The National Hockey League and the Buffalo Sabres today announced the NHL Combine will move to Buffalo in 2015 and 2016, with the event being held at First Niagara Center and the soon-to-be-completed HARBORCENTER complex across from the arena. The event, which has taken place in Toronto in previous years, showcases the top draft-eligible prospects from North America and Europe heading into the NHL Draft.
“The NHL Combine is an essential event for all of our Member Clubs in advance of the Draft, which continues to grow in importance,” said Colin Campbell, senior executive vice president of NHL Hockey Operations. “The League has pushed to improve the Combine each year and the state-of-the-art facilities in Buffalo will allow us to further enhance the quality of the event for our teams, prospects and media.”
The event, held in late May or early June, is a chance for representatives – typically scouts, coaches and general managers – from the NHL’s 30 member clubs to observe the prospects undergo physical and mental tests. Teams conduct individual interviews with prospects before they undergo various fitness and skill tests to hopefully improve their value in the Draft.
“We’ve had our eye on hosting the Combine for quite some time and we are thrilled that it will be coming to Buffalo,” said Ted Black, president of the Sabres. “Terry and Kim Pegula have made it a goal of this organization to create an environment here in Buffalo that is ideal for hosting highly visible events like the Combine and we are certainly ready to meet that challenge. All of our resources will be in place to ensure a successful event for the league and we’re proud to have the next wave of NHL players pass through Buffalo.”
First Niagara Center and HARBORCENTER offer a unique setting for the event. The combined facility – the two buildings are connected by a pedestrian bridge – is the only three-rink complex among NHL teams and offers an “all-in-one” package, with additional off-ice training space, restaurant and hotel housed in HARBORCENTER.
“HARBORCENTER was built with events like the Combine in mind,” said John Koelmel, HARBORCENTER’s president. “Our intent was to provide a world-class facility for hockey that attracts the sport’s best events. The NHL Combine continues to grow every year and we’re confident that HARBORCENTER and all of its amenities will only add to the experience for the league and all of the participating prospects.”
HARBORCENTER, which opens this fall, is a $172 million hockey and entertainment complex that is connected to First Niagara Center in the Canalside District of downtown Buffalo. Among its many amenities, the facility boasts two NHL-size rinks, 11 locker rooms, the Academy of Hockey, IMPACT Sports Performance training facility, (716) Food and Sport restaurant, a destination Tim Hortons location, a full-service Marriott hotel and a 750-space parking structure and additional retail space.
Partnering with the NHL and the Sabres is Kaleida Health, the largest healthcare provider in Western New York, to provide all medical services and testing for the Combine. In addition to providing on-site equipment and services, Kaleida’s local medical campuses will be available for additional, off-site testing locations.
"We are proud to partner with the National Hockey League and the Sabres in bringing the combine to Buffalo,” said Jody L. Lomeo, president and CEO of Kaleida Health. “Hosting this major event at HARBORCENTER is another step in the renaissance of our great community. Great things are happening across Western New York and we are happy to be a part of it. Our physicians and staff stand ready to work with the prospects and will deliver great care to them while they are in town.”