In the lexicon of player development, there is something to be said for learning how to win.
In other words, it’s not only about individual skill development or gaining experience against increasingly better competition. It’s also about learning what it takes, from both an individual and collective effort, to win.
Which is why Buffalo Sabres general manager Tim Murray and coach Ted Nolan want to see the Rochester Americans succeed.
The Amerks are on a three-game winning streak and fighting for an American Hockey League playoff spot. They’re in the eighth spot in the Western Conference with games Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
But mounting injuries on the Sabres roster result in pulling players out of Rochester and up to the NHL level where the parent club desperately needs healthy bodies.
The Sabres already have both the Amerks’ goalies - Matt Hackett and Nathan Lieuwen although Lieuwen is now out with a concussion.
Other key Amerks on the Sabres roster include leading goal scorer Luke Adam, forward Johan Larsson and defenseman Chad Ruhwedel. And add Ruhwedel to the injury list after he suffered a concussion Sunday night in Philadelphia.
“Would we love our players to be down there getting experience and winning? Certainly,” Nolan said. “But unfortunately with the injuries we just called up Luke Adam on them. Luke’s a very big player for them down there. We’ve got Larsson here. Chad’s here. Both their goaltenders are here.
“In a perfect world we’d like them down there to continue to grow. I believe you develop in winning situations and those kids can get good experience by winning. But right now it is what it is. We’re starting to get a little healthier and we might be able to help out Rochester a little bit.”
Zac Rinaldo was given a four-game suspension for his hit on Ruhwedel in Sunday’s game in Philadelphia.
Rinaldo hit Ruhwedel at 4:29 of the third period as the defenseman had just let go a shot from the blueline. Rinaldo received a match penalty for the hit to the head and vice president for player safety Brendan Shanahan issued the suspension Monday afternoon.
In describing the offense in the NHL video, director of player safety Patrick Burke said that Rinaldo had a “poor angle of approach and does not make full body contact. Instead he launches into Ruhwedel with force, picking his head and making it the main point of contact.”
Nolan had little comment about the possible suspension earlier in the day on Monday.
“The league will take care of that, but they’ve seen the same thing we’ve all seen so I’m quite sure they’ll do what’s required,” Nolan said.
Matt Hackett will get the start in goal tonight for the Sabres who will be looking to add a back-up goaltender with Lieuwen out with a concussion. … On the injury progression chart, Zenon Konopka practiced with the team Monday. He said that it’s up to the doctors and trainers if he will be cleared. … Drew Stafford did not practice but skated on his own. He has missed two games and Nolan said it might not be until Thursday when Stafford returns.