Boston's Jeremy Jacobs is believed to be the NHL's most hardline owner. ©2012, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Sabres players hoping meeting with owners will get labor talks rolling

AMHERST – Perhaps today’s meeting between players and owners in New York can facilitate some meaningful dialogue, even generate a breakthrough in the contentious negotiations between the NHL and the Players’ Association.

Eighty days into the NHL lockout, adding a fresh dynamic to the stale labor talks could be beneficial, some Buffalo Sabres players said.

“I don’t know if it will (facilitate dialogue), but it’s worth a shot,” Sabres winger Thomas Vanek said Monday after ... Read the full article

Jordan Leopold wants no part of a potential meeting between players and owners. ©2012, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Sabres players not interested in meeting owners

AMHERST – Mediation, as expected, failed to ignite talks between the NHL and the Players’ Association.

Seventy-seven days into the lockout, nothing has gotten the sides on the same page. The clock’s already ticking on the 2012-13 season.

So what about that meeting limited only to players and owners NHL commissioner Gary Bettman proposed Thursday after the two days of supervised talks broke down? Could that work?

Bettman and NHLPA executive director Don Fehr would ... Read the full article

Jason Pominville's joining his childhood friend, Yanick Lehoux, in Mannheim. ©2012, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Sabres captain Pominville to join Mannheim of German league

AMHERST – Buffalo Sabres captain Jason Pominville’s heading to the Mannheim Eagles of the DEL in Germany to play during the NHL lockout, he told the Times Herald today.

“If it does get settled quick, then I’ll be able to skate for a few weeks, a month – whatever it is,” Pominville said after skating inside the Northtown Center. “It’ll be a mini training camp. And if not, I’ll have a team for the rest ... Read the full article

Jason Pominville hopes mediation will bring new ideas to negotiations between the NHL and the NHL Players' Association. ©2012, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Sabres players hopeful mediation can lead to breakthrough

AMHERST – Mediation can’t hurt, right? Heck, with the NHL lockout now 75 days old, the league and the NHL Players’ Association desperately need something new to help jumpstart negotiations.

Why not get a third party involved?

That finally happened Wednesday at an undisclosed location, as the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service began overseeing negotiations between the league and the NHLPA.

“Hopefully, he can (lend) his opinion and bring some new ideas and make both ... Read the full article

Steve Ott believes NHL fans have a right to be angry. ©2012, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Sabres’ Ott wonders if lockout making NHL into ‘second-tier league’

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 ... Read the full article

Steve Ott thinks the NHL could become a second-tier sports league. ©2012, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Sabres’ Ott worries lockout permanently damaging NHL

BUFFALO – I just chatted with outspoken Sabres winger Steve Ott moments before the NHL canceled games through Dec. 14. Ott’s been a pretty vocal critic of the lockout, and he didn’t mince words today.

Here are some quick highlights:

On the NHL losing its place on the sporting landscape:

“The NHL (is) falling into almost a second-tier league compared to the NBA, NFL and Major League Baseball. I think they’re starting to accomplish taking ... Read the full article

Teppo Numminen represented Finland in four Olympics. ©2012, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Former Sabres defenseman Numminen earns IIHF Hall of Fame honor

BUFFALO – Former Sabres defenseman and current assistant coach Teppo Numminen, who won three Olympic medals representing his native Finland, will be inducted into the International Ice Hockey Federation Hall of Fame in May.

His father, Kalevi, was inducted as a builder 2011. The two will become the first father-son duo in the Hall of Fame.

Numminen played in four Olympics, winning silver in 1988 Calgary, bronze in 1998 in Nagano and silver in 2006 ... Read the full article

Thomas Vanek recently returned to Buffalo following a scorching run at home in Austria. ©2012, Christian Bruna,

Another European Sabres update

BUFFALO – So far, eight Sabres – about one-third of the roster – have taken temporary (or maybe not-so-temporary) European gigs during the NHL lockout. If the stoppage drags on, expect more to bolt overseas. Some Sabres have said they’ll look for work if there’s no agreement reached by Christmas or the beginning of 2013.

Remember, players aren’t going to Europe for the money. Most are receiving a pittance of what they should be getting ... Read the full article

Drew Schiestel made only three appearances with Rochester this season. ©2012, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Amerks send former top defense prospect Schiestel to ECHL

BUFFALO – Defenseman Drew Schiestel, a former second-round pick and AHL All-Star who was once on the verge of a recall to the Sabres, has been assigned from the AHL to the ECHL.

The Rochester Americans also sent defenseman Matt MacKenzie to the Greenville Road Warriors today.

The 23-year-old Schiestel, the 59th overall pick in 2007, earned an AHL All-Star berth with the Portland Pirates in 2010-11 and was thought to be the ... Read the full article

Jaroslav Spacek signed with Montreal in 2009 after three seasons with the Sabres. ©2012, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Former Sabres defenseman Spacek retires from NHL

BUFFALO – Former Sabres defenseman Jaroslav Spacek has retired from the NHL after 13 seasons, according to a report in his native Czech Republic.

The 38-year-old played three seasons with the Sabres, compiling 22 goals, 98 points and a plus-29 rating in 205 games from 2006-09.

Following a slow acclimation after signing as a free agent from Edmonton, Spacek became an offensive threat, a minute-muncher and a team leader.

Spacek had nine goals ... Read the full article