Jochen Hecht had enjoyed a regular spot in the lineup since 2002. ©2013, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Hecht benched so Sabres could add toughness

BUFFALO – Hours before scratching Jochen Hecht on Thursday, Ron Rolston praised the veteran’s play. Following practice this afternoon, the Sabres’ interim coach complimented the 35-year-old forward again.

So why did Rolston make Hecht, the Sabres’ longest-tenured player, a healthy scratch for the first time in his 10 seasons here?

“We had a lot of scenarios going on with players,” Rolston explained after the Sabres practiced inside Cazenovia Ice Rink. “We have a lot of good players. We wanted to get (tough guy) John (Scott) back in there in that environment with the last time we played (the Devils), it was a little testy. So we wanted to make sure we had some coverage, especially now that Patrick Kaleta was out. …

“Other than that, Jochen’s been playing real good hockey. So it’s more or less personnel and making sure we have the right pieces in there.”

Clearly, the benching has left Hecht, who has one goal and six points in 24 games, fuming. He wouldn’t talk to reporters prior to the Sabres’ 3-2 shootout loss in New Jersey or again today.

Rolston likes that anger.

“You want guys like that, no question,” he said. “You want to be disappointed about not being in the lineup. Again, he’s playing good hockey. It’s just a matter of having the right roster out there.”

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