The Sabres’ gold alternate sweater, which was roundly criticized almost from the moment it was unveiled in September 2013, is history after this season.
That was the word Thursday from team President Ted Black, who said the Sabres will not have an alternate jersey next season and may go without one for the foreseeable future.
The gold jerseys were unveiled via a bizarre Twitter “spat” with then-captain Steve Ott prior to last season. Black admitted the team did a poor job running the design past focus groups and it never really caught on. Several national websites have dubbed it one of the worst alternates in NHL history.
It replaced a much more popular blue jersey unveiled by previous ownership for the team’s 40th anniversary. That sweater featured a script “Buffalo” on the front that was a throwback to the AHL Bisons’ sweaters.
“I think in this market ,and it’s my mistake, we didn’t anticipate the amount of third-jersey fatigue,” Black said during a regularly scheduled appearance on WGR Radio. “There’s been a lot of jerseys in this market. That was a mistake.”
It was Black, of course, who unintentionally christened the gold sweaters last season when he responded to the immediate backlash by saying, “If it’s a turd burger, I’ll have to put it on a bun and eat it.”
The Turdburger thus became a name that stuck, much like the Goathead and the Slug referred to other jerseys in Sabres history.
Black said the Sabres may shelve the concept of an alternate sweater entirely until 2020, when the franchise will be celebrating its 50th anniversary.
“I’m not saying we’ll do a third jersey then, but that will be an appropriate time to look outward for that,” Black said.
Brian Gionta, Tyler Ennis and Matt Moulson all stayed off the ice during the Sabres’ 30-minute practice Thursday in First Niagara Center. There are no injury concerns.
“All three of those guys had a lot of minutes,” coach Ted Nolan said in reference to Wednesday’s shootout loss in Toronto. “We need them fresh come game time.”
Nolan had no further update on goaltender Chad Johnson, who injured his foot during the morning skate last week in Ottawa and is feared lost for the season.
Nolan said he has not given up hope of seeing Zemgus Girgensons return to the lineup, although there is still some thought his return from the foot injury he suffered Feb. 24 in Columbus may be so close to the end of the season that it may not be prudent to put the 20-year-old back on the ice.
The coach said the most likely injured player who could return before the season is out is Patrick Kaleta. The Angola native has been skating on his own for a few days.
The New York Rangers are likely to be without standout defenseman Kevin Klein for their game here against the Sabres on Saturday night. Klein went back to New York for further X-rays after taking an Alex Ovechkin shot in the arm during the final minute of Wednesday’s 3-1 New York victory at Verizon Center.
The Rangers stayed in the nation’s capital Thursday for a team-bonding activity and are scheduled to practice there Friday before flying to Buffalo.
Klein has played in 65 games this season, with career highs of nine goals and 26 points. He also has a career-best plus-24 rating that’s tied with teammate Rick Nash for sixth in the NHL.