Jochen Hecht left his family to play at home in Germany briefly. ©2013, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Sabres’ Hecht thrilled about return: ‘Everything worked out’

BUFFALO – Nine months earlier, in the same spot he stood smiling Sunday, Jochen Hecht had fought back tears discussing what appeared to be the end of his long Sabres career.

Back then, concussions – three in 10 months and two in five, including a serious, season-ending one last January – had derailed the German’s career. He was turning 35 years old and entering free agency following a 22-game season.

The chances of the Sabres ... Read the full article

Jochen Hecht (front) and Jason Pominville played well together in Germany. ©2013, Soerli Binder, Adler Mannheim

Hecht’s return to Sabres ‘remains a possibility’

BUFFALO – If you think Sabres captain Jason Pominville’s five-goal, 12-point performance during a short seven-game stint with the Mannheim Eagles was impressive, consider what old friend Jochen Hecht, who hadn’t played regularly in nearly a year, accomplished during the same time with the DEL club in Germany.

In his first action since last January, when he suffered what was believed to be his third concussion in 10 months, Hecht compiled five goals ... Read the full article

Jason Pominville posted gaudy numbers in Germany. ©2013, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Sabres captain Pominville back in Buffalo after short stint overseas

AMHERST – Just hours after returning to Buffalo following a marathon travel day from Germany, Buffalo Sabres captain Jason Pominville was back on the Northtown Center ice this morning, skating with 10 other teammates.

“I wanted to be here,” said Pominville, who left the Mannheim Eagles when the NHL lockout ended Sunday. “I wanted to make sure I get a good sweat. It’s going to be such a short turnaround (before the season) that’s there’s ... Read the full article

Jason Pominville already has four goals in four DEL games. ©2012, Soerli Binder, Adler Mannheim

Yet another European Sabres update

BUFFALO – Will more Sabres go overseas? Could some go back?

You bet.

If the NHL lockout drags on, expect to see more players bolt for Europe. They desperately want to stay sharp. Some haven’t played games now in eight or nine months.

Of course, going overseas has its drawbacks. Most of the good leagues are filled up, leaving only second-tier (or lower) jobs available. Some leagues pay paltry salaries. Many teams are isolated. Some ... Read the full article

Jochen Hecht wants to return to the NHL when the lockout ends. ©2012, Janet Schultz, Olean Times Herald

Hecht heading to Germany with goal of NHL return

BUFFALO – In September, former Sabres forward Jochen Hecht said he had a standing offer to join his hometown Mannheim Eagles, a DEL club in his native Germany.

Hecht kept that option on the backburner, however.

Instead of returning home, the 35-year-old free agent made the NHL his No. 1 option. Hecht stayed in Buffalo, skating with some locked-out Sabres at the Northtown Center a few times a week.

But with the lockout 87 days ... Read the full article

Jordan Leopold wants no part of a potential meeting between players and owners. ©2012, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Sabres players not interested in meeting owners

AMHERST – Mediation, as expected, failed to ignite talks between the NHL and the Players’ Association.

Seventy-seven days into the lockout, nothing has gotten the sides on the same page. The clock’s already ticking on the 2012-13 season.

So what about that meeting limited only to players and owners NHL commissioner Gary Bettman proposed Thursday after the two days of supervised talks broke down? Could that work?

Bettman and NHLPA executive director Don Fehr would ... Read the full article

Jason Pominville's joining his childhood friend, Yanick Lehoux, in Mannheim. ©2012, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Sabres captain Pominville to join Mannheim of German league

AMHERST – Buffalo Sabres captain Jason Pominville’s heading to the Mannheim Eagles of the DEL in Germany to play during the NHL lockout, he told the Times Herald today.

“If it does get settled quick, then I’ll be able to skate for a few weeks, a month – whatever it is,” Pominville said after skating inside the Northtown Center. “It’ll be a mini training camp. And if not, I’ll have a team for the rest ... Read the full article

Jason Pominville hopes mediation will bring new ideas to negotiations between the NHL and the NHL Players' Association. ©2012, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Sabres players hopeful mediation can lead to breakthrough

AMHERST – Mediation can’t hurt, right? Heck, with the NHL lockout now 75 days old, the league and the NHL Players’ Association desperately need something new to help jumpstart negotiations.

Why not get a third party involved?

That finally happened Wednesday at an undisclosed location, as the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service began overseeing negotiations between the league and the NHLPA.

“Hopefully, he can (lend) his opinion and bring some new ideas and make both ... Read the full article

Jordan Leopold thinks last week's CBA negotiations restored some optimism to the process. ©2012, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Sabres players see CBA negotiations as one-sided

AMHERST – What the heck happens now? NHL labor talks finally appeared to be turning a corner last week, with a string of “secret” marathon negotiating sessions raising optimism a deal could be struck in the near future.

Both sides remained tight-lipped. They plowed through session and after session.

Then the collective bargaining agreement talks crumbled again. Sniping between the NHL and the Players’ Association has resumed.

“I think last week with us talking brought ... Read the full article

Jason Pominville wants to stay even-keeled as formal CBA talks begin again. ©2012, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Players taking wait-and-see approach to new NHL labor talks

AMHERST – Don’t get too giddy yet, players cautioned. A new collective bargaining agreement between the NHL and its locked-out talent doesn’t appear imminent.

Nonetheless, for one of the few times during the 52-day work stoppage, there’s some encouraging news. The NHL and the Players’ Association will formally meet today in New York, the first face-to-face bargaining session since mid-October.

A long, productive meeting between NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly and NHLPA special counsel ... Read the full article