The Calgary Flames may not be the West Coast doppelganger of the Buffalo Sabres, but the two clubs certainly have some things in common.
Both are struggling to find ways to win as the Flames find themselves second from the bottom in the NHL’s Western Conference while the Sabres are in the basement of the Eastern Conference.
Both have struggled to be playoff teams.
And both are now searching for general managers.
While the Sabres are a month into the new regime with Pat LaFontaine as president of hockey operations and Ted Nolan as interim coach, the Flames come to Buffalo for today’s 2 p.m. game at First Niagara Center just a few days into their GM search.
Brian Burke, Calgary’s president of hockey operations, fired GM Jay Feaster and assistant GM John Weisbold on Thursday. Burke challenged the Flames to play more aggressively.
The Flames failed to hold a third-period lead in their game Thursday with Carolina, but they did come back to earn an overtime win.
It was Chris Butler who scored the game-winner with an assist from Paul Byron – both former Sabres who were traded to Calgary in the summer of 2011 for Robyn Regeher and Ales Kotalik.
“It was a tough morning,” Butler said after Thursday’s game. “Obviously, kind of surprising when Burke comes down to the locker room and delivers that type of news. Jay’s been such a good guy to all of us here. It’s tough to see a guy like that go. He’s pretty responsible for bringing a lot of guys in. We certainly wish him the best, and it’s nice to get a win today.”
Cody Hodgson did not practice on Friday and was a scratch from Thursday’s game in Ottawa with a lower body injury.
“Cody is still a little sore,” Nolan said. “He didn’t feel very well so one more day.”
The coach added that there is a possibility for Hodgson to be in the lineup today.
Also missing from practice was forward John Scott. While his play in Thursday’s loss was uninspiring – two penalties, a minus-2 and no ice time after midway through the second period – he was absent for a much happier reason.
“John, I’m happy to say he’s a brand new daddy again,” Nolan said. “I’ll let John say all the good news, but he’s a proud man today for sure.”
Fans attending today’s game can purchase holiday ornaments autographed by one of the Sabres players for a $20 donation to benefit the Buffalo Sabres Foundation.
The ornaments, which are sold gift-wrapped to keep the autograph hidden from the buyer, will be sold on the 100 level pavilion starting at noon.
Youth hockey teams ages 8-16 in Western New York and Southern Ontario are invited to submit entries to become one of the HarborCenter’s teams of the month.
Nominations must be made through the Facebook page (www.facebook.com/harborcenter) by midnight, Jan. 12. Entries will be selected based on on-ice accomplishments, scholastic achievements and community involvement.