Usually when people talk about the weather, it's idle chitchat.
But a conference call involving the Buffalo mayor's office, the Buffalo Sabres and the NHL on Wednesday was serious business.
The sides were in contact throughout the day as Western New York braced for another snowstorm, and at 3:30 p.m. they decided, at the request of Mayor Anthony M. Masiello, to postpone the Sabres' game against the New Jersey Devils at HSBC Arena.
The game instead will be played tonight at 7:05 (Empire, 104.1 & 1330). Tickets for the originally scheduled game will be honored.
"Yes, both teams were there and the officials were there and this game could have gone on," NHL spokesman Frank Brown said. "But when the elected city official requests you act in a certain way, you say yes."
Masiello urged the postponement because the forecast called for the accumulation of snow to continue after the game was to start.
Masiello, certainly recalling the storm that hit Western New York Nov. 20 in which motorists deserted their vehicles even on the Interstates, wanted to keep the downtown streets as empty as possible to allow snow-clearing and emergency vehicles greater access.
"When a game gets postponed like this, it's not convenient for anybody, but you have to make the best of the situation," Sabres vice president of communications Michael Gilbert said. "I think everything is taken into consideration for the best interests of everybody involved. We had to make a judgment call by mid-afternoon before all the people started coming down to the arena. We tried to wait as long as we could, but we think we made the right choice."
The Sabres faced postponement of their Nov. 22 game against the Philadelphia Flyers at HSBC Arena as Western New York tried to shovel its way from under a mountain of snow. But the Buffalo-Niagara International Airport opened in time, the Flyers arrived that morning and the show went on.
The last time a game was postponed in Buffalo because of the weather was Dec. 10, 1995, against the Tampa Bay Lightning. The game was rescheduled for the following night, and the Lightning won, 6-1.
Buffalo had a game postponed on Nov. 16, 1996, against the Boston Bruins. That was the day the scoreboard at the arena crashed to the ice.
The Sabres are in the midst of five games over eight days, having started the stretch 2-1. With such a busy schedule, it's uncertain if the postponement helps or hurts the Sabres. They were coming off a 3-2 road win over the Montreal Canadiens Tuesday night.
But even with the night off the Sabres still have to play home and away on back-to-back nights. After tonight's game they will head to the airport for Friday's visit with the New York Rangers.
The Devils, meanwhile, weren't terribly put off by having their game in Buffalo pushed back a night. They don't play again until hosting the Washington Capitals Saturday afternoon.
Nevertheless, coach Larry Robinson wanted to ride the Devils' momentum after beating the Colorado Avalanche, 6-1, Tuesday night.
"I would have preferred to play (Wednesday night)," Robinson said. "We're here, we're ready to play and we're coming off a big game. We kind of lose momentum with a day off.
"But we'll do whatever we have to. There's certain things you don't have control over: the weather, death and taxes."The Devils are 6-1-2 in their last nine road games.