Lindy Ruff

Ruff okay with Sabres going overseas: “Playing’s a good thing”


While some NHL coaches likely cringe at the prospect of their guys playing during a lockout, Lindy Ruff is of a different mindset.

“My feeling is if you can play, play, whether you’re a half a world away or not,” Ruff told the Buffalo News. “Playing’s a good thing. You can keep your skills sharp.”

The Sabres have players currently playing in Switzerland (Tyler Ennis), Germany (Christian Ehrhoff), Slovakia (Andrej Sekera) and soon, Austria (Thomas Vanek).

For most NHL coaches, the idea of players playing anywhere during a lockout — Europe, lower-tier North American leagues — is a double-edged sword. (The AHL is a different situation, obviously.)

While the competition will undoubtedly keep players sharp, there’s also great risk given the lack of familiarity with teammates, opponents, style of play and — let’s be honest — guys looking to make their marks by targeting NHL stars.

Example: During the 2004-05 lockout, then-RFA forward Scott Gomez joined the Alaska Aces of the ECHL, only to have his season end in terrible fashion — he suffered a broken pelvis on a dirty hit from a guy named Ashlee Langdone, who once racked up 514 PIM in 56 games with San Diego of the WCHL.

From the Anchorage Daily News (Apr. 2005):

Aces winger Mike Scott, reached on his cell phone in Seattle, said he was stationed just inside the gate at the Alaska bench when Langdone hit Gomez. Scott called the check the cheapest shot he has ever witnessed.

“Quite honestly, it was probably the worst thing I’ve ever seen in my career,” Scott said. “It was horrible. Hitting from behind, that’s not part of the game, especially to hit a world-class player when you’re a marginal player in the ECHL.

“It’s disgraceful, to be honest with you.”

This current lockout, still in its infancy, has already seen a couple of injuries.

Rick Nash was knocked out of a game with Swiss club HC Davos after suffering a shoulder injury and St. Louis Blues defenseman Kris Russell, playing for Finnish club TPS, suffered a lower-body injury so severe he returned to North America for treatment.

That said, Ruff isn’t a big fan of the alternative.

“I worry more about the guys that are, after a month or so, just playing a little bit of shinny hockey and practicing a little bit,” he explained. “It’s tough to stay sharp. You don’t have that physical challenge. You don’t have the challenge of elite players playing against you, and I think those players have a bigger challenge than those guys that are going and playing.”

Struggling Sabre Tyler Ennis out with upper-body injury

Tyler Ennis, James Wisniewski
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Tyler Ennis can probably relate with the Buffalo Sabres’ opponent on Wednesday, as he’s struggling almost as much as the Nashville Predators.

Perhaps some of that has to do with health?

Whether that’s the case or not, Ennis is out for the Sabres tonight, as the team announced that he’s dealing with an upper-body injury.

The Buffalo News discussed Ennis’ struggles in this article.

“I’d say he’s pressing too much. You can’t make those plays in every situation and in every point you touch the puck,” Dan Bylsma said to the Buffalo News. “ … He’s just got to simplify his game. He is a special player who can make those plays, but he can’t be trying to do it every time he touches the puck.”

He’ll need to wait a while to start getting things together, anyway.

WATCH LIVE: Wednesday Night Rivalry (Flyers-Islanders; Blackhawks-Sharks)

Ryan White, Matt Martin
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You can check out tonight’s Wednesday Night Rivalry doubleheader on NBCSN, and you can also stream them online.

Here are the handy links for the two contests.

First, the New York Islanders host the Philadelphia Flyers.


After that, the Chicago Blackhawks visit the San Jose Sharks.


Braun out with upper-body injury; Zubrus to make Sharks debut

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The San Jose Sharks will be missing a top-4 defenseman tonight when they host the defending champs from Chicago.

Justin Braun has an upper-body injury. His status is considered day-to-day.

“Brauny has been one of our unsung heroes here through the first quarter of the season,” coach Peter DeBoer told CSN Bay Area. “He’s played some outstanding hockey. So, we’re going to miss him, but it’s a great opportunity for Mueller and Tennyson and one of these guys to establish themselves. It’s a great opportunity for us to reward Dillon for how well he’s played.”

Against the Blackhawks, Brenden Dillon will take Braun’s spot on the top pairing alongside Marc-Edouard Vlasic; Paul Martin and Brent Burns will stay together on the second pairing; and 20-year-old Mirco Mueller will skate with Matt Tennyson.

Mueller has played just four games for the Sharks this season. In his last game, Thursday in Philadelphia, he received only 9:13 of ice time.

Also tonight, new Shark forward Dainius Zubrus is expected to debut on the fourth line.

Related: Sharks sign Zubrus, because DeBoer

Johansen calls trade rumblings ‘weird,’ says relationship with Torts is ‘great’

Ryan Johansen
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One day after reports surfaced of Ryan Johansen being at the center of trade talks, all parties involved from Columbus did what they’re supposed to do — downplay the situation.

You can read the denials in full over at the Dispatch, but here’s the gist:

— Johansen said the rumors were “weird” and that he’s “never seen it before.” He also said there were no issues between him and head coach John Tortorella, calling the relationship “great.”

— GM Jarmo Kekalainen wouldn’t address the report, nor would Johansen’s agent, Kurt Overhardt.

— Johansen added he hasn’t spoken to any of Columbus’ management about the trade rumblings.

So there’s that. What’s next?

At this stage of the game, it’s hard not to think about another Overhardt client, Kyle Turris.

Turris, you’ll recall, spent four (mostly) stormy years with the Coyotes before his trade out to Ottawa was orchestrated. Turris eventually told GM Don Maloney “this is not going to work out” with the club, and he was gone.

So, consider the similarities now:

— Turris was 22 at the time of the trade, with four years and 137 games under his belt.

— Johansen is 23, with five years and 291 games.

— Both had contentious contract holdouts with their respective clubs.

— Both are Overhardt guys.

— The Turris trade happened after the Coyotes went from Wayne Gretzky to Dave Tippett as head coach.

— Johansen is already on his third head coach (Scott Arniel, Todd Richards, Tortorella).

For now, these are all coincidences (or a forced narrative, depending what you think of the author).

And, of course, the one big — big — difference between the two is that, at the time of his trade, Turris wasn’t as good or established a player as Johansen currently is. Therefore, logic suggests any Johansen trade would be a lot more blockbuster-y and, therefore, probably more complex.

And as we know, complex deals aren’t easy to pull off.