One of the highlights of the Buffalo Sabres’ season last year was their exhibition in Mannheim, Germany. The Sabres were awed by the rollicking crowd, which sang, chanted and stood for hours to turn the game into an unforgettable party. Jason Pominville will get to experience it again.
The Sabres’ captain has signed with Adler Mannheim of the German elite league and will join the team next week. He and his family will leave Buffalo on Monday.
“When we played there it was really fun,” Pominville said by phone Friday. “The crowd was great. I think it’s one of the best places to play in Germany. They treat their players really nice.”
Pominville and his agent, Normand Dupont, have been talking with Mannheim since the NHL lockout began in September. Pominville balked earlier because of insurance issues, but he’s fully covered now.
“The timing is right for me and for them,” Pominville said. “I just want to play. We’ve been fortunate our skates at Northtown Center have been good. We’ve got a pretty good group of guys, but there’s nothing like playing games and having organized, structured practices. That’s basically why I decided to go now.
“If we do end up playing, we’re probably not going to play for another two weeks to a month, so it gives me basically a mini training camp where I can get into shape and do what I need to get ready when it starts and if it starts.”
Pominville will be one of eight Sabres skating overseas, joining Christian Ehrhoff and Alexander Sulzer (Germany), Tyler Myers and Tyler Ennis (Switzerland), Andrej Sekera (Slovakia), Jhonas Enroth (Sweden) and Mike Weber (Norway).
Pominville has watched as negotiations between the NHL and the union regressed recently. The league’s most recent offer was to have owners and players meet directly, with Commissioner Gary Bettman and NHLPA Executive Director Donald Fehr not in the room. The union is analyzing the proposal.
“I don’t know if I agree with it,” Pominville said. “Hopefully, something good can come of it. At the same time, we’ve worked so hard to get Don, I don’t see why we wouldn’t want him in the room.”