HELSINKI -- The Buffalo Sabres finished practice Thursday morning at Hartwall Areena with a bit of Finnish.
Coach Lindy Ruff called the team together at center ice, and the team sang "Happy Birthday" (in English) to Tyler Ennis, who turns 22 years old today. After that, they broke into small groups for post-practice stuff, but then Ruff was alerted it also was Ville Leino's birthday.
So the coach called everyone back together for another round of "Happy Birthday" -- only this time assistant coach Teppo Numminen led the club in the Finnish version of the tune in honor of Leino's 28th birthday.
"We didn't realize it was Ville's birthday, too," Ruff said. "We sang that one in Finnish, and I don't know how that one turned out. I sort of hummed along. Teppo could have had us singing anything. I didn't really know -- it could have been a setup."
Coming together was a popular topic after practice Thursday. This is the first European trip for the Sabres since the NHL starting doing it annually a few years ago, and Ruff and the players talked about the positives they have observed from making the trek.
The Sabres have a few key new players to incorporate to the team, Leino and defenseman Christian Ehrhoff among them, and they have had a chance to be like ambassadors for their new teammates when the club has spent time in their respective home countries.
"I thought the visit we had to the hospital (Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany) was a bit of an eye opener for some of us," Ruff said. "Getting to have the team meals, all the different functions together, we'll have another team meal tonight -- all of that brings the team to closer."