Ryan O’Reilly will pretty much go through his entire first training camp with the Buffalo Sabres with his court case still unresolved.
O’Reilly’s second date Thursday in a London, Ont., court became a third one. The case involving the center’s ill-fated drive into a Tim Hortons was pushed back again Thursday, this time to Oct. 1.
O’Reilly was charged with impaired driving and leaving the scene of an accident on July 9 after crashing his 1951 Chevrolet pickup into the cafe in Lucan, Ont., not far from London. O’Reilly had said earlier in the week he was hopeful the case could be wrapped up but that was not the case. O’Reilly was represented by an attorney and did not appear.
“That’s what we do in Canada – we remand and remand and remand and lawyers get paid,” General Manager Tim Murray said Thursday in First Niagara Center. “As long as the end result is what he believes is the truth to be and what we’ve been told ... Would it have been better that it ended on Aug. 10 or today? Maybe. But as long as it’s done right vs. done in a speedy fashion, I’m fine with it.”
O’Reilly was arrested just six days after signing a seven-year, $52.5-million contract extension, the longest deal in franchise history.
“I think he was as disappointed as any of us,” Murray said. “Obviously, we were disappointed here, our fans were probably disappointed but he was legitimately distraught over it and disappointed. He made some mistakes that he’s owned up to with us.
“What has been reported and what has been the truth, we’ll see what the discrepancies are. He thinks there are some discrepancies. He’ll have his day in court. Hopefully it gets resolved where it doesn’t affect his travel, his ability to play for us. I’m confident that will be the case.”
The Oct. 1 date coincides with a preseason game at Minnesota. O’Reilly would likely sit that one out, as veterans don’t play in every exhibition anyway. The preseason finale is here Oct. 2 against Columbus and the season opens here Oct. 8 against Ottawa.
Angola native and longtime Sabres winger Patrick Kaleta continues to participate in informal skates with the team, albeit wearing a jersey of the HarborCenter Academy of Hockey or the NHLPA. He does not have a contract for the upcoming season and is still awaiting a potential NHL deal.
Murray said Thursday he has interest in keeping Kaleta in the organization but the team’s NHL roster is currently full. It would appear Kaleta’s likely path to staying with the Sabres would be to initially accept an AHL deal to play in Rochester. The Amerks, however, also have a potential roster containing the full AHL quota of veteran players.
Sabres veterans are expected to report for physicals next Thursday and take the ice for the first time under new coach Dan Bylsma on Sept. 18. The first exhibition game is Sept. 21 at Minnesota.
Murray said it’s unlikely he will bring any veterans into camp on professional tryout contracts even though there’s a glut of free agents still on the market. The Toronto Maple Leafs, for instance, said Thursday they’ve invited Curtis Glencross and former Sabres winger Brad Boyes to their camp on PTOs and the New York Islanders are likewise bringing in former Sabres winger Steve Bernier.
“I’m not a fan of PTOs if you’re not going to give the guy a real chance,” Murray said. “I don’t think you should waste his time or do a favor to an agent and you’re not legitimately interested in signing him if he comes in here and has a big camp.”
The Sabres prospect camp opens Friday morning in the arena and is free and open to the public. With a lineup that includes No. 2 overall picks Jack Eichel and Sam Reinhart, the Sabres will practice from 9-11 a.m., followed by New Jersey prospects from 11:30-1:30 and Boston prospects from 3-5.
The Sabres and Devils will play the first game of the three-day Prospects Challenge Saturday night at 7 in FNC. The Bruins and Devils meet Sunday night at 7 in HarborCenter, with the Sabres and Bruins meeting in the arena Monday at 7. Tickets for each game are $10 and available at the arena box office or on Sabres.com.
The Sabres will have a morning skate Saturday morning at 10, with the Devils following at 11:30 and the Bruins practicing from 1-3. Like Friday’s workouts, those sessions are free and open to the public.