Mike Kostka played two seasons with the Sabres' old affiliate in Portland. ©2013, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Former Sabres prospect Kostka finally living NHL dream with Leafs

TORONTO – Mike Kostka was one day away from ditching his NHL dream, all set to take a gig playing overseas.

The 27-year-old Maple Leafs rookie couldn’t find any good work in North America. Despite two solid seasons with the Buffalo Sabres’ top affiliate in Portland, the team hadn’t tendered the defenseman a contract in 2010, making him a free agent.

Then Kostka’s friend, an AHL player named Marco Rosa, stopped over Kostka’s home a ... Read the full article

Steve Ott and the Sabres enjoyed a nice opening-day win Sunday. ©2013, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Sabres looking to break 5-game skid against Leafs at ACC

TORONTO – The Air Canada Centre, once the Buffalo Sabres’ favorite visiting rink, is now a house of horrors.

After winning eight in a row at the ACC, the Sabres have lost five straight games here dating back to March 12, 2011. They haven’t won here Nov. 6, 2010, a 3-2 shootout triumph in which backup goalie Jhonas Enroth earned his first NHL victory.

The Sabres’ 4-3 loss here in their last visit March 30 ... Read the full article

Thomas Vanek tucks the tying goal past Philadelphia goalie Ilya Bryzgalov on Sunday. ©2013, Dan Hicking, Olean Times Herald

Vanek’s career day pushes Sabres past Flyers in opener

BUFFALO – It was as if nine months hadn’t passed. One game into a new season, the Sabres kept exorcising their old demons, picking up where they left off last winter and spring during an exciting 5-2 triumph over the Philadelphia Flyers on Sunday inside a noisy First Niagara Center.

Thomas Vanek enjoyed an opening day that will forever live in Sabres lore, recording two goals and a career-high five points to start the lockout-shortened ... Read the full article

Mikhail Grigorenko skated 15 shifts during his NHL debut Sunday. ©2013, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Grigorenko, Ott impress in Sabres debuts

BUFFALO – Ten minutes after the Sabres’ 5-2 opening-day win over the Philadelphia Flyers had ended, Steve Ott was still thinking about that nifty chance beside the net slick rookie center Mikhail Grigorenko had created for him.

Sure, Ott was excited about his power-play goal that opened the scoring just 11:07 into his Sabres debut. But the opportunity that had gotten away was still playing inside his head at bit.

“I kind of feel bad. ... Read the full article

Marcus Foligno poses for a photo with a fan this morning inside the First Niagara Center. ©2013, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Your Sabres pregame update

BUFFALO – All seems forgiven. The hockey-deprived Sabres fans look amped for this afternoon’s season opener against the Philadelphia Flyers. Thanks to the NHL 113-day lockout, it’s been 288 days since the Sabres last played a game.

Right now, however, it feels like the NHL never left. The First Niagara Center will be packed and jumping today. Fans spent the week gobbling up discounted merchandise and wondering if 18-year-old Mikhail Grigorenko could crack the lineup ... Read the full article

Darcy Regier has owner Terry Pegula's support. ©2013, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Sabres GM Regier receives extension; Pegula apologizes for lockout

BUFFALO – To his supporters, Darcy Regier’s a victim. Poor ownership handcuffed the general manager multiple times. Look at the Sabres teams he built, they say. The 1998-99 club came within two games of the Stanley Cup. Two dynamic post-lockout teams also nearly won it all.

If he had been given more tools or just some help re-signing his own talent, who knows how far the Sabres could’ve gone?

Regier’s detractors believe he should’ve been ... Read the full article

Ville Leino's questionable for this afternoon's season opener. ©2013, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Sabres’ Leino questionable for opener; Grigorenko set for debut

BUFFALO – The Sabres have their first injury of the lockout-shortened 2012-13 season.

“A nagging little” problem that flared up kept Ville Leino from practicing Saturday, coach Lindy Ruff said.

The winger’s questionable for this afternoon’s season opener against the Philadelphia Flyers inside the First Niagara Center.

Leino, who left practice early Friday, plans to skate this morning before making a decision. It’s believed he’s nursing a leg injury.

“If he feels like he’s good, ... Read the full article

Darcy Regier has been the Sabres' general manager since 1997. ©2013, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Sabres extend GM Regier

BUFFALO – Darcy Regier isn’t going anywhere.

Sabres owner Terry Pegula announced a contract extension for his general manager this afternoon during a news conference on the eve of the season opener. No details were provided.

Regier, the team’s general manager since 1997, last signed an extension in the fall of 2010.

“I am very grateful and honored to be able to continue in this capacity working with this ownership,” Regier said inside the Lexus ... Read the full article

Mikhail Grigorenko could make his NHL debut Sunday. ©2013, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Top prospect Grigorenko makes 23-man roster; Sabres mum on status for opener

BUFFALO – The Sabres first planted the seeds almost seven months ago inside the Consol Energy Center. Mikhail Grigorenko, the slick center that had just fallen to them 12th overall at the NHL Entry Draft, would be given every chance to play in the big leagues immediately, they said.

The strong words from the team’s brass that June night in Pittsburgh resonated. The Sabres hadn’t had an 18-year-old play regularly for them since center ... Read the full article

Mikhail Grigorenko chats with Kevyn Adams today. ©2013, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Grigorenko makes Sabres’ 23-man opening-day roster

BUFFALO – Not surprisingly, first-round pick Mikhail Grigorenko made the 23-man regular-season roster the Sabres announced this afternoon.

But will the 18-year-old center be in Sunday afternoon’s opening-day lineup?

“I could’ve stepped up here and asked that question,” Sabres coach Lindy Ruff joked as he began fielding questions this afternoon inside the First Niagara Center. “Mikhail’s had a good week. Obviously, I’m not going to give you that decision right now. We got another practice ... Read the full article