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, www.christianbruna.at

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

Mike Weber's the eighth Sabre to sign a European contract. ©2012, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Sabres’ Weber signs with Norwegian club

BUFFALO – Sabres defenseman Mike Weber has signed a contract to play with a Norwegian team in Lorenskog during the NHL lockout, according to a report.

Weber’s the eighth Sabre to sign overseas since the work stoppage began 62 days ago.

Defenseman Christian Ehrhoff, center Tyler Ennis, goalie Jhonas Enroth, defensemen Tyler Myers, Andrej Sekera and Alexander Sulzer and winger Thomas Vanek all signed European deals earlier. Vanek recently returned home.

The 24-year-old Weber... Read the full article

Jordan Leopold thinks last week's CBA negotiations restored some optimism to the process. ©2012, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Sabres players see CBA negotiations as one-sided

AMHERST – What the heck happens now? NHL labor talks finally appeared to be turning a corner last week, with a string of “secret” marathon negotiating sessions raising optimism a deal could be struck in the near future.

Both sides remained tight-lipped. They plowed through session and after session.

Then the collective bargaining agreement talks crumbled again. Sniping between the NHL and the Players’ Association has resumed.

“I think last week with us talking brought ... Read the full article

Rick Jeanneret's induction into the Sabres' Hall of Fame kicked off a string of honors, including today's, the Hockey Hall of Fame's Foster Hewitt Memorial Award. ©2012, Olean Times Herald

Sabres’ Jeanneret still going strong as Hall honor arrives

BUFFALO – The scene plays out just about each time Rick Jeanneret walks around in public. Inevitably, fans stop the Sabres’ legendary announcer and tell him how much they enjoy the team’s broadcast.

Then they make a short plea to the play-by-play veteran, whose enthusiasm and passionate calls have made him a local icon.

“The other thing they say is, ‘Please don’t retire,’” Jeanneret, who will be honored by the Hockey Hall of Fame on ... Read the full article