Amid the talk of suspensions and hits and response to media criticism, the Buffalo Sabres are still trying to figure out one thing – how to win a game.
The Sabres have just one win this season, a shootout victory against the New York Islanders. They also played strong in the final 30 minutes against Chicago. Notably, both were road games.
So as the team was preparing to fly to Florida for tonight’s game with the Panthers and Saturday’s game against Tampa Bay, there was a thought that maybe it was a good time to get out of town.
“Yeah, I would say so,” Steve Ott said. “Anytime you’re in a situation that it’s like right now. It will be nice to get down to Florida and hopefully right the ship. We’re more than capable of showing up and having a good performance. We need to do that. It’s time.”
The opportunity is there to pick up their first win in regulation against the Panthers. Florida is just 3-6-1 and sits one spot above the Sabres in the Atlantic Division standings. The Panthers have given up 35 goals in 10 games, more than the Sabres, who have surrendered 33 in 11 games.
“Our job is to continue to make progress and work on a daily basis with the guys and help our young guys progress as quickly as possible,” Sabres coach Ron Rolston said. “I think we’ve seen a lot of really good things out of our younger players and the direction they’re going in. They’re going to get opportunities and they’re going to make mistakes. And you’re going to see on a nightly basis that they’re going to make mistakes. That’s part of the process. We understand that. That was kind of part of it. That’s the plan.”
Gary Bettman issued a ruling Thursday afternoon upholding the 10-game suspension of Sabres forward Patrick Kaleta.
Kaleta was appealing his suspension, originally issued by Director of Player Safety Brendan Shanahan, for an illegal check to the head of Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman Jack Johnson on Oct. 10.
Bettman wrote in his ruling:
“The only question raised on appeal is whether such contact to the head was fairly considered ‘avoidable.’ I find that there is clear and convincing evidence to support Mr. Shanahan’s conclusion that the contact to Mr. Johnson’s head was avoidable and, in fact, should have been avoided.
“Regrettably, Mr. Kaleta stands out for his repeated violations of – and seeming indifference to – the Playing Rules put in place to protect other Players, and, particularly, other Players’ heads.”
Considered a repeat offender under the terms of the collective bargaining agreement, Kaleta will forfeit $152,439.
Kaleta has the option to appeal this decision to an independent arbitrator. This is a new feature of the collective bargaining agreement and the players’ association has not yet tested this clause.
Kevin Porter was put on waivers by the Sabres. Should he clear waivers, and he is expected to, he will be assigned to Rochester.
The move comes as Ville Leino and Cody McCormick are close to returning to action. Rolston said McCormick will be ready to go for the pair of games in Florida. He missed one game with a leg injury. Rolston said Leino (rib) will make the trip but that he is still being evaluated.