Goaltender Ryan Miller #30 of the Buffalo Sabres is congratulated by Thomas Vanek #26 after shuting out the Anaheim Ducks 2-0 at Honda Center on February 29, 2012 in Anaheim, California.
(February 28, 2012 - Source: Jeff Gross/Getty Images North America)

Vanek, Miller want to know if they’re part of Buffalo’s future


Winds of uncertainty are blowing through Buffalo right now, and have hit two of the team’s biggest stars.

Leading scorer Thomas Vanek and starting netminder Ryan Miller — two of the club’s longest-tenured players — say they need to speak with GM Darcy Regier to figure out what the plan is moving forward.

In the past six weeks, Regier fired longtime head coach Lindy Ruff and traded away T.J. Brennan, Robyn Regehr, Jordan Leopold and captain Jason Pominville.

So, what’s next?

“You just regroup and figure out what the plan is moving forward, if you’re part of it or not,” Miller told the Buffalo News. “It’s something I haven’t had a chance to talk to [Regier] about and certainly something I can’t speculate on because I’ve never known what Darcy’s going to do.”

Vanek sounded equally confused as to whether he’ll be a Sabre after this year.

“I haven’t talked to them about anything,” he explained. “It’s hard to say yes or no because no one has let me know what direction this is heading.

“Again, we’ll finish the year out and I’m sure at least I would expect them to let me know what the future is with myself.”

Few teams are more in flux than Buffalo.

The Sabres are playing under an interim head coach — Ron Rolston has no guarantees beyond this season — and are heading into an offseason filled with tough decisions.

The club’s pending UFAs aren’t a big deal (Jochen Hecht, John Scott, Adam Pardy, Alex Sulzer) but the restricted free agents are key.

New deals are needed for Cody Hodgson, Luke Adam and goalie Matt Hackett, acquired in the Pominville trade and believed to be Miller’s possible heir apparent.

There’s also the issue of the draft.

Buffalo’s armed to the teeth with picks — they’ll have two first- and two second-rounders — and could make a push for one of the Big Three: WHL Portland defenseman Seth Jones or one of the two QMHJL Halifax stars, Nathan MacKinnon or Jonathan Drouin.

If that happens, the youth movement will certainly be in effect.

Which really makes you wonder what’ll happen with Vanek, who turns 30 next year, and Miller, who’s 33 in July.

Avs unveil new third jerseys

Avs Jerseys

The Avalanche will be throwing a bunch of different looks at us this season.

Having already released specialized “Mile High” jerseys for February’s Stadium Series game, the Avs unveiled new third sweaters on Friday — less than 24 hours after a bitter 5-4 home loss to Minnesota in their season opener.

(Guess Colorado wanted to send out some good vibes after blowing a 4-1 third-period lead.)

While undoubtedly exciting for the organization, the release of these new thirds isn’t taking anybody by surprise. Last month, several websites published leaked images of Colorado’s and Anaheim’s third jerseys, so the design has been in the public eye for several weeks.

The Avs will debut these new thirds on Oct. 24, in a Saturday night tilt against Columbus.

Related: Roy explains why he didn’t call time out

Report: Escrow set at 16 percent

Gary Bettman, Donald Fehr
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Hey, remember in June when the NHLPA voted to keep the five-percent growth factor in spite of increasing worries about escrow?

Well, here’s why that decision was a significant one, via TSN’s Frank Seravalli:

With early revenue projections in place, the NHL and NHLPA set the escrow withholding rate for players at 16 per cent for the first quarter of the season on Thursday.

That means every player will have 16 per cent of earnings deducted from their paycheque and put aside until after all of this season’s hockey-related revenue is counted to ensure a perfect 50-50 revenue split with owners.

Now, this doesn’t mean that the players will definitely lose 16 percent of their salaries. Typically, they receive refunds when all the accounting is done.

Still, 16 percent is a good-sized chunk to withhold. They won’t be thrilled about it.

Related: To understand escrow, consider Duncan Keith