NEW YORK — Former owner B. Thomas Golisano will be among those honored when the Buffalo Sabres stage "2000s Night," their latest decade tribute in KeyBank Center, prior to Thursday's game against Columbus.
Golisano and former managing partners Larry Quinn and Dan DiPofi will be major attractions in the pregame ceremony and will be honored by the team, much like the Knox family was feted in December on Founders Night.
Golisano purchased by the team from NHL operation in 2003 and prevented it from possibly relocating. The Sabres went to the playoffs three times before he sold to Terry Pegula in 2011, including the back-to-back runs to the Eastern Conference final in 2006 and 2007.
The Sabres won the Presidents' Trophy with a league-best 113 points in 2006-07, and it will be on display on the 100 level concourse for fans to take photos with pregame. Golisano, of course, is also remembered for the devastating losses of co-captains Daniel Briere and Chris Drury to free agency on July 1, 2007. The Sabres have yet to win a playoff series since that duo left town.
Quinn, the driving force behind the construction of then-Marine Midland Arena in the mid-'90s, left the organization under the ownership of the Rigas family but returned to join Golisano. DiPofi, the team's longtime chief financial officer, also joined the group.
As in previous decade ceremonies, a large group of alumni is scheduled to be introduced. Subject to change, the current roster of alumni slated to attend is highlighted by former captains Daniel Briere and Jason Pominville, current team broadcasters Martin Biron and Andrew Peters, Sabres development coach Adam Mair and Angola native and youth hockey director Patrick Kaleta.
Other attendees are Eric Boulton, Brian Campbell, Tim Connolly, J.P. Dumont, Paul Gaustad, Michal Grosek, Patrick Lalime, Adam Mair, Jay McKee, Daniel Paille, Michael Ryan and Rhett Warrener.
The first 10,000 fans in attendance will receive a decade-themed pennant. Alumni will be honored on the ice prior to a special 2000s video, with 2000s-themed scoring graphics and music from the decade also on the docket
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Sabres coach Ralph Krueger was pleased with the NHL starting debut of Jonas Johansson in Thursday's shootout loss to Detroit.
Johansson gave up two first-period goals to Dylan Larkin, one on a screened shot and the other on a 2-on-1 in the final second of the period. He was also beaten by Tyler Bertuzzi's quick chip from in front with 6:04 left in the third period. He made 18 saves on 21 shots.
"I thought he dealt with the game well," Krueger said. The first goal "was a no-see goal off the side and they had a strong double-screen on that that we should have done better against.
"We like the game he showed us and he's a good addition to our depth. What you have to love is how he fills the net. His 'pro package' is really strong, meaning all the things he can take care of, and we find he really has a good package that gives him a chance to only get better with experience now."
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The apparent phaseout of veteran Henrik Lundqvist (10-11-3, 3.13/.907) has seemingly begun in the Rangers goal as he sat out for the seventh time in nine games. Alexandar Georgiev (12-10-1, 3.12/.909) will start tonight and rookie Igor Shesterkin (4-1, 2.61/.922) has burst on the scene since his call-up from Hartford.
Lundqvist is signed through next year at a cap hit of $8.5 million with a no-movement clause. It's conceivable the Rangers could buy out the top goalie in franchise history this summer.