Niagara Gazette

Pro Sports

July 10, 2009

SABRES: Dineen still in learning mode

LEWISTON — As Kevin Dineen sat in the slot on the south rink at Dwyer Arena, you’d have been hardpressed to tell the coach from the players if not for his Sabres windbreaker. Pucks came scorching off his stick, tucked just under that spot where the crossbar and post meet on an unattended net.

Dineen might be 20 years from his glory days and six years from his last National Hockey League service, but the coach of the Sabres’ American Hockey League affiliate can still fire away.

During the Sabres development camp that wrapped up Friday at Niagara University, Dineen got a chance to so what he loves most — eat, breathe and talk hockey.

And shoot.

For Dineen, who started his professional career with the Binghamton Whalers in 1984, hockey hasn’t just been a passing vocation, it’s been a stable source of income. After a playing career that spanned almost 1,200 NHL games, Dineen has become a solid American Hockey League coach, leading his team to winning records in each of his season.

At camp, he seems to mesh perfectly with the Sabres coaching staff, even though his Portland Pirates swapped parent clubs prior to last season.

“It’s like anything, you just get a level of confidence. I come to a camp like this and I enjoy spending the time with Brian McCutcheon and Lindy Ruff and James Patrick, it’s like a week of Hockey 101,” Dineen said. “We come in and we’re talking about systems, we’re talking about players. The learning curve is really long and I’ve only been doing this four years.

“And it’s very enjoyable to be exposed to how different people do business as well. The Sabres do things a little different than the Ducks and that’s different than the Blue Jackets.”

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