Niagara Gazette

Pro Sports

November 5, 2011

Sabres rookie Tropp replaces suspended Kaleta

NOTEBOOK

(Continued)

BUFFALO —

“We’re looking for their best right winger,” Sabres coach Lindy Ruff said.

In September, Tropp impressed in the Traverse City prospects tournament, and then enjoyed a strong preseason, scoring a goal in three appearances.

“Competing there and getting into those games, seeing what the pace is like, definitely makes you feel a little bit better,” Tropp said. “I played pretty well in those.”

What did Ruff expect in Tropp’s first real game?

“I told him I want him to score,” Ruff joked. “I told him I want him to defend really well. I told him if he got in a fight to throw them with both hands.”

Kaleta’s suspension, meanwhile, disappointed Ruff.

New NHL discipline czar Brendan Shanahan, who’s come down hard on questionable hits, cited two previous Kaleta head-butts when he explained the suspension.

“I know there’s a new standard,” Ruff said. “Pat’s been playing hard. He’s been an important part of key areas of our game. He’s really worked hard at trying to tone down aspects of his game. I’ve got some disappointment.

“He’s a big part of our PK, we’re going to miss him. At the same point, I understand that, and if you go above that and you have a reputation and previous incidents, the punishment could be stiffer.

Kaleta said he “was going for the puck” when he rammed into Voracek along the boards.

“I was just trying to push the guy off the puck,” Kaleta said. “I don’t really make the decisions on that stuff. I’m going to take the positives out of it and not let it slow me down. As they say, ‘Rome wasn’t built in one day.’ I’m trying to become a different hockey player, a (bigger) threat to the positive side to our team, whether it’s penalty killing and just working with the puck.

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