will make his NHL debut on Saturday against the Montreal Canadiens – making the 6-foot-8, 19-year-old defenseman one of the youngest, and tallest players in Buffalo Sabres history.
In part, Myers will be in the lineup due to an injury to Toni Lydman (hand), who practiced with the team Friday but is still unable to play. But with seven other healthy defensemen on the roster, Head Coach Lindy Ruff said it ultimately came down to Myers’ improved play that pushed him to the starting lineup.
“He’s played well. He maybe started a little slow but his last few games he’s played very good hockey for us,” Ruff said. “He’s earned the right to play and has played as good, or better, than some of our other players.”
At 19 years and 245 days old, Myers is tied with Lee Fogolin (Oct. 10/74) as the 16th youngest player to suit up in a season opener for Buffalo. There have been 23 teenagers in total to accomplish the feat, with five players doing it twice.
The youngest player to have ever participated in an opener for Buffalo was Pierre Turgeon (18, 41) on Oct. 8. The last teenager to play in a Sabres season opener was Philippe Boucher (19, 198) on Oct. 8/92 vs. Quebec [stats courtesy of Kevin Snow / Sabres PR].
Myers will face a Montreal team that has gone under a dramatic transformation since last season. General Manager Bob Gainey saw 11 veterans leave the organization this summer, while bringing in four new forwards and three blueliners.
Notable veterans include forwards Brian Gionta, Mike Cammalleri, Scott Gomez and Travis Moen. The Habs also picked up defensemen Hal Gill, Paul Mar and former Sabres defenseman Jaroslav Spacek.
“Jaro did a real good job for us,” Ruff said. “When we lost some players his ice time would go up in the mid-20s. He’s a real good competitor, he’s a good power play guy… He’ll easily be able to fill in there, and fill in nicely.
“He was a strong voice in our room. He’s an energetic guy that plays the game hard.”
The Sabres drop the puck at 7:15 p.m. at HSBC Arena. There are still 500 tickets available for the game.
Fans are encouraged to be in their seats by 7 p.m. to witness the 2009-10 Buffalo Sabres take the ice for the first time, introduced by Sabres play-by-play legend Rick Jeanneret.
Additionally, the Labatt Blue Zone and satellite Sabres Store will be unveiled to the public for the first time when the doors open at 5 p.m. The Labatt Blue Zone, located on the west side of the 100 level concourse, will provide a new gathering place for fans featuring two bars with flat screen TV’s and 12 tables with bar stool chairs. The satellite Sabres Store is located on the east side of the 100 level concourse (formerly Sabretooth’s House, which now located on the 100 level near aisle 17).
The pre-game festivities get underway promptly at 5 p.m. outside HSBC Arena, in the plaza with live music from the Strictly Hip. Food and drink will be available for purchase; there is a three beer limit per person.
The party will take place rain or shine with free admission, as a game ticket will not be required for entrance to the party.
“It’s a great night to be back in front of your fans,” Ruff said. “In our case we go up against a team that already has a game under their belt and they’re probably going to be better than they were in the previous game. For us it’s just wipe the slate clean and get after it.”
NOTES: Drew Stafford
(concussion)continued to practice with the team Friday. Ruff said he would make a decision on the winger Saturday... Lines at practice Friday were as follows: Vanek-Roy-Connolly, MacArthur-Kennedy-Pominville, Hecht-Gaustad-Grier, Kaleta-Ellis-Stafford, Paetsch-Mair-Paille -- Rivet-Butler, Montador-Sekera, Myers-Tallinder -- Miller, Lalime