Jack Eichel served as an alternate captain during the preseason. ©2017, Hickling Images, Olean Times Herald

Sabres’ decision-makers still discussing vacant captaincy

BUFFALO – It’s starting to look like the Sabres will begin the season without a captain.

Sabres coach Phil Housley said this morning, three days before the season opener, no announcement is set for “the immediate future.”

“We’re still evaluating that part of who’s going to wear a letter,” Housley said inside KeyBank Center. “We have a good leadership group in there. That’s something that the coaches will be talking (about) today and tomorrow.”

Instead of using a temporary captain during the preseason, Housley used three alternates each game, giving several players, including third-year center Jack Eichel, an ‘A.’

The Sabres didn’t re-sign former captain Brian Gionta.

One theory has the Sabres waiting a year to name a new captain and giving it to Eichel then.

Following an intense practice Sunday, the Sabres stayed off the ice today. Why?

“It’s a long week,” Housley said. “I thought it was just a good time just to push the pace yesterday, a little bit more compete in our practice.”

Clearly, Housley, whose team had a full day off Saturday, wants his players well-rested, even in October. Some coaches would take any opportunity to put their team on the ice now.

Expect Housley to utilize HarborCenter, the practice facility across the street, more than previous coaches, who only used it when KeyBank Center was booked. Housley likes having two fresh sheets of ice available.

“It’s always good to try to do the things we’re trying to do at high tempo, high pace,” he said. “A fresh sheet of ice does that. I think mentally the guys feel better and they feel faster. They’re not on the ice for 40 minutes on the same sheet. The snow can get built (up).”

Housley on the 3-1 Buffalo Bills, who beat the Falcons 23-17 on Sunday in Atlanta:

“I just want to congratulate (coach) Sean (McDermott) on a huge win in Atlanta yesterday. That’s big for their ball club. Hopefully, we can jump on their backs with the enthusiasm that the Bills have brought up to this point. But it’s great to see the Bills are having success.”

Housley said Sabres defenseman Zach Bogosian, who suffered a lower-body injury in Friday’s preseason finale, is still day-to-day.

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