For many of the Sabres, Thursday's fatal crash of a Continental commuter plane into a home in the Buffalo suburb of Clarence, N.Y., hit very close to home.
The crash killed all 49 people on board the plane and one person in the house it crashed into. Two other people in the house sustained minor injuries.
Many of the Sabres live in the small town in upstate New York, and the focus at Friday's morning skate prior to the game against San Jose was on the crash, not on hockey.
"I heard it fairly quick," an emotional coach Lindy Ruff
told the media. "I heard the sirens. I heard everything. I watched 'til like, 1:30 in the morning. It was incredible -- surreal at times. You think that maybe it's something small; ending up being as big as it was, you get tremendous feelings about an area as small as where we live, all our players in the area and the number of times you fly.
"It affects a lot of things. It's tough. You've got to get by it. You don't want to live through it, but it's something where we need to support our community, we need to support our friends and family."
Goaltender Patrick Lalime
said he saw the plane coming down.
"It was pretty low," he said. "We didn't hear a noise at all, but as we went back outside, we saw fire everywhere. We called 911 to make sure they knew what happened."
Defenseman Teppo Numminen
heard the plane's descent.
"I heard the plane coming," Numminen said. "I was in my bed and I heard it and I thought it sounded really weird -- really close to us. Then I heard a little 'poof' afterwards and I was thinking, 'That doesn't sound good; doesn't sound right.' So I looked out of my window and I saw the red sky and I knew something was wrong."
The plane went down in light snow and fog around 10:20 p.m. Thursday about five miles from Buffalo Niagara International Airport. Continental Connection Flight 3407 from Newark, N.J., came in squarely through the roof of the house, its tail section visible through flames shooting at least 50 feet high.