BUFFALO – Josh Gorges considers himself old school. He believes defensemen should wear single-digit numbers. So after sporting No. 26 with the Montreal Canadiens for years, the veteran wanted a low number when the Sabres acquired him.
Gorges had a couple of choices. He settled on No. 4, partly because iconic Canadiens legend Jean Beliveau, who died Tuesday at age 83, wore it during his illustrious Hall of Fame career.
Beliveau is hockey royalty.
“What a great number to wear,” Gorges said this morning. “I got to meet him, and of all the guys I met in Montreal, he was always the one that stood out in my mind as, ‘This is who you should strive to be, this guy right here.’ I thought it would be something that could remind me every day when I come in, you see that No. 4. ‘Oh yeah, that’s right, Mr. Jean Beliveau, and he did things this way.’ So it’s a good reminder for myself every day.”
Sabres captain Brian Gionta wore the ‘C’ with Montreal for four seasons. Having both captained hockey’s most storied franchise, they shared a bond.
Gionta cherishes the time he spent with Beliveau.
“The talks that I’ve had with him, the private one-on-ones, (he was) the nicest guy ever,” he said. “He’d sit down with you, really engage with you. So I really enjoyed my time learning from him, talking to him, just being around him.”
Gionta said Beliveau “had that presence about him.”
“But at the same time was the biggest gentleman, down-to-earth, knew your name, took time for you, really engage with you, didn’t blow you off,” he said. “He was really connected when he talked to you.”
In other news, the Sabres will send center Tim Schaller, who practiced today inside the First Niagara Center and played in Tuesday’s 2-1 shootout win, back to Rochester, coach Ted Nolan said.
Forwards Cody McCormick (concussion protocol) and Drew Stafford (lower body) are available. McCormick will likely return Thursday in Tampa Bay. Goalie Jhonas Enroth will make his sixth straight start.