Kaleta did not play in Sunday's game against the Philadelphia Flyers due to a lower-body injury and on Monday, Sabres coach Ted Nolan told reporters that the rough and tumble, physical style Kaleta likes to play has led him to go under the knife to “clean up some mess.”
Over the past four seasons, Kaleta has only played in 38 games over the past two seasons, missing most of that time due to injuries or suspensions.
“He wears everything on his sleeve. Boy, his heart’s on his sleeve and when you play that way, sometimes certain things are going to break down,” Nolan said. “But I do feel [for him].”
A CONSISTENT EFFORT
After a big trade on Wednesday, defenseman Mike Weber suddenly found himself among the longest-tenured players on the team.
Buffalo sent Drew Stafford and Tyler Myers to Winnipeg as part of the deal that brought in Evander Kane and Zach Bogosian. Both Myers and Stafford had previously served at various points in time as alternate captains for the Sabres.
With their departures and with Gorges also out with a lower-body injury, Nolan made Weber, a veteran of 287 NHL games, an alternate captain for the team’s game Sunday night against the Flyers.
“It’s a huge honor to play in this League. It’s an even bigger honor to wear an extra letter on your sweater,” Weber said Monday after practice at First Niagara Center. “I’ve always tried to bring the same game, same leadership my whole career, whether I was back five years ago or a healthy scratch for 20 straight.
“I’ve always tried to be the same guy in the locker room and obviously it was a huge honor last night to wear that letter for the boys.”
Weber’s play has been steady since he returned from minor knee surgery after Christmas. Nolan credited assistant Danny Flynn with putting Weber in situations where he may not be biting off more than he can chew.
Nolan also feels that Weber has brought consistency into the dressing room, being the same guy he’s always been.
“He comes out and competes all the time,” Nolan said. “I don’t think I’ve seen anything more. I’ve just seen the consistent message from him coming all the time.”
As far as his recent stretch of play goes, Weber gave credit to the various defensemen he’s been paired with this year and their ability as a corps to adapt to differing styles.
“I feel like I’ve just been trying to stay as consistent as possible. We’ve been a team that’s been so inconsistent over the last two, three seasons and a lot this season, it’s been my main focus to just stay as consistent as possible and bring some stability.
The injury to Gorges, who hasn't skated since Tuesday, has also opened the door for Andre Benoit to play a bigger role with the team. He’d been a healthy scratch the past three games, but found himself on the top pair with Bogosian, playing 17:57.
They matched up mostly against Philadelphia’s top players like Claude Giroux and Jakub Voracek.
“It was definitely fun to be able to contribute more,” Benoit said. “Playing with Bogo, it’s fun. He’s a good player and it was a good challenge for us.”
REMEMBERING STEVE MONTADOR
On Sunday, news broke that former Sabres defenseman Steve Montador passed away in his home in Mississauga, Ontario at the age of 35. Montador played in Buffalo from 2009-11 and recorded 49 points, 158 penalty minutes and a plus-16 rating in 151 games.
Weber remembers his old teammate being easy to talk to about virtually anything, describing him as a “wealthy of knowledge, an open book.”
On the plane, he’d pull guys aside to tell stories or try to help them with any problems they may be facing. Weber also remembers that during his tenure with the Sabres, Montador was taking university classes and would start doing his homework right when they got on the plane after a game.
“He was a man who was constantly busy and always working to better himself and better the people around him,” Weber said. “It’s an extremely tough loss. There were a few of us that were just talking to him last week. This one really hits home.”
Matt Ellis saw Montador set an example for many of the younger players on the team like Weber and Tyler Ennis.
“He was one of those guys that walked the walk. Day in and day out with his habits, they way he took care of himself, the way he would work out, they way he lived his life – he was a true professional,” Ellis said. “He is one of those guys you look at and he kind of exemplifies what being a pro in the National Hockey League was all about.”
80 Chris Stewart – 28 Zemgus Girgensons – 63 Tyler Ennis
26 Matt Moulson – 17 Torrey Mitchell – 12 Brian Gionta
82 Marcus Foligno – 65 Brian Flynn – 44 Nicolas Deslauriers
22 Johan Larsson – 37 Matt Ellis – 19 Cody Hodgson
61 Andre Benoit – 47 Zach Bogosian
51 Nikita Zadorov – 55 Rasmus Ristolainen
6 Mike Weber – 41 Andrej Meszaros
24 Tyson Strachan
34 Michal Neuvirth
35 Anders Lindback
Did Not Skate: 4 Josh Gorges (lower-body injury), 36 Patrick Kaleta (lower-body injury)
Injured Reserve: 8 Cody McCormick (blood clots), 9 Evander Kane (shoulder)