BUFFALO – As a two-time Stanley Cup winner with the Los Angeles Kings, Jordan Nolan’s hockey fame has brought him some influence in the First Nations community.
“We’re in a position where a lot of young Native men look up to us,” Nolan said Tuesday prior to the Sabres’ 6-3 win against the Kings inside KeyBank Center. “We’re role models, so I think we have to take that pretty seriously.”
So Nolan, 27, and teammate Dwight King recently spoke out about the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation in North Dakota, where thousands of Native Americans and activists have been protesting the proposed Dakota Access Oil Pipeline near the Missouri River, which provides fresh water for the reservation.
“We know how our people are and how they stand up for what they believe in,” Nolan said.
Last week, Nolan tweeted a photo of a shirt in his locker that read “I Stand With Standing Rock,” a shirt King, who also has First Nations heritage, recently wore. Nolan also tweeted a 17-minute documentary about Standing Rock called “Defend The Sacred.”
“It’s an important issue for our people, our land and our culture,” said Nolan, the son of former Sabres coach Ted Nolan. “We thought we’d kind of speak on it a little bit, kind of help bring more awareness to the issue.”
Hockey players, of course, are not known for speaking out on social issues.
The Army Corps of Engineers announced Dec. 3 the pipeline should be moved.
“Even if you asked half the guys in this room, they probably wouldn’t know what’s going on,” Nolan said. “It definitely didn’t get too much coverage. But as it started to get more popular and people are reading about it and tweeting about it, (you) definitely kind of realized what people have been through in the past.”
Nolan’s First Nations heritage is close to his heart. He said his family is “traditional” and his father is “proud of who he is.”
“He instilled that in me and my brother (Brandon),” Nolan said. “That’s the way we were raised. We grew up going to pow-wows and kind of doing our traditions.”
What is Ted Nolan, who was fired by the Sabres following the 2014-15 season, up to these days? He recently opened a Tim Hortons in Six Nations, a reserve in Southern Ontario, Jordan said.
Ted Nolan would like to coach again, Jordan said.
“Right now, I think he’s definitely just enjoying being around his family,” he said.
It was just an innocent play. Early in the Sabres’ 2-1 loss Nov. 1 in Minnesota, defenseman Zach Bogosian said he pinched down in the offensive zone.
“I just caught a rut and my knee just kind of went in,” Bogosian said. “It was kind of a freak thing. … Sometimes the ice will get you. Unfortunately, my knee kind of went the wrong way.”
Bogosian, who skated with his teammates again Tuesday morning, has missed the last 18 games.
“I feel like I’m pretty close,” he said. “I don’t think any game’s out of reach for me.”
Bogosian said he doesn’t have a target date. He plans to practice Thursday. The Sabres also play Friday and Saturday
The Sabres sorely miss Bogosian’s puck-moving skills. The Massena native is the only regular defenseman still out. Josh Gorges and Dmitry Kulikov recently returned from injuries.
The biggest part of his recovery, Bogosian said, is getting used to wearing a knee brace.
“Just … a little weird,” he said. “I’ve never had to wear one in my life.”
Bogosian was also hurt early last season, when a lower-body injury cost two months.
“I can’t get frustrated,” he said. “That’s one thing I’ve always been able to do in the past is stay mentally strong and stay ready.”
“I figured sooner or later we’d play together,” Okposo said.
Sabres center Derek Grant, out last game with the flu, was a healthy scratch for the first time this season.