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Fans will have more opportunities to see Cody Hodgson and Jordan Leopold up close. ©2013, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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BUFFALO – Beginning with Friday’s game against Boston, fans can purchase last-minute tickets to Sabres contests at the First Niagara Center through the new “Sabres Standby” program, the team announced today.

Fans can sign up to be part of a queue of potential ticket-buyers at sabres.com/standby starting at 7 p.m. tonight and be eligible to purchase from a limited quantity of tickets.

The NHL’s new collective bargaining agreement requires each team to reserve an increased number of tickets for players, referees and …

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Drew Stafford and the Sabres open the season next Sunday at home against the Philadelphia Flyers. ©2013, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
1

BUFFALO – Get ready for a hectic pace, Sabres fans.

The team’s lockout-shortened 48-game, conference-only 2012-13 schedule will be completed in only 97 days.

The slate, which starts with an afternoon tilt next Sunday against the Philadelphia Flyers inside the First Niagara Center, features some odd quirks and new twists.

With 10 of their final 14 games at home, including the April 26 season finale against the New York Islanders, the Sabres could have a huge advantage over other teams.

Other interesting schedule notes:

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Seats in NHL arenas could stay empty the entire season. ©2012, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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BUFFALO – Seven more Sabres contests were erased with the NHL’s sixth round of game cancellations today. With all games through Jan. 14 canceled, 42 Sabres tilts – 51.2 percent of their 82-game schedule – have been axed 96 days into the lockout.

The league has now canceled 625 games, a shocking 50.8 percent of the season.

Sadly, the next set of cancellations could be the biggest – the rest of the season.

While no drop-dead date has been set, mid-January would probably …

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Cody McCormick called the NHL's latest round of cancellations "terrible." ©2012, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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AMHERST – Of course, the NHL’s fifth round of cancellations – games from Saturday through Dec. 30, including eight more Buffalo Sabres contests – was only a formality. The league had been expected to axe more games after collective bargaining negotiations with the NHL Players’ Association imploded last week.

Still, knowing something will happen doesn’t always soften the blow.

“It’s terrible,” Sabres forward Cody McCormick said about the cancellations Monday after skating inside the Northtown Center. “We wanted to play an 82-game …

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Steve Ott believes NHL fans have a right to be angry. ©2012, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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BUFFALO – Seventy days later, the NHL lockout has claimed 422 games, including 27 Sabres tilts after the league made its third round of cancellations Friday.

With no negotiating sessions scheduled and Wednesday’s new offer by the NHL Players’ Association – one the union has said is about as good as the players will make – dismissed quickly, it’s fair to wonder if the 2012-13 season will even be played.

In Steve Ott’s mind, the damage sustained each day of the work …

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Drew Stafford still remains optimistic NHL hockey will be played this season. ©2012, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
1

AMHERST – Now the NHL has canceled all of its games through November, including 11 more Buffalo Sabres contests. Twenty Sabres tilts – 24.4 percent of the 82-game slate – have been axed 42 days into the lockout.

All together, the NHL’s second lockout since 2004-05 has claimed 326 games, a whopping 26.5 percent of the league’s schedule.

It’s almost impossible to argue any other way: Friday was a dark day for hockey. An abbreviated regular season is the best-case scenario for …

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Mark Pysyk blocks a shot in his professional debut Friday. ©2012, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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ROCHESTER – The 42nd opening night in Buffalo Sabres history would’ve been “huge,” winger Drew Stafford said, even “amazing.” New seasons breed hope and optimism, and if the NHL lockout wasn’t in its 28th day, both would be sweeping through Buffalo right now.

The club was scheduled to host Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins tonight inside a capacity First Niagara Center.

The Sabres, healthy and stocked with offseason reinforcements, might’ve been considered a chic Eastern Conference contender again. Their dizzying late-season …

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Steve Ott believes the lockout could erase the momentum the NHL generated over seven years. ©2012, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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BUFFALO – The NHL lockout has now claimed regular-season games, with 82 over the first two weeks – including five Sabres contests – getting canceled Thursday.

With recent collective bargaining agreement talks going nowhere and no new sessions scheduled, more games will almost certainly be wiped out soon.

Sadly, this could only be the beginning. The work stoppage hits the three-week mark Sunday.

“I am shocked, yeah, in essence because … the guys are willing to play and work on getting a deal …

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Thomas Vanek is only considering playing in his native Austria. ©2012, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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AMHERST – Right now, Thomas Vanek’s a bit torn. Like the other Sabres, the winger simply wants to play NHL games. But Vanek might have the most intriguing option of any locked-out player.

Vanek can return home to play in his native Austria, where he’s a national hero. The 28-year-old has never played professionally at home. He left for North America 14 years ago.

His arrival would be a huge deal.

“It would be a change. It would be definitely fun,” Vanek said …

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©2012
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
0

BUFFALO – The NHL lockout has forced the cancellation of all preseason games through Sept. 30, knocking four of the Sabres’ seven contests off the slate.

Sabres games canceled are: Monday at Montreal; home Wednesday against Boston; home Sept. 28 against Toronto; Sept. 29 at Toronto.

The Sabres plan to contact ticket holders with refund information for the canceled First Niagara Center games.

The NHL’s third lockout since 1994 began Sunday.

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