The next chapter in Patrick Kaleta’s professional hockey career will take him to Rochester.
The eight-year veteran with the Buffalo Sabres cleared waivers Sunday. With no team picking up the forward, the Sabres assigned him to the Americans of the American Hockey League.
The demotion came wrapped in language stating that the Sabres organization wanted Kaleta to work on adjusting his game after serving his fourth suspension since 2009.
“We’d love to have him in our organization,” coach Ron Rolston said after the Sabres lost, 6-3, to Anaheim on Saturday.
In the meantime, he will stay in the organization with Rochester, which next plays Wednesday at home against the Hamilton Bulldogs at Blue Cross Arena.
Kaleta, 27, is in the second season of a three-year deal that pays $1.25 million per season regardless of where he plays.
For the Sabres veterans, it’s a reminder of the business side of the game and the need to find a way to create better results.
“It’s tough. He’s another guy that’s been here with me seven years,” said Sabres forward Drew Stafford. “He’s a loyal soldier. Just a heck of a teammate. Heck of a guy. Puts his body on the line. It’s unfortunate circumstances.
“It’s just the reality of the situation. It’s unfortunate because it seems like he has a target on his back and he doesn’t have any slack whatsoever. The league has him on an extremely short leash. One little mistake like that cost him again and unfortunately, he was on the wrong side of another suspension.
“Like I said, it’s just the reality of the situation and the way it played out. It’s the business side of it. … At the same time you have to wish him well and focus on trying to win a freaking hockey game.”
For a period and change Saturday night, the Sabres looked as if they had found focus and spark. The First Niagara Center crowd was on their side, applauding the effort. Everyone was excited when the Sabres scored first, on the power play, taking a 1-0 lead for just the second time in the first 16 games of the season.
The addition of Corey Tropp to the lineup and the physical presence of Cody McCormick helped give the Sabres much-needed jump.
But the tide turned quickly. The great start everyone has been asking for fizzled into despair in the second period.
“We’ve talked about it a ton, about having good first periods, and it was finally nice to get out there,” said Cody Hodgson, who scored the first goal. “Tropper brought a lot of energy. I thought Cody McCormick and those guys had real energy and they brought it to the team and the team responded. Our defense was stepping up and I thought we had a real even first period.
“But then the wheels kind of fell off there in the second and we gave them too many in the third, too. … Just it seemed like we were with them and then all of a sudden they just took off. I can’t say any more than that.”
The Sabres were off Sunday and travel today to California for a three-game West Coast swing.
Buffalo plays at San Jose on Tuesday, at Los Angeles on Thursday and at Anaheim on Friday. The Sabres return to Buffalo for a home game against Los Angeles on Nov. 12.