It sure was nice to see Domenic Pittis, Martin Biron, Darren Van Oene and their teammates back in action on the Blue Cross Arena ice in Rochester on Sept. 11. They gave us hockey fans who live in Buffalo's neighboring city to the east a great run to the Calder Cup finals last year.
Too bad we went to the arena thinking we were going to see the Buffalo Sabres, who gave us a run to the Stanley Cup finals last year.
Ticket prices and a 90-minute drive make it difficult for us to see the Sabres in the regular season. So when the Sabres scheduled the Rochester exhibition, we thought it would be a perfect opportunity to support the team and see some of the stars. We thought the Sabres saw it as an opportunity, too, to help build fan support in the home city of their top minor league affiliate. But apparently they did not. By my count, only seven players from last year's playoffs dressed for action in the game.
My 9-year-old son was especially disappointed when the game didn't involve any of his favorite players, including Dominik Hasek (injury), Miroslav Satan (contract holdout) and Michael Peca (there for autographs, but not on the ice).
Yes, we realize it was the first exhibition game of the season for a team that had been in camp only a week. We fully expected to see mostly third- and fourth-line players who likely will end up in the minors this year after Sabres coaches evaluate their play in the preseason.
But we also were hoping to see some of the first-line players skate for at least a few shifts before turning the game over to the understudies. Buffalo Bills fans at least got to see Doug Flutie play a portion of every game during the football preseason.
No disrespect intended to Pittis, Biron and company, but if we really wanted to see them play we'd have waited a month and bought tickets to a Rochester Americans' regular-season game. (In fact, we will, but that's beside the point.) It's too bad the real Sabres couldn't make it to Rochester.