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

NHL’s month of game cancellations frustrates Sabres

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 ... Read the full article

Mark Pysyk blocks a shot in his professional debut Friday. ©2012, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

With Sabres’ ‘amazing’ opening night gone, attention has turned to Rochester

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 ... Read the full article

Steve Ott believes the lockout could erase the momentum the NHL generated over seven years. ©2012, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

NHL cancels 82 games, including 5 Sabres tilts

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 ... Read the full article

Thomas Vanek is only considering playing in his native Austria. ©2012, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Sabres’ Vanek thinking about taking game home to Austria

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 ... Read the full article

©2012

NHL begins canceling preseason games

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.... Read the full article

Tyler Ennis became a top scorer after switching to center last season. ©2012, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Whenever lockout ends, Sabres’ Ennis ready for explosive season

BUFFALO – The eight goals and 19 points Tyler Ennis generated over a rollicking 12-game stretch late last season could just be a harbinger, he believes. The center’s March exploits might’ve signaled the first signs of his impending superstardom.

“I think I’m ready to explode,” Ennis said Sunday, a day after signing a two-year, $5.625 million contract hours before the NHL lockout started.

Of course, Ennis and the Sabres can’t even play right now.

Instead ... Read the full article

©2012

Sabres to be broadcast nationally 15 times

BUFFALO – The Sabres will have 15 games broadcast nationally during the 2012-13 season.

The team has two games scheduled for NBC and 13 slated for NBC Sports Network, according to the NHL’s national television schedule, released Thursday. MSG will broadcast 70 Sabres games.

Of course, if the NHL locks out its players when the collective bargaining agreement expires Sept. 15, the schedule could change.... Read the full article

©2012

Rochester releases 2012-13 schedule

BUFFALO – Now you can start planning those trips to Rochester in the event of an NHL lockout, Sabres fans.

The Rochester Americans begin their 31st season as the Sabres’ AHL affiliate on Oct. 12 at the Blue Cross War Memorial against the Syracuse Crunch, a day before their parent club is scheduled to open its campaign at the First Niagara Center versus the Pittsburgh Penguins.

But with collective bargaining agreement talks stalling, who ... Read the full article

©2012

Sabres’ schedule revamped for next season

PITTSBURGH – The Buffalo Sabres’ 2012-13 schedule reflects a big philosophy change. The Friday night home games, a staple for years, have dwindled to just four. As a result, the constant strain of playing back-to-back games has lessened.

The team only plays on consecutive days a franchise-low 11 times next season. They led the NHL in back-to-back sets the last two, playing 22 and 21.

“(Owner) Terry Pegula tasked us with getting the best possible ... Read the full article

©2012

Sabres send Turnbull back to Rochester

BUFFALO – With winger Patrick Kaleta back from his three-absence – he’s wearing a cast on his right hand and reportedly has a broken thumb – the Sabres have returned Travis Turnbull to Rochester.

The rookie center scored his first NHL goal and fought once subbing for the agitator.

Kaleta, meanwhile, played only his 58th game this season Tuesday in Washington.

“It’s exciting,” Kaleta told reporters in Washington. “I honestly don’t really like sitting ... Read the full article