DENVER — New York Rangers captain Ryan Callahan is on the market, but the Sabres aren’t shopping for him. At least not yet.
Multiple reports say New York has given teams permission to talk with Callahan’s agent about a sign-and-trade deal for the pending unrestricted free agent. The Sabres have not inquired about Callahan, a source with knowledge of the situation tells The Buffalo News.
Callahan, a Rochester native who will represent the United States at the Olympics, is finishing a three-year deal that pays $4.275 million annually. The 28-year-old winger has nine goals and 21 points in 39 games.
“I’m not going to talk about that stuff now,” Callahan told reporters Saturday in New York. “I don’t think it’s productive to the process, the negotiations or anything.”
Colorado was home to Joe Sacco during the previous four seasons. The former Avalanche coach finally made it back this weekend as an assistant with the Sabres, and it was quite a feeling.
“It’s a little strange,” Sacco said before Saturday’s 7-1 loss in Pepsi Center. “It feels good, though. It feels good to be back. This was a place that I was at for four years, and obviously you develop a lot of friendships with some people. It’s just a little strange.”
Sacco went 130-134-31 during his run on the Avs’ bench, and the organization let him go after missing the playoffs for third straight time last season. It’s not a surprise that his fondest memories are from the first year. Colorado went 43-30-9 to make an unexpected playoff appearance in 2009-10.
“Getting to the playoffs the first year after the season before it was pretty down, to get it turned around that quickly, the players did a really good job,” Sacco said. “That was something you always remember.”
It’s been a tumultuous ride for Sacco since joining Buffalo in July. Hired by ex-coach Ron Rolston, he’s worked alongside a relative stranger, Ted Nolan, since November. Though the assistants and head coach were thrown together on the fly, they’ve found common ground.
“It’s going well,” Sacco said. “Everybody’s starting to find their niche with Teddy now, their roles and their responsibilities and what we’re supposed to be doing as a coaching staff.”
Added Nolan: “It’s tough for anybody to get thrown in halfway through or a quarter of the way through. You haven’t had the luxury of going through training camp and getting to know the players as well as you should. Everything was brand new. It was kind of a hurdle to really get to know the players first, and then work with the coaching staff as we went along.
“We all know our roles and responsibilities. Things are going well. They prepare our team as well as anybody does, so it’s good.”
Though the Sabres fell hard Saturday, Sacco is impressed with the team’s improvement in some areas.
“The room, obviously, seems like it’s got some good energy at times even though right now we’re still struggling to find consistency in our game,” Sacco said. “It’s not from lack of effort most nights. It’s not from lack of passion, and I think those intangibles are the important things that you can instill in a club.
“Obviously, you want to do the X’s and O’s, but when the passion is there you always give yourself a chance to win.”
Christian Ehrhoff, who missed Thursday’s game in Phoenix due to illness, returned to the lineup. He skated in place of Alex Sulzer and had one assist and minus-1 rating in 22:37.
Thirteen of the Sabres’ 18 skaters had a minus next to their name. Tyler Myers was minus-4, while Henrik Tallinder and Matt Ellis were minus-3.
The tunnel vision coaches can have while preparing their team was on display in Denver. The downtown area is awash in orange as folks prepare to cheer the Broncos today in the Super Bowl.
“You know, I never even noticed,” said Nolan, whose club was staying in a Bronco-free hotel outside the city center. “We’re concentrating on what we doing here first, then I guess there’s a big game after us.”