On with the summer

Archive:
Ruff

Phil Housley electrified Buffalo fans in the 1980s. ©2015, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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Doubt crept into Phil Housley’s head as the Hockey Hall of Fame passed him over year after year. Since 2006, three years after he ended an often spectacular 21-year career, the former Buffalo Sabres star defenseman patiently waited for a life-changing phone call.

Housley, who amassed 1,232 points in 1,495 games, was starting to think the call might never come.

Then on Monday, as Housley was about to eat lunch at a restaurant in Arizona, his phone rang. The Hall of Fame …

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Ryan O'Reilly spent six seasons in Colorado. ©2015, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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BUFFALO – Sabres center Ryan O’Reilly’s ready to tackle a new challenge. During his first six NHL seasons, the 24-year-old wasn’t viewed as one of the Avalanche’s leaders. Colorado stars Matt Duchesne, Gabriel Landeskog and Nathan MacKinnon often overshadowed him.

But O’Reilly, acquired in a blockbuster deal Friday at the NHL Draft, will have a new role next season. The Sabres want him to be one of the guys to shepherd a team filled with youngsters.

“I think it’s going to be …

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Joe Cecconi couldn't hide his excitement Saturday. ©2015, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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SUNRISE, Fla. – Youngstown native Joe Cecconi said he started getting “a little bit scared” as the NHL Draft wore on Saturday. The defense prospect still hadn’t been picked almost halfway through the fifth round.

“I was like something might not happen, I might not get chosen,” a smiling Cecconi said after the Dallas Stars selected him 133rd overall inside the BB&T Center. “But seeing Dallas was up and they called my name, the dream has started.”

Cecconi, who spent last season …

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Tim Murray speaks Sunday after firing Ted Nolan. ©2015, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
1

BUFFALO – For the first time since the Sabres replaced Ted Nolan following his initial run almost 18 years ago, the team must search for a new coach.

Yes, it has really been that long.

Lindy Ruff, Nolan’s replacement in 1997, lasted until 2013, when former Sabres general manager Darcy Regier quickly promoted Ron Rolston from Rochester as interim coach. Regier removed the interim tag following the season without interviewing anyone.

Nolan immediately took over as interim coach when owner Terry Pegula fired …

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Anders Lindback has a .934 save percentage with the Sabres. ©2015, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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BUFFALO – Anders Lindback likes to take a big-picture approach, so the Sabres goalie will examine his entire season when it ends. The Swede’s six-game hot streak means little to him right now.

The 26-year-old, a spare part before the March 2 trade deadline, has quickly morphed into a stud in net, posting a 2.41 goals-against average and a .934 save percentage in seven appearances (six starts) with his new club.

Lindback dazzled in his only win, making 44 stops in Tuesday’s …

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Evander Kane battles the Sabres' Zemgus Girgensons with Winnipeg. ©2015, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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BUFFALO – What will happen now? The Sabres were the NHL’s worst team before they traded Tyler Myers, Jhonas Enroth and Drew Stafford. The final 27 games could be brutal without their best defenseman, starting goalie and No. 3 scorer.

Myers skated a team-high 25 minutes a game, zooming all over the ice. Despite the Sabres’ porous defense, Enroth tended some strong goal all season. Stafford had nine of the club’s 97 goals and 24 points.

Wednesday’s trades decimated the league’s weakest …

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Jhonas Enroth started most of this season. ©2015, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
1

BUFFALO – The market for goalies this season is small. Most teams are set in net. Tim Murray had two soon-to-be free agents with starting experience on his roster, yet the Sabres general manager only received one call from an interested club.

“There’s very few that need a goalie right now,” Murray said Wednesday inside the First Niagara Center after trading goalie Jhonas Enroth to the Dallas Stars for 6-foot-6 goalie Anders Linback and a conditional 2016 third-round pick.

General manager Jim …

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Jason Spezza joined Dallas in the summer. ©2015, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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BUFFALO – Right away, Lindy Ruff and Jason Spezza buried the hatchet. For years, as Ruff coached the Sabres and Spezza starred for the Ottawa Senators, the two were adversaries.

At the height of the fierce post-lockout Sabres-Senators rivalry, Ruff sent Adam Mair on the ice to jump Spezza, a move that helped ignite the infamous 2007 brawl between the teams after Chris Neil leveled Sabres co-captain Chris Drury.

Spezza, who was dealt to Ruff’s Dallas Stars on July 1, brought up …

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Lindy Ruff talks to Patrick Eaves (18) today. ©2015, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
1

BUFFALO – Right away, Lindy Ruff and Jason Spezza buried the hatchet. For years, as Ruff coached the Sabres and Spezza starred for the Ottawa Senators, the two were adversaries.

At the height of the fierce post-lockout Sabres-Senators rivalry, Ruff sent Adam Mair on the ice to jump Spezza, a move that helped ignite the infamous brawl between the teams after Sabres co-captain Chris Drury was injured.

Spezza, who was dealt to Ruff’s Dallas Stars on July 1, brought up getting jumped …

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Chris Stewart could be traded soon. ©2015, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
0

BUFFALO – Ted Nolan wanted to rattle Chris Stewart’s chain a bit, get the enigmatic veteran thinking. The Sabres coach saw a big, powerful winger playing a soft game.

So Nolan challenged Stewart during a meeting shortly after the 27-year-old’s Dec. 9 benching.

Their chat got heated.

“He got mad, he got angry,” Nolan told the Times Herald on Friday inside HarborCenter. “I got a little bit angry myself. Sometimes people think I’m a mild-mannered guy, but I grew up on the other …

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