Buffalo names Vanek, Ott co-captains


The Buffalo Sabres have gone in a unique direction with their leadership group, naming Thomas Vanek and Steve Ott co-captains for the 2013-14 season.

According to head coach Ron Rolston, Vanek will serve as captain for home games and Ott will don the “C” for road contests. In addition, defenseman Christian Ehrhoff has been named as an alternate captain.

The decision to name Vanek and Ott co-captains isn’t entirely surprising — Vanek is the team’s most talented and leading scorer, and Ott has quickly become a fan favorite.

What is interesting, though, are their contractual statuses.

Both Ott and Vanek are pending UFAs at season’s end. Vanek has already been the subject of many a trade rumor and was non-committal about sticking though a potential rebuild in Buffalo, saying the situation wasn’t the “best-case scenario.”

Ott has been less talkative on the subject, and GM Darcy Regier said he hasn’t begun discussions about a new contract (adding that it’s “not unusual” to be silent on talks with ’14 free agents.)

Image courtesy Buffalo Sabres

Bettman to players: Don’t screw up ‘once-in-a-lifetime opportunity’ with drugs

Gary Bettman
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The NHL wants to take an educational approach — not a punitive one — to deter its players from using illicit drugs like cocaine.

“My interest is not to go around punishing people,” Bettman told Sportsnet today.

“My interest is getting players to understand the consequences of doing something that could jeopardize this great, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that they’ve been given, to play in the NHL.”

While some players have expressed surprise at hearing that cocaine use is growing, the anecdotal evidence of substance abuse has been very much in the news, from Jarret Stoll‘s arrest to Mike Richards’ arrest to, more recently, Zack Kassian‘s placement in the NHL/NHLPA’s treatment program.

“We don’t have the unilateral right to do things here. We need the consent of the Players’ Association,” Bettman said. “It’s not about punishment. It’s about making sure we get it to stop.”

Related: Cocaine in the NHL: A concern, but not a crisis?

Goalie nods: Jones makes Sharks debut against ex-Kings mates

Martin Jones
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News and notes from around the crease…

Jones goes for San Jose

Martin Jones, acquired by the Sharks this summer, will make his first regular-season start for the club tonight against his old team — the Los Angeles Kings.

Jones, 25, spent the last two years in L.A. as Jonathan Quick‘s understudy. He was flipped to Boston at the NHL Entry Draft, then shipped to San Jose. Sharks GM Doug Wilson wasted little time locking Jones in — signing him to a three-year, $9 million extension — and Jones wasted little time locking up the No. 1 gig, putting together a stellar preseason.

For the Kings, Quick will get the start in goal.

Markstrom out for Vancouver

Jacob Markstrom wasn’t scheduled to start for the Canucks tonight — No. 1 Ryan Miller is getting the call — but the Swedish ‘tender won’t even dress when his club takes on the Flames in Calgary.

Markstrom suffered a lower-body injury at practice this week and is being held out of tonight’s action. In his place, the Canucks called up AHL netminder Richard Bachman, who’ll serve as Miller’s backup.

For the Flames, Karri Ramo is the opening-night starter.


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