Sabres cause facility shuffle
There were a lot of quick changes done in HSBC Arena late Friday night in preparation for tonight's Sabres-Bruins game.
But one thing will stay in place: The International Ice Hockey Federation logos at center ice. It takes more than 24 hours for logos to be painted and set, so the Sabres received a waiver from the NHL to keep the logo. It will be the first time the IIHF insignia has been on the ice for an NHL game.
While the logo will stay, there were several transformations needed in the building to get ready for tonight.
Board advertisements had to be switched back to regular Sabres advertisers (they are decals affixed to the dashers). The set for Canadian network TSN in the 200 level end zone had to be taken down to accommodate Sabres season-ticket holders. Team USA has been using the Sabres locker room but will be moving out and is set to practice Sunday at Buffalo State.
Slovakia and Germany were sharing the visitors locker room and will be headed to Niagara University for relegation games, allowing the Bruins to take over the normal spot.
The room for Lindy Ruff's pre- and postgame news conferences is being used as a tournament office so the media will meet Ruff today in the area set aside for the media at the tournament.
The Bruins stayed at the Marriott in Amherst because downtown hotels are filled by the tournament. Most NHL visiting teams stay at the Embassy Suites on Delaware Avenue. The Bruins practiced Friday in Atlanta after playing the Thrashers on Thursday night because it was difficult to find ice time in Buffalo because of the tournament and with the Sabres working out at the Northtown Center of Amherst.
This is Keith Allain's third stint as Team USA coach for the World Junior Championship but it is his first on home soil.
The Americans aren't just playing in the good old U-S-A. They're playing in a city that is nearly as passionate about its hockey as its Canadian neighbors and that's something Allain noted earlier in the week as being different than in his past tournaments.
"The absolute biggest difference is the media attention," he said. "This is way different than it was in Europe. The tournament is bigger in scope. The fact it's in North America adds to it."
On Buffalo as the host:
"I think it adds to the enthusiasm. They've done a wonderful job," he said.
While regulars to the arena have been surprised by the number of empty seats for games involving Team USA, especially when compared to the crowds for Team Canada, Allain said his team has been pleased with the atmosphere in the building.
"I've been very impressed with the crowds," Allain said Friday morning. "What did we have [against Germany]? Around 12,000 for the game [Thursday]. That's fantastic for hockey in our country. You would have never envisioned that for a World Junior game three or four years ago, so we're actually quite impressed with the support we're getting."
Finns fond of Teppo
He's not the king of Finland but former Sabres defenseman Teppo Numminen is still hockey royalty in his native country, even though he hasn't laced 'em up since retiring in 2009.
Numminen played the final four of his 20 NHL seasons with the Sabres and was on hand Friday afternoon to present Finnish forward Erik Haula with the Player of the Game honor following the 6-0 rout of Slovakia at HSBC Arena.
"That was really special," Haula said. "He's been a great player [in the NHL]. He's really appreciated in Finland."
Compiled by the News Sports Staff