardly alone right now. Seventeen players on the winless Sabres (0-3-1) haven’t recorded a point yet. The team only ... Read the full article

Steve Ott (9) and Thomas Vanek were named co-captains Tuesday. ©2013, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Thomas Vanek and Steve Ott ready to captain Sabres

BUFFALO – Shortly before noon Tuesday, the Sabres quickly streamed off the First Niagara Center ice following practice and walked to their dressing room. The metal door closed after all the players had entered.

Inside, coach Ron Rolston began addressing his team’s captaincy, which had remained vacant since the Sabres traded Jason Pominville in April.

Cheers emanated from the room a few minutes later. More applause could be heard shortly after that.

Instead of ... Read the full article

Two years ago, the Sabres signed Ville Leino, a winger, to a six-year, $27 million contract to play center. ©2013, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Sabres likely won’t pursue big names during free agency

BUFFALO – The focus during free agency, general manager Darcy Regier said, will be on adding supporting pieces to the Sabres’ younger core group. The crazy spending of the past appears to be over, at least for this summer.

So, when free agency opens at noon today, don’t expect the Sabres to wildly overpay or overreach for any Ville Leino-types again. And don’t expect them to throw tens of millions of dollars at any ... Read the full article