Since 1989, the No. 32 has symbolized fighting prowess in Buffalo. Rob Ray wore it for 14 years. John Scott intimidated people for two seasons.
The number is being worn during training camp by goaltender Adam Wilcox. Believe it or not, he's dropped the glove (and blocker) before. The fight would have done his No. 32 predecessors proud.
While playing for Green Bay of the United States Hockey League in February 2011, Wilcox joined a full line brawl during a game against Omaha. He skated the length of the ice to fight Lancers goalie Todd Mathews. Wilcox earned a unanimous decision, throwing seven rights and two lefts while tossing Mathews to the ice.
"I think I got a four-game suspension for it because it was under five minutes and I crossed the red line," Wilcox said Thursday. "It was definitely worth it. It was fun. A good memory."
The Sabres, of course, didn't sign Wilcox to a one-year deal to fight. He'll split the crease with Linus Ullmark in Rochester. Those are the two goalies expected to be in Buffalo's lineup Friday night in Toronto.
Wilcox, who was a fan of the Sabres' Dominik Hasek, joined Buffalo after spending time with the minor league teams for Tampa Bay and Florida last year. The 24-year-old went 25-13-2 overall, and he had a .932 save percentage in 13 appearances with Florida's affiliate. He saw an opening in Buffalo's organization.
"I thought it was a good fit for me," the 24-year-old said. "It was kind of one of those spots that I always wanted to go growing up for some reason. I think a lot of it was because of Hasek, but it was just one of my favorite teams, so it was pretty cool signing with a team that I always wanted to play for."
Wilcox played the third period and overtime of Buffalo's 4-3 victory over Pittsburgh on Tuesday. The University of Minnesota product made 10 saves on 12 shots as the Penguins scored two power play goals.
"It was really fun," Wilcox said in HarborCenter. "I was going back to the old stomping grounds of the Big Ten. I used to play there with the Gophs, so it was pretty cool to go back to that rink.
"I was fortunate to get a period. It was fun. I went in there on the penalty kill, and I didn't mind it because it gets you in the game right away. They kind of bailed me out toward the end there."
Buffalo won on Jack Eichel's overtime goal. Wilcox earned kudos from coach Phil Housley because the goalie came in cold as Pittsburgh came in hot. The Pens took 10 of the opening 12 shots during the third period.
"To come in in the third period and face the rubber he did, he did a terrific job," Housley said.
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After giving Marco Scandella a day off to rest his surgically repaired hip, Housley expected the defenseman to practice Thursday. Once again, Scandella stayed off the ice.
Still, Housley isn't worried about the health of the key offseason acquisition.
"No, I'm not concerned at all," Housley said. "This is all precautionary.
"He's in a great place right now. I thought he was going to be out today, but he wasn't. He'll probably be out tomorrow, but it's just a day-to-day maintenance thing for him. We want him to feel comfortable when we start getting up for the regular season."
Scandella had arthroscopic surgery in May after Minnesota was eliminated from the playoffs. He's sat out three of the Sabres' seven training camp sessions.
"He'll get his practices in," Housley said. "I'm not worried at all."
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Cliff Pu, the lone junior player left in camp, is going to get another game. Housley didn't say whether it would be Friday in Toronto or Saturday when the Maple Leafs visit Buffalo.
"We like his grit," Housley said. "We want to see him in another game. It's intriguing trying to see where he can fit in. I think he's had an excellent camp up to this point, and he's getting rewarded for it.
"He's really working hard. He can see the pace of the game when he's out there. A lot of the guys, the veterans, have long batteries, and you can tell. That's something he's got to work on, his endurance, but I think he's fit right in."