Niagara Gazette

Pro Sports

January 1, 2007

SABRES NOTEBOOK: Team 'far removed' from Nolan situation

BUFFALO — The drama, Lindy Ruff insisted, is long gone when it comes to Ted Nolan and the former coach’s return to HSBC Arena on Monday.

Only one Buffalo player — Martin Biron — remains from Nolan’s tenure, and the storyline seemed moot as the Sabres beat the New York Islanders 3-1 on Monday.

“We are so far removed from that,” Ruff said. “I think it’s awesome and it’s a great story, but we’re so far removed from it. It’s 10 years ago. It’s a story, but half the team doesn’t even know about it.”

Ruff, of course, took over the team’s coaching reins in 1997 when Nolan was first offered a one-year extension by new general manager Darcy Regier. Soon after, Regier withdrew the offer.

“Personally, I’m glad to see he’s back in the game. He’s doing a very good job with that team,” Ruff said. “Ten days ago, that team was knocking on first place in that division. He deserves a lot of credit for that.”

•••

Paul Gaustad ended a 17-game scoring drought when he opened the scoring with a power-play marker at 8:06 of the first period.

Gaustad, who now has six goals on the season, last scored on Nov. 20 against Tampa Bay. The center scored twice that night against the Lightning.

Gaustad was recently promoted to the second line with Chris Drury and Ales Kotalik and the improvement has been noticeable.

“So far, Chris and Paul have really played well together and it’s really helped Al at the same time,” Ruff said. “That trio likes playing with each other and they’ve made good plays. They seem to be in good harmony going up the ice.”

•••

A quartet of Tonawanda club hockey players got a moment in the spotlight during the first intermission, as part of the Dunkin’ Donuts shootout. Three shooters from Tonawanda — Gary Cich, Greg Fronczak and T.J. Morris — and goalie Corey Muff faced Jamestown in an NHL-style shootout.

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