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Ruff

Andrew Peters is now a radio analyst. ©2014, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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Jarkko Ruutu has retired from his European team, according to Eliteprospects.com, meaning one of the greatest NHL pests of the last 15 or so years is finished. The 39-year-old Finn left the NHL almost four years ago after 652 games and an indelible mark as a supreme agitator.

When Ruutu played for the Ottawa Senators, the Sabres’ opponent tonight, he bit tough guy Andrew Peters’ thumb on Jan. 6, 2009. Yes, bit him.

Here’s what I wrote also six years ago during …

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Mike Weber fights Steve Downie on Saturday. ©2014, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
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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Mike Weber sat three games earlier this week. ©2014, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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BUFFALO – Following an embarrassing 5-0 loss one week 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.

“It was extremely tough,” Weber said this morning inside the First Niagara Center. “So I still don’t really understand what was going on there. It is what it is. …

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Terry Pegula's passion struck a chord with Sabres fans. ©2014, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
1

To a certain degree, the euphoria sweeping through Western New York today was felt once before, on Feb. 22, 2011, when Terry Pegula was introduced as the Sabres’ fourth owner.

Of course, Pegula’s reported purchase of the Buffalo Bills is much different.

While the Sabres weren’t in danger of moving, there was a feeling he had rescued the franchise. With the Sabres among the NHL’s bottom-feeders, it’s easy to forget now, but that day was among the most emotional sports days in …

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Drew Stafford and the Sabres play Oct. 11 in Chicago and host the Blackhawks on April 3. ©2014, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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BUFFALO – The Sabres’ 2014-15 schedule will get busy in a hurry, with the Oct. 9 season opener against the Columbus Blue Jackets inside the First Niagara Center starting a stretch of 11 games in 22 days. They then play 14 games in November, their most active month.

Two home games against superstar Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins, a Dec. 9 visit from the Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles Kings and an April 3 contest against South Buffalo native Patrick …

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Ville Leino found the Sabres took themselves too seriously when he first arrived. ©2014, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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BUFFALO – With Ville Leino’s Sabres career over, here’s a timeline of the enigmatic forward’s short three-year run. Expectations started high and, well, quickly dwindled.

Leino, as you’ll see, was never afraid to speak his mind.

July 1, 2011, the day the Sabres signed Leino to his infamous six-year, $27 million contract and switched him from wing to center:

“I talked to him about all three positions, and he’s comfortable at all three,” former Sabres coach Lindy Ruff said. “But his position that …

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Ville Leino's Sabres career could end today. ©2014, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
2

While it’s hard to believe now, Ville Leino’s arrival in Buffalo almost three years ago was greeted with some fanfare.

Back then, Leino was one of the best free agents on the market. Awarding Leino a stunning six-year, $27 million contract was risky. The Finn only had one full NHL season under his belt. But the signing proved the Sabres wanted to bring in the best talent they could and gun for a Stanley Cup.

Of course, Leino proved to be the …

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Chris Stewart tries to score on Jaroslav Halak during their first Sabres practice Sunday. ©2014, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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BUFFALO – They’re only human, you know. Leaving the St. Louis Blues, a legitimate Stanley Cup contender, for the rebuilding Sabres wasn’t easy at first for goalie Jaroslav Halak and winger Chris Stewart.

But the veterans, part of Friday’s blockbuster Ryan Miller-Steve Ott deal, have accepted they’re now playing for the NHL’s worst team, at least temporarily.

Rumors are swirling the Sabres will flip them before Wednesday’s trade deadline. Halak, an unrestricted free agent following the season, is believed to be wanted …

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Brad Boyes has 12 goals this season. ©2014, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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BUFFALO – Brad Boyes’ comeback generated no interest. The 31-year-old former Sabres winger rejuvenated his career last season beside star John Tavares and Matt Moulson on the New York Islanders’ No. 1 line.

Then, despite compiling 10 goals and 35 points in 48 games, Boyes couldn’t find a team during one of the oddest summers in NHL history.

With the salary cap coming down and rosters packed, plenty of notable veterans experienced similar situations.

“It didn’t work out with the Islanders … and …

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Lindy Ruff returned to Buffalo on Oct. 28. ©2014, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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Over the next few days, ace photographer Dan Hickling will be sharing and talking about some of his favorite shots from 2013.

Take it away, Dan …

When Lindy Ruff brought his Dallas Stars into Buffalo back on Oct. 28, it evoked a whole lot of memories. Some even felt that bringing a former Sabres coach back to the Buffalo bench would be a fine idea. (Little did anyone know that two weeks later, that very scenario would happen, albeit with a …

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