Tim Murray has been talking with NHL officials. ©2014, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Sabres want to be vocal with NHL, upset about Zac Rinaldo’s suspension

BUFFALO – Sabres general manager Tim Murray recently asked coach Ted Nolan to tell him everything that was happening.


“Because we’re going to complain about it,” Murray told Nolan.

The Sabres are angry the NHL only suspended Flyers agitator Zac Rinaldo four games for elbowing defenseman Chad Ruhwedel in the head late in Sunday’s 5-2 loss in Philadelphia.

Ruhwedel is home recovering from a concussion and out indefinitely. Rinaldo, meanwhile, can play again next week.

Nolan said Murray “has probably made a number of calls already.”

“I’m quite sure he’s going to be vocal on this one,” Nolan said Tuesday prior to the Sabres’ 4-2 loss to the Detroit Red Wings inside the First Niagara Center.

Nolan kept voicing his displeasure about head hits Tuesday morning. He started shaking his head when asked about Rinaldo’s ban.

“You’re not talking about injuries (where) you knock a guy out for a week or two weeks,” Nolan said. “You can knock his career right off the tracks. We all see what concussions do to some of our athletes after the fact. So it’s a very, very serious thing. I think we got to take it a lot more serious than just four games.”

He added: “Unfortunately, something serious has to happen before rules come into place.”

Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren called Rinaldo’s suspension “harsh.”

“It’s frustrating because you’re talking about a person,” Nolan said. “You’re not talking about losing a player for four games.”

He added: “I think we got to suspend very stiffly and harshly. Those things you can avoid.”

Nolan said Murray was also shown video of Jay Rosehill’s high hit that concussed goalie Nathan Lieuwen. Nolan believes Murray has already called the NHL.

“That was another legitimate headshot,” Nolan said.

Lieuwen, who has a scary concussion history, is home resting, Nolan said.

The NHL hasn’t sided with the Sabres much recently. Agitator Patrick Kaleta received a 10-game ban as a repeat offender for hitting Columbus’ Jack Johnson in the head Oct. 10. Kaleta was banished to the AHL weeks later to refine his play before suffering a season-ending knee injury.

Tough guy John Scott was suspended seven games as a first-time offender for hitting Boston’s Loui Eriksson in the head Oct. 23.

Of course, those incidents took place under the Sabres’ old regime. Murray clearly wants to change the team’s standing with the league.

Originally, the right ankle injury Chris Stewart suffered March 6 was supposed to shelve the Sabres winger the rest of the season.

But Stewart said he “really turned the corner” a couple of weeks ago. At that point, the 26-year-old decided he would push to return this season.

Stewart, who arrived from St. Louis on Feb. 28, played third game with the Sabres on Tuesday.

Why come back with just four games left in a miserable season?

“I think it’s a pride thing,” Stewart said Tuesday morning. “I wasn’t really willing to accept my season to be done in the beginning of March considering that’s going to be a long offseason.”

Stewart, a 6-foot-2, 231-pound power forward, skated on the right wing beside center Tyler Ennis and Marcus Foligno against Detroit.

Nolan loves bullish presences and has spoken highly of Stewart, who has two 28-goal seasons.

“Stewart’s a power forward in the real sense of the word,” Nolan said. “He’s a big man. He can play any way you want to play.”

Following the game, Nolan said Stewart and Foligno, who also returned, looked rusty.

But Stewart wreaked havoc in the Sabres’ 3-1 win in Tampa Bay before Lightning goalie Anders Lindback hit him as the two chased a loose puck.

At first, it appeared Stewart had hurt his knee. The injury looked awful.

“If you see the pictures, it obviously could’ve been a six-to-eight month rehab,” he said.

Winger Torrey Mitchell also returned Tuesday. Mitchell and Stewart hadn’t played at home yet.

Scott, center Zenon Konopka (who’s healed) and winger Ville Leino were healthy scratches.

The Sabres recalled rookie goalie Andrey Makarov from Rochester to replace Lieuwen. Makarov will go back to the Americans on Friday to boost their playoff chances.

Then where do the Sabres find a goalie?

“That’s where Tim has to work his magic,” Nolan joked.

The Sabres summoned defenseman Mark Pysyk for Ruhwedel and sent Luke Adam back to the Amerks. The rookie played his first NHL game since Jan 18.

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