Niagara Gazette

Pro Sports

September 17, 2012

Sabres trying to remain upbeat as lockout practices begin

(Continued)

AMHERST —

Still, Peters had some fun, unzipping his track jacket afterward and pulling out his whistle so a TV camera would film it.

“I never thought I’d want to coach,” Peters said. “I’d love to coach. I think I wouldn’t be an Xs and Os guys. I think I could be a motivator kind of guy and a fun guy around the locker room. I’m not a coach by any means.”

McKee, meanwhile, skated beside players he coached last season.

“Tomorrow I’ll probably be hurting, so I’ll probably be wearing a track suit,” McKee joked.

So far, the Sabres seem to be loose and making the best of a tough situation. While the sides are far apart on splitting revenue – owners want the players’ share down from 57 percent to about 47 – the dispute doesn’t appear as grim as last time, when the entire season was canceled.

“We all have hope. It’s one day at a time,” said defenseman Jordan Leopold, the team’s union representative. “I’ve said this in many interviews. The whole grand scheme of things can change overnight. Somebody makes a phone call and talks progress, and you can hatch out a deal on a piece of paper in about 20 minutes. So who knows?”

Former Sabres forward Jochen Hecht, a free agent hoping to find work when the stoppage ends, is more optimistic than in 2004-05.

“I didn’t even come over to see what’s going to happen (then),” said Hecht, who’s skating with his old teammates. “I just stayed in Germany right away. This time a lot of guys came back. They’re interested. They thought that there’s hope to come together.”

Are the players more informed and united this time around?

“I think that’s an easy question to answer,” Leopold said, “and that is absolutely yes.”

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