If you follow any members of the Buffalo Sabres on various social media platforms you already know – they’re pretty big Bills fans.
Members of the Sabres attended the Bills season opener against Indianapolis, posting pictures on Twitter and Instagram.
It’s part of the “One Buffalo” aura of the two franchises and an opportunity to be part of the energy of the region before getting down to the nitty gritty of training camp this week.
“I had a lot of energy at the Bills game the other day. It was fun,” Sabres forward Tyler Ennis said today. “They looked great and I think there’s a buzz around the city in all sports. Best of luck to the Bills and hopefully we can get off to a good start like they did.”
Ennis took in the game with several of his teammates, and presumptive teammates, not only soaking in the joy of a Western New York football victory but the cultivating camaraderie outside the dressing room.
“I think that’s another thing to touch on. We have a lot of great guys and a lot of new faces but we’re jelling pretty quick,” Ennis said. “We went to the Bills game together. It’s fun. But at the same time the season hasn’t started yet. We haven’t played any games yet. It’s going to get competitive once training camp starts but we’re getting along. We’re having fun and it’s a good group of guys.”
The competition is something Ennis is keenly focused on.
The 25-year-old former first round pick of the Sabres is stepping into his role as a veteran. The last two seasons he led the team in goals, scoring an NHL-career best 21 in 2013-14. Last season his 20 goals and 46 points led the Sabres and earned him a spot on Team Canada, where he scored four goals with two assists in 10 games during the IIHF World Championships.
The experience drives him heading into training camp with the goal not only to excel but to enhance the play of those around him.
“My goal is to have an awesome camp,” Ennis said. He wants to “push these guys. Everyone’s competing for a spot. We’ve got a lot of depth now so everyone is going to compete for that ice time and compete for those spots. My goal is to be the best player on the ice.”
Ennis has watched what General Manager Tim Murray did during the off-season, adding players through the draft, trades and free agent signings. He’s noticed the kids, the rookies getting their first shot at pro hockey and is impressed with their attitudes, which he described as a mixture of humility and hard work.
The buzz around the start of the season is exciting, but Ennis also understands the volume of work that needs to be done for the Sabres to pull themselves out of the NHL basement.
“It’s been awesome,” Ennis said of the off-season additions. “I think everyone’s excited. Everyone should be excited. I think Tim did a great job putting together a lot of new pieces that we needed. We’re jelling and getting to know each other.
“At the same time, we know there’s a lot we need to improve on and get better at. It’s not just going to happen. You can get a lot of great players but still struggle. We’ve got to get the structure back in our game. We’ve got to play like we practice, get the tempo up in practice. There’s a lot of areas where we were last place last year. Although we expect a huge jump, there’s a lot that we need to improve on.”