NEWARK, N.J. – This trip is meaningful for Jacob Josefson, and the Buffalo Sabres know it. So as they wrapped up practice in his old arena, they sent him to center ice to lead the stretch and give a pep talk.
"I just told the guys we had to win," Josefson said.
Friday's game against the New Jersey Devils is Josefson's first trip to Prudential Center as a visitor. Drafted in the first round by the Devils in 2009, the center spent seven seasons with the team.
"I was here for a long time, so of course it's a lot of memories," Josefson said. "I had a really good time playing here and had a lot of friends. It's a little bit special and it's going to be fun to take the ice."
Josefson's top memory of his time in New Jersey was his second season. The Devils advanced to the 2012 Stanley Cup final, losing in six games to the Los Angeles Kings.
"That was a great year," Josefson said. "It was a really fun run to be part of. We had a great team that year, a lot of good guys. I think back to that time a lot, and it's something that I will carry with me through my whole life.
"We had a lot of veterans on the team, a lot of guys who'd been winning like Marty Brodeur and Patrik Elias and other veterans. It was good coming in as a young guy being around people like that. You learned a lot, and they were great leaders."
The 26-year-old is one of the veterans in Buffalo, and he quietly leads by example.
"He's a great professional," said linemate Jordan Nolan. "He's always doing the right thing. He's always working hard. His emotions never get too high or too low. He's been around for a while now, so I think it's good for some of the guys just to see that."
Unfortunately, they haven't seen enough of it. An ankle injury limited Josefson to just 13 of the opening 37 games. He entered the game against the Devils with one goal and one assist while skating 11:28 per night.
"I really like it here in Buffalo," Josefson said. "There's a great group of guys, and I think we're on our way to the right path here. It feels like we have something exciting going on here in Buffalo.
"We just have to start winning some games here, and it will be even more fun."
Story topics: Jacob Josefson