As a parent blessed with a healthy family, Steve Ott understands his good fortune. He also knows that as a professional hockey player he can help ease the pain, if but for an afternoon, for some families who aren’t as fortunate.
Ott and the rest of the Buffalo Sabres spent Wednesday afternoon at Women & Children’s Hospital. Players and staff attended the holiday party for Stone’s Buddies, an organization that provides for chronically ill children who receive treatment at the hospital.
The Sabres’ captain said it is hard to imagine what some of the families are going through.
“Having a 7-year-old daughter, I could never put myself in their situation or their shoes,” Ott said. “To try and put a smile on somebody’s face and bring some joy to the holiday season, it’s something small we can do. All in all it’s just heartfelt, it’s special to be in our situation to be able to do that.”
Marcus Foligno made a short visit to Women & Children’s Hospital during training camp but the 22-year-old in his third year with the Sabres said there is something special about sharing time around the holidays.
“Kids always get excited,” Foligno said. “I remember when I was a little kid getting excited at Christmas time and it is tough for the kids to be in the hospital during Christmas. It definitely brings a lot of the guys closer and brings us closer to the community when we do things like that. For us, it’s about seeing the kids and hoping to bring them a good smile and maybe sing some songs with them.”
Sabres fans will have two opportunities to help with the organization’s holiday community service efforts. Tonight is the final night of the Winter Clothing Drive for the Buffalo City Mission. Fans can donate warm clothing or money to the shelter. On Dec. 28 the Sabres will partner with BlueCross BlueShield of Western New York for a used skate drive at Pure Hockey on Sheridan Drive in Amherst.
Coach Ted Nolan clarified the Sabres’ intentions with defenseman Mark Pysyk, who was assigned to Rochester on Tuesday. Pysyk will not be traveling with the Rochester Americans to Switzerland for the Spengler Cup, which runs from Dec. 26-31.
“He’ll be back when they leave,” Nolan said.
It’s likely the only roster move the Sabres will make. According to the new collective bargaining agreement, there is an NHL roster freeze that goes into effect at 11:59 on Dec. 19 and runs through 12:01 a.m. on Dec. 28. That means a player can not be traded, waived or demoted, although players may be promoted from affiliated clubs during that time.
The Boston Bruins come to town off a 2-0 home win over the Calgary Flames and are 7-3-0 in their last 10.
While Shawn Thornton continues to sit out for the Bruins while he appeals his 15-game suspension for his attack on Brooks Orpik, Boston avoided losing another player to suspension. Brad Marchand will not receive any additional discipline for his boarding hit on Calgary’s Sean Monahan.
Boston will still be without winger Loui Eriksson, who is suffering post-concussion symptoms 11 days after getting hit by Orpik. The Bruins made some roster moves on Wednesday before flying to Buffalo, sending defenseman Kevan Miller and forward Craig Cunningham to AHL affiliate Providence while calling up David Warsofsky. Warsofsky has two goals and 16 points in 26 games for the P-Bruins.