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by Brian Wheeler / Buffalo Sabres
Beyond the Boards is written by the Buffalo Sabres Website Manager, Brian Wheeler. Joining the Sabres prior to the 2003-04 season, Wheeler is the main contact and content editor for He has worked in the NHL, NFL, AHL and NLL over the past 11 years.  Click here to send him an email.

Ryan Miller walks from the locker room to the rink (photo: Bill Wippert)
Dec 31, 2007, 5:57 PM EST

A few tidbits from the Sabres Winter Classic practice at Ralph Wilson Stadium on Monday afternoon.  These are just quick hitting things.  As much as we've written or posted content about this game - see the new directory here - you would think that this should count for more than two points in the standings.

The entire Sabres team completed the lengthy march from the Buffalo Bills home locker room to the ice on Monday.  That included injured winger Drew Stafford, who was forced to miss the last two games after sustaining a concussion against Ottawa on Dec. 26.

Stafford went out on the ice to simply be a part of the event on some level.

You have to feel bad for Stafford - and Clarke MacArthur, who was reassigned to Rochester yesterday, for that matter.  Both guys won't be able to skate with the team in the New Year's Day extravaganza. 

"Who wouldn't want to be a part of this," said head coach Lindy Ruff.  "If [Stafford] broke his leg, I think he would have still wanted to be out there."

Brian Campbell and Paul Gaustad were to the first two Sabres to venture onto the constructed rink in the middle of Ralph Wilson Stadium.  December's captain led the way and almost did a header onto the ice when he stumped in the doorway.

"I almost slipped there," laughed Campbell.  "It was a little icy there alone the boards.  It was really good though.  It was a lot of fun to wheel around out there."

Speaking of ice, the Sabres raved about the conditions of the actual ice surface following the skate.  Of course the conditions could change by 1 p.m. tomorrow, but if all things remain somewhat the same, the game itself may not look much different than a contest played in HSBC Arena.

Here are a few comments:

Andrew Peters:

"The ice was really good.  I know that some people were concerned with the time frame that it was put in, but I thought the ice was great."

Jaroslav Spacek:

"I was checking the rink construction online all the time and it was pretty interesting.  I saw after the Bills game and saw that their stuff was flying all over the place with the wind.  I was excited because it kept going back and forth: it was warm then cold; it was snowing and then raining.  I seemed so difficult to build an ice rink, but the ice actually came out great.  It was pretty hard and really reminded me when I was playing hockey on the pond in our backyard.  It was fun and I hope the weather will be the same."

Thomas Vanek:

"It was good.  The ice was really good.  It may be a little bit slower than HSBC Arena, but that's to be expected because it's a little colder.  I think the ice held up great.  We were out there for an hour and it was good from start to finish."

If it's as cold as it was today, the equipment managers will try to keep the player's skates sharper than they would if the game was played in HSBC Arena.  Warmer weather would force the blades to be dulled a little.

I worked in Ralph Wilson Stadium, attended quite a few games here - professional and otherwise - but the strangest thing I've seen was the Zambonis coming out of the tunnel to resurface the ice. 

The entrance door to the rink is in the same location as HSBC Arena's - in regards to location on the rink itself - but there is a little ramp on the outside. 

See a very poor picture from the press box below...

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