BUFFALO – Since Zach Bogosian joined the Sabres on Feb. 11, 2015, the defenseman has missed a whopping 114 games – 42 percent of his team’s outings – to injuries.
This season, Bogosian’s 10th in the NHL, was supposed to be his breakout campaign. If anyone could unlock his potential, it would be new Sabres coach Phil Housley, right?
Well, Housley, a Hall of Fame defenseman, never really had an opportunity. Bogosian played only 18 games in 2017-18, registering just a single assist.
After suffering a lower-body injury in the preseason finale, the Massena native missed the first 25 contests. In January, the Sabres announced he needed season-ending hip surgery.
“I’ve had a tough go with it,” Bogosian said April 9 as the Sabres cleaned out their lockers and held exit meetings inside KeyBank Center. “I try to remain positive. The group of guys in here have helped me though some pretty dark days, not being able to play.
“Saying that, no one wants to get surgery but I’m glad I got it done. Come back healthy, ready to go next year, make sure I have a good summer of training and go from there.”
Having spent so much time away from his teammates, does the affable Bogosian, 27, still feel like a part of the group moving forward?
“Yeah, I do,” he said. “Obviously, I’m in a little bit of a different position this year, with being injured and having surgery. I tried my best to be around the guys. I miss being on the road with the guys, miss all that stuff.
“So it’s something that I’m just trying to do my part, trying to be a leader and trying to be a good teammate.”
Bogosian, the third overall pick by the Atlanta Thrashers in 2008, hasn’t played more than 64 games in a full season with the Sabres.
On Tuesday, Sabres center Ryan O’Reilly and Edmonton Oilers superstar Connor McDavid spoke emotionally while visiting Saskatchewan, a province grieving after a bus crash killed 16 members of the beloved Humboldt Broncos junior hockey team on April 6.
According to the Regina Leader-Post, O’Reilly and McDavid visited four schools, talked to family members and toured the local arena before driving through a snowstorm to see players at Royal University Hospital in Saskatoon.
O’Reilly told reporters he wanted to “help put some smiles on some faces and just be a part of this community for a little (bit).”
“It weighs heavy to see the faces,” he said.
O’Reilly said the visit made him think back to his junior days.
“You think of how many bus trips you’ve been on and how close you are at that age when all the guys are around (the same age),” he said. “You all go to school together, you see each other so much. To have that torn apart, anything you can do to help that (is important).”
O’Reilly said at one school, a child wearing an Oilers shirt broke down crying when he saw McDavid.
“It was pretty special just to be a part of that and witness that, how coming here made such an impact,” he said.
Sherry Bassin, a junior hockey executive O’Reilly and McDavid know from their days with the Ontario Hockey League’s Erie Otters, traveled with them.
Sabres defenseman Victor Antipin’s rookie season ended March 31 when Nashville Predators veteran Scott Hartnell hit him from behind into the glass, knocking him out cold.
Antipin, 25, suffered a concussion, broken nose, facial lacerations and lost teeth.
The Russian said he woke up on the ice about three minutes later. He has watched replays of the hit. Still, he doesn’t have an opinion if it was dirty.
“Maybe I was relaxed,” Antipin said of positioning near the boards. “I don’t know. I don’t remember.”
Antipin, a KHL All-Star before signing a one-year NHL contract last year, moved in and out of the lineup all season, compiling zero goals and 10 assists in 47 games.
“It’s different,” he said of the NHL. “It’s harder than the KHL, yes. But it’s interesting.”
Antipin, a restricted free agent this summer, said he doesn’t have a plan for next season yet.
“I like to play here,” he said. “It’s a good league.”
Connor McDavid and Ryan O’Reilly were in Humboldt on Tuesday to visit some of the players and pay their respects.
— TSN Hockey (@TSNHockey) April 18, 2018