When Justin Bailey left the ice after practice Thursday, Tim Murray was waiting. The Sabres’ general manager delivered bad news (the forward is going back to Rochester) and words of encouragement (Bailey will be back in Buffalo at some point soon).
With the Sabres returning to health, Bailey has been sent to the Amerks. The Williamsville native played four games with the Sabres, taking 15 shots with no points while averaging 11:51 of ice time.
“You never know which day is your last day, so I just kind of reflected every day and was obviously very thankful to still be here,” Bailey said in First Niagara Center. “It’s been a pretty cool week, for sure. It was one of my dreams to play games in the NHL. To get the opportunity to do that has been special.”
Bailey’s best game was his NHL debut last Thursday, when he took seven shots and had several scoring chances in Philadelphia. But the 20-year-old's favorite game was his home debut Friday.
“It’s all been pretty special, but the first home game I had was obviously one of the most special hockey games for me,” he said. “It wasn’t my best game, but just being able to see all my family and friends and all that afterward, especially all the support from people around the city and people I played with, it’s been pretty cool.”
The Sabres practiced without forwards Ryan O’Reilly (illness) and Zemgus Girgensons (maintenance), but coach Dan Bylsma said both are expected to play Friday in Columbus. With Evander Kane returning from a one-game benching, Bailey was the extra forward.
Dan Catenacci, meanwhile, practiced for the first time since suffering a concussion in Philly. The Sabres were awaiting medical results before announcing his status.