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Pittsburgh Penguins

Former Sabres defenseman Philippe Boucher watched most of Pittsburgh's 2009 run to the Stanley Cup. ©2015, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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The two friends met again under unusual circumstances.

It was February 2009, and Dan Bylsma, a 38-year-old rookie coach, was beginning the arduous task of replacing Michel Therrien and saving the sinking Pittsburgh Penguins’ Stanley Cup hopes. His oldest defenseman, 36-year-old Philippe Boucher, was injured and months away from retirement.

A decade earlier, as Los Angeles Kings teammates, the two had grown close. Boucher greatly respected Bylsma, who carved out a solid career as a journeyman checker after starting out in the …

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The Sabres gave the Penguins a third-round pick for Dan Bylsma. ©2015, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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BUFFALO – The 2016 third-round pick the Sabres sent the Pittsburgh Penguins as compensation for coach Dan Bylsma briefly held up the team officially announcing the deal Thursday.

What happened?

General manager Tim Murray said assistant GM Mark Jakubowski alerted him the Sabres wouldn’t have the necessary picks to pursue restricted free agents with an offer sheet if they gave the Penguins their own selection. Teams must send their own picks as compensation if the other club doesn’t match an offer. The …

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From left, Sabres general manager Tim Murray, coach Dan Bylsma and owner Terry Pegula hold up a No. 15 Bylsma jersey Thursday. ©2015, Margaret Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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BUFFALO – There was a time before the Sabres hired Dan Bylsma on Thursday that the coach and general manager Tim Murray both represented the Anaheim Mighty Ducks.

Back in the early 2000s, as Bylsma finished up his journeyman playing career, Murray was the team’s director of player personnel.

“I complained about him a lot,” Murray cracked Thursday during a news conference to introduce Bylsma as the Sabres’ 17th coach in franchise history. “That’s about all I remember.”

Given their different roles, the …

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Dan Bylsma is the 17th coach in Sabres history. ©2015, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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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 perhaps the most notable name left on the market. …

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Zach Bogosian battles with Pittsburgh star Sidney Crosby (87) on Saturday. ©2015, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
1

BUFFALO – The roughest season in the Sabres’ 45-year history is finally over, a 2-0 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins on Saturday capping an 82-game slate that was tumultuous from start to finish.

The outcome, of course, hardly mattered. The rebuilding Sabres, who never quit throughout the campaign, had already locked up 30th place and either the first or second draft pick in next Saturday’s draft lottery.

The season finale was about regaining some normalcy, hearing some of those Sabres fans who …

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Johan Larsson (22) battles Pittsburgh's Rob Scuderi on Saturday. ©2015, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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BUFFALO – Three months ago, when the Sabres seemingly banished Johan Larsson to the minors, the 22-year-old’s future here seemed iffy.

Upon arriving in Rochester, Larsson complained about playing on the fourth line with the Sabres, something that angered coach Ted Nolan, who basically told Larsson to shut his mouth.

At that point, Larsson had one goal and six points in 41 NHL games.

Larsson entered Saturday’s season finale against the Pittsburgh Penguins, a 2-0 loss inside the First Niagara Center, as the …

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Anders Lindback will make his third straight start. ©2015, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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BUFFALO – Some quick Sabres updates from First Niagara Center prior to the season finale against the Pittsburgh Penguins:

– The Sabres will use the same lineup that lost 4-2 on Friday in Columbus, so goalie Anders Lindback will make his third straight start.

“He’s a big horse, and he’s been playing well,” Sabres coach Ted Nolan said this afternoon. “Right now, he deserves it.”

Backup goalie Matt Hackett, who’s been battling soreness, will dress again. Nolan couldn’t put Hackett in against a …

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Sidney Crosby has a 19-game point streak against the Sabres. ©2015, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
1

BUFFALO – Sidney Crosby has feasted on the Sabres throughout his 10-year career.

The Pittsburgh Penguins superstar enters tonight’s season finale at the First Niagara Center with a 19-game point streak against the Sabres that goes back to Dec. 29, 2007. The 27-year-old has 10 goals and 36 points in that stretch.

Crosby has a point in all 15 career visits here, a whopping nine goals and 27 points. No wonder he said he likes the FNC ice earlier this season.

The slick …

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Sidney Crosby dissects the Sabres on Saturday. ©2014, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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BUFFALO – This one lasted one shift. Eighty-one seconds into the Pittsburgh Penguins’ 6-1 annihilation of the Sabres, Kris Letang converted Sidney Crosby’s slick pass, the first of the superstar’s five assists Saturday.

Game over.

The Penguins utterly destroyed the hapless Sabres before a capacity crowd of 19,070 fans inside the First Niagara Center.

The potent Penguins scored again before the Sabres recorded their first shot 13:21 into the lopsided contest. They led 3-0 after the first period, 6-1 after the second and …

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Mike Weber fights Steve Downie on Saturday. ©2014, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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BUFFALO – Following an embarrassing 5-0 loss eight days ago in Pittsburgh, defenseman Mike Weber passionately called for more anger and intensity from the reeling Sabres.

The gritty Weber sat out the next night, the first of three straight healthy scratches. The 26-year-old, an emotional presence, hadn’t missed a game since Dec. 10.

The Pittsburgh native played again in Saturday’s 6-1 loss to the Penguins inside the First Niagara Center.

“It was extremely tough,” Weber said Saturday morning about sitting out. “So I …

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