Buffalo’s new HarborCenter aims to be destination site for North American players and teams

Mike Brophy
harborcenter-640x427

Note: This article has been sponsored by HarborCenter.

It wasn’t until he was 18 years old and he got to meet Pat LaFontaine that Kevyn Adams rubbed shoulders with an NHL superstar.

Adams had attended hockey schools as a kid, but there were never any NHL instructors present. So as the 40-year-old ex-NHLer prepares to tackle the responsibility of imparting his experience and influence on young hockey players at the newly constructed HarborCenter in Buffalo, it is a responsibility he takes seriously.

“I just had that conversation with my mother the other day and she said, ‘Do you remember when you were a kid how excited you would have been to have an opportunity like this to work with an NHL player?’ and the truth is, it is pretty special,” said Adams, the director of the Academy of Hockey at HarborCenter.

HarborCenter, which officially opens Oct. 31 and will be home to the Buffalo Junior Sabres program as well as Canisius College men’s Div. I hockey team, is a hockey and entertainment complex with two NHL-sized rinks, six 1,000-square-foot dressing rooms, a sports bar and restaurant and a two-story Tim Horton’s Coffee and Bake Shop. Buffalo mayor Byron Brown will unveil a statue of former Sabres defenseman Tim Horton on the weekend.

Adams, a defensive specialist who played 540 games in the NHL scoring 59 goals and 136 points with a handful of teams, spent two years as the development coach with the Buffalo Sabres upon retiring as a player and then two more years as coach Lindy Ruff’s assistant before returning to school to complete his MBA. He was approached by Sabres owner Terry Pegula with the notion of building HarborCenter and has spent the past year and a half hiring staff and preparing for the opening of the facility.

Although he was born in Washington, D.C., Adams grew up in Buffalo and is pumped to be able to give back to the community he cherishes.

“It’s a really exciting opportunity to have the chance, with the Pegulas’ backing, to raise the level of hockey in Western New York and beyond,” Adams said.

Adams added he has always been passionate about player development and teaching as well as building on the business side. He said his philosophy is simple: “This game is about having fun; it’s at the core of everything we do. It’s about teaching players and coaches to love the game.”

Adams believes HarborCenter will become a destination site for players and teams from all over the United States and Canada. He said there are already plans in place for 20 tournaments starting Halloween weekend and running right through the end of hockey season for all levels of player, male and female.

The team Adams assembled to help run the Academy of Hockey includes former NHL goalie Martin Biron, who will be the director of goaltending, and another former NHL forward, Adam Mair. The staff will also include up to 10 instructors who either coached college hockey or played at a high level.

Adams will take a holistic approach to player development that will be all-encompassing from on-ice skill development to off-ice workouts with video as a teaching tool. There will be a small player-to-coach ratio.

“We want players,” Adams said, “from the young ones right up to NHL players, to come here and have a great experience.”

Dominik Hasek wins again as the Buffalo Sabres prepare to retire his number

Josh Elliott
Dominik Hasek Buffalo Sabres

He terrorized enemy shooters for years in Buffalo with his wild acrobatics and nigh-unbeatable glove, and now, former Sabre Dominik Hasek’s number will take a permanent place in the rafters of First Niagara Center in Western New York.

The Sabres will retire Hasek’s No. 39 jersey at a ceremony in Buffalo on Jan. 13 before a game against the Detroit Red Wings. It’s yet another honour for the award-winning ‘Dominator,’ who was inducted into the Hall of Fame in June.
Read more

Rumor Roundup: Is Dallas going Star searching?

Tyler Myers

The Buffalo News’ John Vogl reports Sabres defenseman Tyler Myers is enjoying an early resurgence, tied for second on the team in shots with winger Matt Moulson and ranking fifth overall in ice time among NHL players this season as of Friday. His play is also garnering attention in the rumor mill.

Vogl cites recent reports by TSN’s Bob McKenzie and Darren Dreger linking Myers to the Detroit Red Wings. They claim the 6-foot-8 blueliner could be on the move if the Sabres lower their asking price, which is currently said to include Red Wings prospect Dylan Larkin. Read more

Rumor Roundup: Sabres’ Chris Stewart drawing major interest

Chris Stewart

Buffalo Sabres right wing Chris Stewart frequently popped up in the rumor mill this week as a possible trade candidate. Stewart, who turns 27 on October 30, is earning $4.2 million this season (with a cap hit of $4.15 million) and becomes eligible for unrestricted free agency in July.

On Sunday, the Ottawa Sun’s Bruce Garrioch claimed “lots of teams” are interested to see what Sabres GM Tim Murray will do with Stewart, fellow UFA winger Drew Stafford and defenseman Tyler Myers, who’s under contract through 2018-19 at an annual cap hit of $5.5 million.

Garrioch noted the Ottawa Senators were interested in Stewart last season, but the Sabres asking price was “Mark Stone or some other high-end prospect.” If that price hasn’t changed, Garrioch doubts the Senators will do it.

Earlier this week it was suggested in this column Stewart might be a good fit with the Boston Bruins, who are struggling this season to replace Jarome Iginla as their first-line right wing. TSN’s Bob McKenzie reports the Bruins are indeed interested in Stewart, though he didn’t indicate if offers had been exchanged.

Assuming Murray seeks the same return as he reportedly did from the Senators (high-end prospect) for Stewart, he could have interest in center Ryan Spooner, goaltender Malcolm Subban, defenseman Joe Morrow or right wing David Pastrnak. The Bruins, however, currently possess $3.759 million in cap space, meaning the Sabres must either pick up nearly half of Stewart’s remaining salary or take on a salaried roster player in return.

It’s doubtful Murray will be interested in any of the Bruins potential UFA players. Chris Kelly‘s name has been mentioned as a trade candidate, but he’s a third-line center with a modified no-trade clause signed through 2015-16 at a cap hit of $3 million.

There’s no need for Murray to rush into trading Stewart, Stafford or Myers. He can simply allow this season to play out in hopes the market value for the trio improves leading up to the March 2 trade deadline.

FLIGHTLESS FLYERS SEEK BLUELINE HELP

For the second straight season the Philadelphia Flyers are off to a poor start. With only one victory in their first six games, there’s concern over the state of the Flyers defensive play. They’re 21st in shots-against per game (30.9) and possess the third-most goals-against per game (3.71) and fourth-worst in penalty-kill percentage (73.7).

Flyers GM Ron Hextall has limited cap space ($1.48 million) to bolster his defense. He’s reportedly seeking a defensive blueliner but the pickings are currently slim. Those mentioned in recent trade rumors – Carolina’s Andrej Sekera, Detroit’s Jakub Kindl and Edmonton’s Jeff Petry – aren’t considered shutdown defensemen.

It could cost Hextall one of his good young forwards to acquire a skilled stay-at-home blueliner. CSNPhilly.com’s Tim Panaccio claims the price among interested teams is Brayden Schenn, who’s in the first season of a two-year contract at an annual cap hit of $2.5 million.

All eyes on torrid-scoring Connor McDavid tonight in Buffalo

Ken Campbell
Connor McDavid (Terry Wilson/OHL Images)

The Buffalo Sabres are bad, epically bad, and they’ll get even worse once they trade away Tyler Myers and Chris Stewart. (To Detroit and Boston, respectively, is our guess.) And while they have a lot of company in the dregs of the NHL standings, their chances of getting one of Connor McDavid or Jack Eichel are looking very, very good.

(Depending on how the New York Islanders do, there’s a chance the Sabres could get a crack at both. And while the early results don’t favor that possibility, remember, it’s the Islanders we’re talking about here.) Read more

Rumor Roundup: Will the Oilers shop Eberle or Yakupov?

Jordan Eberle (Getty Images)

Though the Edmonton Oilers finally won their first game of the season, their early-season struggles continue to generate trade speculation.

Hockey Night in Canada’s Don Cherry told Sportsnet 590 he thinks the Oilers must trade one of their good young players if they’re to improve in the near future. Cherry expressed concern about the Oilers goaltending, but when asked if they should contact free agent Martin Brodeur, Cherry doubted Brodeur would go there.

Cherry also believes right wing Jordan Eberle would fetch the best return, as he doesn’t feel anyone could be interested in struggling winger Nail Yakupov. However, TVASports’ Renaud Lavoie claims there are teams interested in the 21-year-old right wing. Read more

Rumor Roundup: Red Wings still searching for missing blueline piece

Detroit Red Wings

The Detroit Red Wings are linked to Buffalo Sabres defenseman Tyler Myers in the rumor mill, but he’s not the only blueliner they could be pursuing. Sportsnet’s Nick Kypreos reports the Florida Panthers want to move blueliner Brian Campbell and the Red Wings are interested.

Kypreos claims the Wings hope to move rearguard Jakub Kindl, but the Panthers prefer one of their blueline prospects like Xavier Ouellet or Nick Jensen. It’s unclear if other clubs are interested in the 35-year-old Campbell, who is signed through 2015-16 at an annual salary of over $7.142 million.

The Wings only have roughly $2.720 million in cap space. They have little room for Campbell’s contract unless the Panthers agree to pick up half of his remaining salary, plus take on a salaried player from the Wings.

An obvious assumption would be shipping former Panthers center Stephen Weiss ($4.9-million annual cap hit) back to Florida, but he has a modified no-trade clause and must agree to such a move. It’s unlikely the Panthers want him back.

A bigger issue, however, is Campbell is a left-handed shot, which doesn’t suit the Wings need for a top-four blueliner with a right-handed shot. Unless the Wings get desperate, they’ll likely pursue a more affordable defenseman who suits their needs.

COULD CANES MOVE SEKERA?

The rumor mill was abuzz with excitement last week over speculation teams could have interest in Carolina Hurricanes center Eric Staal. It appears, however, he’s not the only member of the Hurricanes generating some trade chatter.

Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston reports defenseman Andrej Sekera is also a sought-after trade option. He notes the 28-year-old blueliner is coming off a 44-point performance and is eligible for unrestricted free agency at season’s end. Johnston feels Sekera would be a good fit in a number of NHL cities.

The Hurricanes, however, could be reluctant to move Sekera, who blossomed into a solid top-two pairing defenseman following his acquisition from Buffalo last year. The Ottawa Sun’s Bruce Garrioch claims the Hurricanes hope to re-sign Sekera, who’s making $2.75 million this season.

It’s up to Sekera to decide if he wants to stay with the team which gave him the opportunity to shine, or test the free-agent market for a more profitable contract.

BRUINS SEARCHING FOR A TOP LINE ANSWER

The Boston Bruins are still struggling to adjust to Jarome Iginla‘s off-season departure via free agency. Iginla was their first-line right wing and his absence this season has left a big hole on their top line.

Fluto Shinzawa of The Boston Globe believes the Bruins will keep searching for a potential replacement throughout this season, seeking a sizable winger with a right-hand shot. He feels they can use the assets received from the New York Islanders in the Johnny Boychuk deal as bargaining chips, notably the Philadelphia Flyer second-round pick in 2015.

Shinzawa also notes the Bruins must re-sign restricted free agents Dougie Hamilton, Torey Krug and Reilly Smith next summer, speculating they could prefer a winger in the final year of his current contract.

Perhaps Buffalo Sabres right wing Chris Stewart could fit the bill. He’s young (turning 27 on October 30), physical, has two 28-goal seasons under his belt and is eligible for UFA status in July. The only sticking point right now is his $4.15-million cap hit, while the Bruins only have over $2.240 million in cap space.

Rumor Roundup appears regularly only on thehockeynews.com. Lyle Richardson has been an NHL commentator since 1998 on his website, spectorshockey.net, and is a contributing writer for Eishockey News and The Guardian (P.E.I.).

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