Mikhail Grigorenko (right) "doesn't look like a junior player," coach Lindy Ruff said. ©2013, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Ruff wants Grigorenko’s play to force Sabres to keep him

BUFFALO – About 10 minutes into his first NHL practice, Mikhail Grigorenko calmed down, channeled his nervous energy and began showcasing the many talents that could land the 18-year-old in the Sabres’ opening-day lineup next week.

The slick Russian center enjoyed a solid showing on Sunday, the first day of training camp and the lockout-shortened 2012-13 season.

But, as Lindy Ruff said, “practice drills are one thing.” Competition drills, where Grigorenko can utilize his 6-foot-3, ... Read the full article

Mikhail Grigorenko skated against NHL competition for the first time this morning. ©2013, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

All eyes on Sabres prospect Grigorenko as training camp begins

BUFFALO – Mikhail Grigorenko’s many talents – the passing and playmaking ability, the long strides – had caught everyone’s eye just a few minutes into the Sabres’ first training camp session this morning.

Most observers believe the top prospect will enjoy a long NHL career.

But when will the slick 18-year-old center’s big league tenure start? Will he be in the Sabres’ opening-day lineup next Sunday?

Stay tuned. The Sabres will be giving the Russian, ... Read the full article

The Sabres said in June prospect Mikhail Grigorenko would have a chance at an NHL roster spot. ©2013, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Roster battles promise to make Sabres camp interesting

BUFFALO – Thanks to the agonizingly long NHL lockout, 281 days have passed since the Sabres last played a game. Thankfully, the team will finally start an abbreviated training camp today. The season opens in just a week.

So what’s changed in the last nine months? How’s this group different from the high-priced, ninth-place team that was built to win the Stanley Cup in 2011-12?

The Sabres got tougher, acquiring Steve Ott to be the ... Read the full article

Lindy Ruff spent much of the NHL lockout monitoring prospects. ©2013, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Sabres’ Ruff readying for hectic season ahead

BUFFALO – Lindy Ruff had already endured 113 days of the NHL lockout, so waiting another 60 minutes to find out the work stoppage was over wouldn’t have bothered the Sabres coach.

“My phone had gone off while I was sleeping,” Ruff said Wednesday about how he heard the lockout had ended. “It was one of these, somebody had texted me at 6 a.m., ‘Congrats, it’s over.’ And (you think), ‘Wait an hour to ... Read the full article

Lindy Ruff will begin coaching a shortened training camp in the coming days. ©2013, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Sabres’ Ruff always believed NHL season would be played

BUFFALO – In his first meeting with local reporters since July, Lindy Ruff couldn’t wipe the smile off his face during a 20-minute chat this afternoon inside the First Niagara Center. Clearly, the Sabres coach can’t wait for the season to start.

Ruff thanked the fans for their support before fielding questions about the upcoming season and how he spent his time during the NHL lockout.

Here are some quick highlights:

On if the season ... Read the full article

Darcy Regier finally got to talk about training camp Tuesday. ©2013, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Sabres apologize for lockout, thank fans for patience

BUFFALO – Make no mistake, the Sabres supported the NHL’s 113-day lockout.

“I don’t want anyone to think we didn’t vote in favor of it,” Sabres president Ted Black said Tuesday during a 30-minute news conference inside the First Niagara Center to talk about the upcoming season.

But how does the new collective bargaining agreement benefit the Sabres? Terry Pegula, their billionaire owner, spends freely on the team. Money isn’t an issue. The Sabres operate ... Read the full article

Luke Adam recently reeled off five goals and nine points in eight games. ©2013, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Sabres prospect Adam feeling confident again after breaking long slump with Amerks

BUFFALO – It was a year in the making. During a recent eight-game run, Rochester Americans forward Luke Adam morphed into a dynamic presence again, using his 6-foot-2, 206-pound frame to dominate down low.

Adam compiled five goals – he had only six in his first 44 games with the Amerks dating back to last season – and nine points, including scores in four straight. He was tough on pucks, won battles and got to ... Read the full article

T.J. Brennan already has 12 goals this season. ©2012, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Amerks’ Brennan making strong case to stick with Sabres if NHL season starts

BUFFALO – In the coming weeks, if the NHL and the Players’ Association hammer out a new collective bargaining agreement, the Sabres will convene for an abbreviated training camp and begin molding a six-man defense corps from a stacked group that stretches more than 10 deep.

The Sabres boast eight NHL defensemen after acquiring Adam Pardy from Dallas this summer. Eleven defenders in the organization appeared in the big leagues last season, including T.J. Brennan, ... Read the full article

Marcus Foligno scored the overtime winner in Wednesday's wild 7-6 win. ©2012, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Amerks not expecting another crazy affair

BUFFALO – So, about those two wild 7-6 games between the Rochester Americans and the Lake Erie Monsters recently.

The Sabres’ AHL affiliate rallied from three three-goal deficits Dec. 13 in Cleveland. Then, incredibly, the Amerks rallied again late Wednesday in Rochester, forcing overtime before Marcus Foligno won it.

Don’t expect another goal bonanza tonight inside the First Niagara Center.

“They’re going to be pretty (ticked) off they blew a couple leads there,” said ... Read the full article

Cody Hodgson has 10 points in nine games this season. ©2012, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Report: Amerks’ Hodgson back in lineup

Our friend Kevin Oklobzija reports Rochester Americans center Cody Hodgson will return tonight from the broken bone in his right hand that’s sidelined him since Nov. 2.

The 22-year-old was injured Oct. 27 and made one more appearance before sitting 14 games.

Hodgson, who’s been kicked back to the AHL by the NHL lockout, dominated early this season, compiling nine assists and 10 points in nine games.... Read the full article