If Buffalo Sabres fans are disappointed about their team landing Jack Eichel instead of Connor McDavid, they have a funny way of showing it.
More than 17,000 people – the Buffalo News pegs it at 17,115 – showed up to watch the Sabres scrimmage on Friday night. That’s a crowd that exceeds some NHL arena’s capacities to witness low-importance hockey in July.
(Italics seemed appropriate in a case like this.)
Even Dan Byslma, Stanley Cup-winner, was taken aback as onlookers “jammed around the rink.”
WGRZ reports that Eichel said he wasn’t surprised when hundreds showed up for a development camp practice back on Monday, but this is a pretty impressive turnout by any measure.
Fans shared a few shots of the surprising atmosphere:
The Buffalo Sabres rounded out Dan Bylsma’s coaching staff on Friday, hiring former Chicago Blackhawks goalie development boss Andrew Allen as their new goalie coach.
Allen, 38, replaces the outgoing Arturs Irbe.
A former AHL and ECHL netminder, Allen was with Chicago for the last four seasons, spending the majority of his time tutoring netminders with the club’s AHL affiliate in Rockford. During Allen’s tenure, a number of solid backups rose through the ranks: Carter Hutton (now Pekka Rinne’s No. 2 in Nashville), Antti Raanta (now Henrik Lundqvist’s backup in New York) and Scott Darling (now Corey Crawford’s backup in Chicago).
In Buffalo, Allen will work with newly-acquired starter Robin Lenher and No. 2 Chad Johnson, acquired at last season’s trade deadline.
With this hire, Bylsma’s staff is now complete — Allen will join assistant coaches Terry Murray, Dave Barr and Dan Lambert on the Sabres’ bench.
Matt Ellis will return to the Buffalo Sabres organization for an eighth season.
The 33-year-old has signed a one-year, American Hockey League contract with the Rochester Americans for the 2015-16 season.
The forward appeared in 39 games with the Buffalo Sabres last season scoring one goal and one assist while averaging 8:19 in time on ice.
Ellis also played 38 AHL games with the Americans scoring seven goals and six assists.
He has split the past three seasons between Buffalo and Rochester.
In 356 career NHL games split between the Sabres and Detroit Red Wings, Ellis has scored 21 goals 49 points.
Buffalo acquired Ellis off of waivers from the L.A. Kings during the 2008 preseason.