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Weather could ice outdoor game

For anyone who remembers Western New York hockey when kids played their games on outdoor rinks, before the surge of local indoor arenas in the 1970s. . . .

*I'm all for the Buffalo Sabres staging an outdoor game New Year's Day against the Pittsburgh Penguins. It's a great way to draw much-needed attention to the game while capitalizing on the stereotype associated with Buffalo, cold and snow. It could give the region an economic boost and reaffirm the heartiness of Buffalo fans.

The risk involved, strangely enough, is the weather. According to, the mean temperature the past four years on Jan. 1 was 46 degrees, 34 degrees, 41 degrees and 33 degrees. Last year, people spent the day golfing.

Obviously, the Sabres would use a refrigeration process to keep the ice firm, but it could be difficult if it's warm and sunny. Heaven forbid it rained or the region was clobbered by a blinding, Buffalo-style horizontal snowstorm.

The two teams play again in Buffalo on Feb. 17, another Sunday matinee. The mean temperature on that date over the past four years was 17 degrees, 42 degrees, 23 degrees and 21 degrees.

Edmonton held an outdoor game, but it's usually colder and drier there than it is here. It's why the Oilers historically were known for having the best ice surface in the NHL. Ice doctors for years blamed moisture in the Buffalo air for the mediocre surface in HSBC Arena.

*It was good to hear Boston Bruins owner Jeremy Jacobs, chairman of Buffalo-based Delaware North Cos., and the new chairman of the NHL board of governors, suggest during a recent interview that the league should be in good shape despite another hike in the salary cap.

The cap was $39 million in the first year of the collective bargaining agreement before jumping to $44 million last year and $50 million for the upcoming season. Jacobs believes revenues will level off, forcing the cap to do the same.

"It should be very healthy," Jacobs said from his office in Fountain Plaza. "There should be a time, hopefully, of continued peace. The players have a terrific deal. We're full partners now. We no longer have an adversarial relationship. We're feeling our way through the first couple years of the new agreement."

*Just wondering if West Seneca native Aaron Miller would have taken a true hometown discount before he signed a one-year deal with Vancouver for $1.5 million. Buffalo was an intriguing possibility after the Sabres emphasized they needed to get more physical.

Miller, 36, isn't the fastest guy, but the former U.S. Olympian is a tough, reliable defenseman who would have helped. The Sabres elected to re-sign 39-year-old Teppo Numminen to a one-year deal worth $2.6 million. Any chance Miller would have signed for, say, $1 million?

*Among the e-mails sent my way over the past several weeks, including a few that were on the verge of detonating my computer, were questions about how I came up with the figure to pay Derek Roy $800,000 for next season.

The salary was based on Jason Pominville's contract from last summer. Pommer the Bomber made $800,000 last year while scoring 34 goals and 68 points. He's making $925,000 next season and $1.375 million in 2008-09.

Roy had 21 goals, 63 points while making $627,000. Both were second-round picks in 2001. Roy, headed for arbitration, has played 54 more career games and had 30 more points. It should have been taken into account.

As for the four-year deal worth $15 million proposed for Thomas Vanek, well, let's just say the Sabres would have found similar numbers had they picked up the telephone and made an effort well in advance of free agency.


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