September 16, 2005
Q: Lindy Ruff has decided to have yourself and Daniel Briere as "co-captains," how do you think the team will benefit from two centers as captains? Would it not be a more logical combination to have a defenseman and a forward as co-captains? - Michael T from Royal Oak, MI
A: I think that in having such a young team, both Danny and I being relatively young, it's good to have some of the responsibilities spread around. It will be four eyes watching over, two voices and two brains being able to see and talk to everyone, so I think it'll be beneficial.
In some cases, I think that if the circumstances call for it or if the situation presents itself, I don't see anything wrong with having two captains from one position.
Q: What would you say is your best attribute as an NHL player? - Andrew F from Williamsville, N.Y.
A: Probably my competitiveness and my desire to show up every day and try to out work and out-compete my opponent.
Q: How does it feel to be playing in the NHL as opposed to the NCAA? - Andrew H. from Winnipeg, MB
A: This is more of a job, but both are fun. It's still a game on the basic level, but it's my job and people pay a lot of money to come watch us. At the end of the day it's still just a game and you try to approach it the same way.
Q: What are your thoughts on Boston University's upcoming season? Do you still follow the teams' progress? Are you a Red Sox fan? - Jon C. from Alpharetta, GA
A: Yeah, I follow them a lot, especially during the lockout when I got the chance to see some games. I know they lost a pretty good class of seniors, and Chris Bourque went pro, but hopefully they got some good recruits and I think they should have a good year.
No, I'm a Yankees fan.
Q: Do you have a pre-game ritual? If yes, what is it? - Ryan D. Kennewick, WA
A: Not really. No matter what it is, a game or practice, I just try to get to the rink early, so that there are no surprises.
Q: Is there a reason you chew on your mouth-guard so much during games? - Noah Y
A: No, I don't know why. I don't like wearing it, so in between the whistles I like to take it out to breath a little bit. It's not my favorite thing but I definitely wear it for protection.
Q: How old were you when you first started skating? What's your favorite drill to do in training camp? - Frank M from Brockport, N.Y.
A: About four or five, I had two older brothers that I used to follow around to the frozen ponds or the rinks.
I like doing two-on-one's, but we haven't really done that yet. We also do a drill at the start of practice sometimes; it's called static shooting. I like that one.
Q: Which of the younger players do you look forward to playing with? - Greg A. from Williamsville, NY
A: Paul Gaustad is definitely one. Ryan Miller, Derek Roy and it will be nice to have Timmy Connolly back, playing regularly and healthy.
Q: You are a player who has been on both a Western and an Eastern conference team. Is there a big difference from the two conferences? And if so what are they? - Dan G. from Fredonia, NY
A: Well, I think we are now going to see some changes with the new rules, but previously, I think the West had more of a willingness to exchange rushes, breakaways and up-and-down play. In the East, there were a couple teams that would go head-to-head, but for the most part, it's pretty controlled. I think that will all change now.
Q: In your opinion, what is the Sabres potential of being a viable contender in the Northeast division? - Rudy A. from Charlottesville, VA
A: I think we are right in the hunt and that's how we have to look at ourselves. We have a lot of guys that played hockey last year, we made a few key acquisitions so we shouldn't expect anything other than being at the top of our division and conference. Going into a season, I don't think it's healthy or right to start out going for fourth or fifth.
Q: What are your thoughts on the Sabres approach to free agency and roster moves? Would a "SPLASH" signing have been more beneficial? - Jeffrey McCabe from Waxhaw, NC
A: I think it's all relative to who that player is. Some signings I'm glad we didn't do. I'm very glad with what we did and the personnel that we have. We are very well suited for the new era of the NHL, not just for this year or next year. We have a pretty good organization here and we will for quite a while.
Q: After the lockout, how do you think hockey/the NHL will reestablish itself with the fans? - Nathan T. from Roseville, CA
A: I think the rule changes are a big step. If the product is more exciting, then people are going to watch it. Hopefully, teams will rebuild their markets simply by being "fan friendly" and put the game back in people's minds.
Q: Are you happy with the new league rules? How do you think the players will adjust to the changes? Do you think they will keep it clean and fun while making the fans feel closer to the game? - Mel B. from Harbor City, CA
A: I hope they do. The rules should draw out the creativeness in people and this game. That's what sells the game.
Q: How do you think Thomas Vanek will contribute to the Sabres roster? - Claire A. from Minneapolis, MN
A: He had a great year in Rochester last year scoring 40-plus goals. If he should stick here with us and play on a top line, hopefully we'll get a good amount of goals out of him. Certainly that would help us a lot.
Q: The line of Hecht, Grier and yourself really took off during the last NHL season. What elements contribute to the chemistry that the three of you share on the ice? - Eric Robjohns from Webster, N.Y.
A: I played with Mike in college a lot and know him very well. Mike has played with Jochen in Edmonton. We each just seemed to bring a little something different to the table and we click pretty well. Hopefully, we can pick up right where we left off.
As told to Zita McKenna