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Jeanneret
Mikhail Grigorenko won't be returning to the Quebec Remparts. ©2013, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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BUFFALO – If the Sabres had to decide Mikhail Grigorenko’s NHL fate back in September, then the team would’ve returned the 18-year-old rookie to junior, general manager Darcy Regier said.

But the lockout gave Grigorenko a unique opportunity to keep developing before the 48-game NHL season started.

The center dominated the QMJHL. His strong play with Team Russia during the recent world junior championship elevated his confidence to another level, Regier said.

The top prospect arrived at training camp two weeks ago NHL …

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Mike Kostka played two seasons with the Sabres' old affiliate in Portland. ©2013, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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TORONTO – Mike Kostka was one day away from ditching his NHL dream, all set to take a gig playing overseas.

The 27-year-old Maple Leafs rookie couldn’t find any good work in North America. Despite two solid seasons with the Buffalo Sabres’ top affiliate in Portland, the team hadn’t tendered the defenseman a contract in 2010, making him a free agent.

Then Kostka’s friend, an AHL player named Marco Rosa, stopped over Kostka’s home a day before he planned to depart for …

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Mikhail Grigorenko skated 15 shifts during his NHL debut Sunday. ©2013, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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BUFFALO – Ten minutes after the Sabres’ 5-2 opening-day win over the Philadelphia Flyers had ended, Steve Ott was still thinking about that nifty chance beside the net slick rookie center Mikhail Grigorenko had created for him.

Sure, Ott was excited about his power-play goal that opened the scoring just 11:07 into his Sabres debut. But the opportunity that had gotten away was still playing inside his head at bit.

“I kind of feel bad. He set the table,” Ott said Sunday …

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Marcus Foligno poses for a photo with a fan this morning inside the First Niagara Center. ©2013, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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BUFFALO – All seems forgiven. The hockey-deprived Sabres fans look amped for this afternoon’s season opener against the Philadelphia Flyers. Thanks to the NHL 113-day lockout, it’s been 288 days since the Sabres last played a game.

Right now, however, it feels like the NHL never left. The First Niagara Center will be packed and jumping today. Fans spent the week gobbling up discounted merchandise and wondering if 18-year-old Mikhail Grigorenko could crack the lineup (he’ll play today).

The Sabres are the …

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Ville Leino's questionable for this afternoon's season opener. ©2013, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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BUFFALO – The Sabres have their first injury of the lockout-shortened 2012-13 season.

“A nagging little” problem that flared up kept Ville Leino from practicing Saturday, coach Lindy Ruff said.

The winger’s questionable for this afternoon’s season opener against the Philadelphia Flyers inside the First Niagara Center.

Leino, who left practice early Friday, plans to skate this morning before making a decision. It’s believed he’s nursing a leg injury.

“If he feels like he’s good, ready to roll, we’ll get him in,” Ruff said.

Leino’s …

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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
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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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 Monday in Toronto, said Friday inside the …

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©2012
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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BUFFALO – Sabres play-by-play man Rick Jeanneret will call all 82 games next season, the club announced Wednesday.

The local legend, who signed a new multi-year contract earlier this month, had been working a reduced number of games for several years. He called 57 last year.

Jeanneret, the longest-tenured NHL broadcaster at 41 years, will be honored with the Hockey Hall of Fame’s Foster Hewitt Memorial Award this fall.

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©2012
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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BUFFALO – Former Sabres enforcer Rob Ray will become the team’s full-time color commentator next season beside play-by-play man Rick Jeanneret on radio and television, replacing Harry Neale, who’s moving to another analyst role after five years.

The club also announced Monday that Jeanneret, who will be honored with the Hockey Hall of Fame’s Foster Hewitt Award later this year, has signed a new multi-year contract and will call more games in 2012-13. No number was specified. He called 57 contests …

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©2012
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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BUFFALO – Legendary Sabres play-by-play man Rick Jeanneret will be entering the Hockey Hall of Fame as the 2012 recipient of the Foster Hewitt Award.

Jeanneret, the NHL’s longest-tenured announcer at 41 years, will be honored in November. Former Sabres play-by-play voice Ted Darling also received the award in 1994, given for “outstanding contributions to their profession and the game during their career in hockey.”

The colorful and popular Jeanneret, whose catchphrases are part of local lore, will also be inducted into …

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Paul Gaustad's failure to go after Milan Lucic helped dramatically alter the season. ©2012, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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“The main thing is start talking about it and just put it out there that we want to win a championship. We want to do it the right way, and we just have to hit a few checkpoints along the way and set ourselves up for it.” – Sabres goalie Ryan Miller, September 16, 2011

BUFFALO – Nearly seven months after his upbeat chat as training camp opened, Miller and the Sabres will clean out their lockers today inside the First …

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