Jhonas Enroth plans to return home to Sweden later this week. ©2012, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Sabres exploring options as lockout drags on

AMHERST – A deal had finally been reached. After two weeks of prodding from his friend, locked-out Sabres goalie Jhonas Enroth agreed he would play one game for a local pizzeria’s beer league team.

On Tuesday, an excited Enroth announced the “one-game contract” to his more than 20,000 Twitter followers.

“Debut is tomorrow at 10 pm at Buff State,” he wrote.

Enroth tweeted again about an hour later.

“Alright. Agent just called. No game with ... Read the full article

Thomas Vanek's stay in his native Austria could be brief. ©2012, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Sabres’ Vanek heading to Austria

BUFFALO – It’s just temporary for now. Thomas Vanek’s contract with the Graz 99ers, a team in the winger’s native Austria, only runs until Nov. 4.

Nonetheless, Vanek’s decision to return home during the lockout is already a big deal. He’s the first Austrian NHL player to sign a deal there.

The Sabres star, a sporting icon in Austria, has never played professionally in his country.

“This is just huge,” said Chris Schleifer, the online ... Read the full article

Marcus Foligno established himself as a top NHL talent late last season. ©2012, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Sabres stuck in Rochester trying to embrace unique opportunity

BUFFALO – They’re back for another unexpected AHL run, kicked to the minors again by the NHL lockout.

Marcus Foligno dominated at times during his late-season recall, compiling six goals and 13 points in a rollicking 12-game stretch. By mid-March, the winger had become a star and a Sabres fan favorite.

Center Cody Hodgson, meanwhile, established himself as a regular last year, scoring 19 goals while setting a league record for road appearances.

Both would ... 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

Jason Pominville plans to play an exhibition game tonight in Quebec. ©2012, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Locked-out Sabres pursuing new jobs

AMHERST – Following another informal skate Wednesday, Jason Pominville packed up his hockey equipment, hopped in the car and drove home seven hours to Montreal.

It’s that hard for the locked out NHL players to find a game these days.

The Sabres captain said he’ll play tonight in the Quebec Caravan League, a charity exhibition series pitting players from Montreal against others from around the province. The contests should resemble intense shinny, he said.

His ... Read the full article

Mark Mancari's new AHL contract will allow him to bypass waivers. ©2012, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Sabres ink 5 to AHL deals

BUFFALO – The Rochester Americans have signed five players under two-way contracts to AHL deals.

The separate contracts allowed the players – goalie Dave Leggio, defensemen T.J. Brennan, Joe Finley and Drew Schiestel and winger Mark Mancari – to bypass waivers from the Sabres to the minors during a special period the NHL created earlier this month prior to the lockout.

The Amerks begin training camp later this week.... Read the full article

Tyler Ennis can't wait to begin playing in Switzerland. ©2012, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Sabres’ Ennis heading to Switzerland for lockout

BUFFALO – Tyler Ennis couldn’t pass up what he called a “perfect opportunity.”

Instead of skating daily at a local rink waiting for the NHL lockout to end, the slick Sabres center is heading to Switzerland to play for the SCL Tigers, a team in the country’s top hockey division, National League A. Minnesota defenseman Jared Spurgeon, Ennis’ best friend, will be joining him.

“I have a good opportunity to stay in game shape,” Ennis ... 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

Jordan Leopold insists the locked-out players have hope. ©2012, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Sabres trying to remain upbeat as lockout practices begin

AMHERST – Now they’re officially on their own, locked out and barred from any contact with the organization. About 12 Buffalo Sabres regulars skated with some prospects Monday morning inside the Northtown Center, the first of possibly dozens of practices without a regular coaching staff.

The team employees who had recently assisted with informal skates have left. Other than the Sabres logo on their jerseys, something the players could soon ditch, the symbol has almost ... 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