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Sabres Notebook: Matthew Barnaby, Andrew Peters to tell hockey stories for charity

Matthew Barnaby was never the type to bite his tongue.

During his playing days, the former Buffalo Sabres winger always gave riveting interviews to the media, much to the chagrin of his bosses.

Still, Barnaby had to hold back at times. Not anymore. Barnaby, along with Andrew Peters, will tell stories of life in the dressing room, on the bench and on the ice during "Tales from the Penalty Box," a charity event Saturday night at Buffalo RiverWorks. Admission costs $20 – attendees must be 21 years or older – and all proceeds will benefit Alzheimer's research through the Gordie Howe Cares foundation.

This isn't a typical question-and-answer session. It is designed more like a comedy show since stories of former players and coaches often have a hilarious twist with explicit language.

"We thought it would be a great idea to take it a step further and really push the limit," Barnaby told The Buffalo News in a phone interview Wednesday. "A lot of guys are really guarded in what they say. I'm really not. I thought it would be a great idea to do these and really give people the nitty-gritty without taking down certain people. If I hated them, certainly they're going down. If I liked them or whatever I would never do anything to put anyone in jeopardy, except give people insight into when I played, in the locker room, things I said on the ice that you can never say on the radio or TV and get away with."

Barnaby, 45, played parts of seven seasons with the Sabres and finished his NHL career with 2,562 penalty minutes and 300 points in 834 games. A longtime area resident, he currently is a co-host on SiriusXM's NHL radio network and has participated in charitable causes since his playing days.

Peters, now 38 and a former second-round draft pick, played five seasons with the Sabres before retiring in 2011. He hosts "The Instigators" on MSG and WGR Radio, and this will be the first hot-stove event in which he has participated with Barnaby. Former NHL winger Andre Roy was involved in the event last month in Ottawa.

Barnaby, who is still revered by Sabres fans for his fearlessness and tenacity on the ice, chose to volunteer his time for this cause because his grandmother, Ethel Simmons, passed away with Alzheimer's.

This will be the fifth event – others in Ottawa and across Canada were sold out – and will begin at 7 p.m. Darcy Lynch will serve as a moderator, directing hockey questions to both players.

Barnaby said players save some of their best expletive-laced stories for these events. He also joked that anyone who takes his cellphone out will be escorted out of the building since neither player wants the stories to be shared on social media.

This event is particularly meaningful for Barnaby given his love for Buffalo.

"It's the place I'm most excited for," he continued. "I grew up in Ottawa and those shows were great because it was a lot of friends, a lot of family and people I know. ... I can't ever imagine doing it in another spot that's more special to me [than Buffalo] because the people are amazing here and everything that goes along with it. I have so many great memories and stories from playing here."

•••

Tage Thompson, the 21-year-old winger acquired from St. Louis as part of the Ryan O'Reilly trade, was a healthy scratch Thursday for the first time in 37 games. He had seven goals with three assists and a minus-9 rating during that span. Vladimir Sobotka, who remained in the lineup, has zero goals with a minus-12 rating over his previous 36 games but is one of the Sabres' most reliable options taking faceoffs.

"You just have to be positive," Thompson said. "Coaches are working with you trying to help you get better. It's not anything against you personally. They're not trying to attack you. They want to help you out. Obviously I want what's best for the team. For me, I need to be better. So just take this time to regroup, try to work on things and now I know what to do when I come back in."

•••

Minnesota center Mikko Koivu suffered a torn ACL and meniscus in his right knee after colliding with Thompson during the first period of the Sabres' 5-4 shootout win Tuesday night in KeyBank Center.

Thompson, who suffered knee injuries during his youth hockey career, had an idea what Koivu was going through.

"You never want to see that happen," Thompson lamented. "It's one of those plays where we run into each other at the blue line, he falls kind of funny and you never want to see another guy go down like that. I wish him nothing but a fast recovery."

***

Sabres prospect Alexander Nylander did not play in Rochester's 2-1 shootout loss to Syracuse on Wednesday night in Blue Cross Arena and is day-to-day with a lower-body injury, according to coach Chris Taylor. Nylander suffered the injury in practice Tuesday.

He has eight goals with 16 assists in 42 games for Rochester this season.

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