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Thibault a fortunate son for Sabres

Monday, 12.31.2007 / 8:06 PM / 2008 NHL Winter Classic

By Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

Though he likely won't see any action in the AMP Energy Winter Classic, Sabres' backup goaltender Jocelyn Thibault will be ready for the elements. 
ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- Jocelyn Thibault won’t let his role in The AMP Energy NHL Winter Classic get him down.

As the Buffalo Sabres’ backup goalie, Thibault is well aware that he’s No. 2 behind his team’s No. 1 spokesperson for this major event.

Ryan Miller is the man in Buffalo, which means if Thibault sees one second of ice time Tuesday (1 p.m. ET, NBC, CBC, RDS, NHL Radio), it will mean something awful happened to the Sabres, be it an injury to Miller or the Penguins unloading on him in front of a national television audience.

That’s why Thibault is taking an altogether different approach to being part of hockey history.

He’s happy to live in it, ice time be damned.

“Obviously it would be nice to play, but I look at it as that I’m fortunate to be here and I’m fortunate to live this event from the inside,” Thibault said. “It’s nice to play, but I have a view of it from the inside, so I feel blessed. I’m also happy my kids will be here to see this event so hopefully they’ll remember it for a long time.”

Thibault still plans to go about his preparation as usual, with a few minor hiccups.

While he will prepare for the game as if it’s any other afternoon game, this time his goalie mask will be topped with a winter hat fashioned to look like a hockey sock. Both Thibault and Miller displayed that fashion statement Monday afternoon.

“It kept everything warm,” Thibault said. “It kept my thoughts warm. I need that.”

Thibault will zone in on the game from the bench, where he’ll watch closely, hoping to pick up any little tendencies from Penguins players that may help him should he have to jump over the boards. But he’ll do so while trying to avoid the distraction of gazing around the vastly different venue, this time with his backside warmer than usual due to the heaters built into the player’s boxes.

Should he have to relieve Miller, Thibault joked that he won’t be coming in cold.

“We wouldn’t get that in a regular game,” Thibault said. “I may be warmer than I usually am.”

No offense to Thibault, but every Buffalo fan hopes he stays that way, warm and toasty right on the bench.

Thibault wouldn’t mind that either. That’s his part of hockey history.

“We all would like to play in the game, but you can only play one goalie and I wish Ryan plays well, nothing happens, and everybody goes home happy,” Thibault said. “If something happens I’ll be ready, but it’s my job to be backing up.”

Contact Dan Rosen at drosen@nhl.com.

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When I first became captain here, Monsieur Beliveau came to me and said, 'You're going to be fine. You don't have to change, you got selected because of who you are.'

— Saku Koivu on Thursday, recalling what he was told by the late Jean Beliveau when he was named Canadiens captain in 1999
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