Tim Murray, Pat LaFontaine

Sabres address LaFontaine resignation, ready to move forward


BUFFALO — Buffalo Sabres president Ted Black and general manager Tim Murray addressed the media about Pat LaFontaine’s sudden resignation from the organization.

After just over three months on the job, LaFontaine left the Sabres to return to the NHL where he was the vice president of hockey development.

“I found out a few days ago [about LaFontaine leaving],” Black said. “I wasn’t sure how it was going to be announced or when.”

The “when” was answered on Saturday night.

Black said he knows it doesn’t look good from the outside for the team.

“It’s a lot for our fans to swallow in a short amount of time,” Black said. “The franchise goalie is traded, the former player hall of famer that was the president of hockey operations resigns. So it creates this same reaction you measure from your readers and from Twitter. It creates uncertainty. It’s something that fans are going to be upset by.”

With rumors of discord amongst members of the front office, both Black and Murray made it clear it was LaFontaine’s decision to resign and that he wasn’t fired. Of course, the timing of his departure came a day after the team traded superstar goalie Ryan Miller and team captain Steve Ott to the St. Louis Blues.

Front office shakeups after a trade are always going to get noticed, but Murray said he and LaFontaine worked together.

“We were on the same page,” Murray said. “I was brought in here for the rebuild and we were on the same page with that. I’ve been here for six weeks and probably on the road for four of those scouting. Every phone call I got concerning trades was relayed to Pat. There was never any indication that we weren’t on the same page.”

Given the timing of when LaFontaine said he wanted to leave, Murray said the former Sabres legend wasn’t consulted about the Miller deal.

Now the Sabres will have to put this distraction to bed as the trade deadline approaches on Wednesday and they have numerous players drawing interest around the league.

“For me it’s just about the hockey and it’s about continuing to talk trade, it’s about continuing to get ready for the draft, it’s about continuing to evaluate the hockey staff,” Murray said. “I just have to keep doing what I’m doing.”

Animal activists protest Ducks’ Stoner over grizzly bear hunt

Keith Fialcowitz
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ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — A small group of vocal protesters gathered outside Honda Center on Monday night to call for the suspension of Anaheim Ducks defenseman Clayton Stoner, who faces charges in Canada of illegally obtaining a license to shoot a grizzly bear.

While Ducks fans entered the rink for their home opener against Vancouver, about 20 protesters held signs and shouted slogans condemning Stoner. He faces five charges related to the 2013 hunt on British Columbia’s central coast.

“Killing is not a sport! Play a real sport!” the protesters shouted in unison. “Shame on the Ducks!”

Judie Mancuso, the president of Social Compassion in Legislation, compared Stoner to quarterback Michael Vick and Minnesota dentist Walter Palmer, whose killing of a beloved lion in Zimbabwe sparked an international outcry.

“The entire globe is against trophy hunting right now,” Mancuso said. “If most of these hockey fans understood that was the issue, I think most of them would be on our side.”

Wildlife groups and First Nations leaders have been outraged by Stoner’s killing of the bear, named Cheeky. Stoner defended his actions at the time when graphic photos of the kill were publicized, but he hasn’t commented recently.

The protesters were serenaded by chants of Stoner’s name by many fans, while others stopped to look at the signs. Mancuso said her group hopes to raise awareness of Stoner’s legal troubles.

“If people didn’t have outrage with the NFL, Michael Vick would have gotten away with it,” Mancuso said. “The only way that anything is going to happen is if we do this. If there’s not public outcry, nothing is going to happen, so we’ve got to try.”

Stoner grew up on Vancouver Island, but hasn’t lived in the province full-time for several years, which authorities say made him ineligible for the hunting license used to take the bear. He played for the Minnesota Wild at the time of the shooting.

Stoner faces two counts of knowingly making a false statement to obtain a hunting license and one count apiece of hunting without a license, hunting out of season and unlawful possession of dead wildlife. His case is set for Nov. 13 in Vancouver.

The 30-year-old Stoner was in the Ducks’ lineup for their home opener, and he fought Brandon Prust in the opening minutes. Stoner is beginning his sixth full NHL season and his second with Anaheim after signing a four-year, $13 million deal as a free agent before last season.

Related: Ducks d-man Stoner charged with unlawful grizzly bear hunt

NHL on NBCSN: Red Wings face Lightning in ’15 playoff rematch

Steven Stamkos, Henrik Zetterberg
AP Photo

NBCSN will continue its coverage of the 2015-16 campaign tonight when the Detroit Red Wings host the Tampa Bay Lightning at 7:30 p.m. ET. You can stream the game online here.

The Lightning made it all the way to the Stanley Cup Final in 2015, but their journey almost ended in the first round at the hands of the Red Wings. Detroit shutout Tampa Bay twice in that series and the two squads were locked in a scoreless tie until the third period of Game 7.

Despite the fact that the Red Wings were a mere hair away from advancing instead of Tampa Bay, the Lightning are often mentioned as serious Cup contenders while Detroit is typically regarded as a good, but not amazing team. However, that gap isn’t entirely unjustified.

After all, Tampa Bay has a very effective core of forwards that features Steven Stamkos, Tyler Johnson, Nikita Kucherov, and Ondrej Palat. If the highly regarded Jonathan Drouin, 20, is able to build off of his strong start to the 2015-16 campaign then the Lightning’s offense could be even more dangerous this season.

Detroit certainly has some offensive star power too in Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk, but the duo is 35 and 37 years old respectively. On top of that, injuries have been a recurring issue for Datsyuk, who isn’t expected to make his season debut until November after undergoing ankle surgery.

As good as those two forwards still are, the Red Wings have to hope that their younger players will be able to lead the charge sooner rather than later. The good news is that 19-year-old Dylan Larkin‘s campaign is off to a strong start with three points in two games while 23-year-old Teemu Pulkkinen scored twice on Saturday.

The Red Wings have opened the season with back-to-back wins against Toronto and Carolina, but tonight’s game represents their biggest test to date. Meanwhile, the Lightning are similarly undefeated after three games, but this contest will be particularly trying for them given that it’s their third game in four days.