Trying to turn things around at Buffalo, new coach Craig Ramsay wants a take-charge player.
"We need someone who goes out and takes charge and carries the puck a little bit more, someone who is not afraid to get it and go with it, create some offense for us," says Ramsay, who replaced Scotty Bowman on Nov. 3.
Otherwise, Ramsay has been working on the Sabres' defense--and their mental state.
"We've worked hard on our defensive game; we feel we have to be strong defensively," Ramsay said. "We don't want to get into any shootouts. We have to play a grinding kind of style.
"Actually, we're playing well enough to get points. We really feel we could have had some more wins, but we're finding one way or another not to win games. It starts to grow on you; the later it grows, the more trouble we're having. You certainly have to break that negative feeling on the team."
Buffalo goaltender Tom Barrasso has been singled out by some of the Sabres' opponents for their failures this season.
After a 5-4 loss to Hartford earlier this season during which Barrasso was yanked in the first period, Whaler defenseman Dana Murzyn said he felt the goaltender got down on himself whenever a team scored a quick goal.
Teammate Kevin Dineen said the same.
"When we started scoring in the opening game (at Buffalo) last year, you could just see Barrasso getting more and more frustrated," he said. "We got to him early and rattled him."
Orland Kurtenbach is back in hockey coaching at the tier-two junior level.
The former NHL player and coach of the Vancouver Canucks is behind the bench of the Richmond Sockeyes in the British Columbia Junior Hockey League.
"I had no intention of getting back into hockey until Bruce Taylor (owner of the Sockeyes) called me in July to find out if I was interested in coaching his team," Kurtenbach, 50, said. "I told him I didn't have time, what with the problems of getting my insurance business and golf driving range off the ground.
"But, I'd missed being involved in the game at different times, I guess, and took a look at the schedule. All the practices are at nights and the traveling isn't too bad. . . . So I decided to take it on for a year."
Kurtenbach became the first member of the Canucks in 1970, first as captain and later as coach of the team.
After goaltender Bob Froese said he was "not mentally prepared" to play, Philadelphia Flyers Coach Mike Keenan said: "I would have played him 40 to 50% of the time if he hadn't made the comment."
Froese--last year's leader in goals allowed, save percentage and shutouts--has taken a backseat to rookie Ron Hextall and has demanded to be traded.