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by Steve Ott / Buffalo Sabres

I experienced a lot of mixed emotions when I first found out that I’d been traded to Buffalo. I had a tremendous amount of support during my 10 years in Dallas, and had met a lot of great people. A lot of things in my life also changed while I was there, including my daughter being born. I guess you could say I was growing as a person, and I turned into an adult in Dallas. I was really thankful for all the great times there.

But as much as I loved it there, I was looking for that new adventure. You always wonder, and you hear the rumblings, but when it finally happens, it hits you. I was really excited once I found out it was Buffalo. Obviously my great friend Mike Weber has been talking about Buffalo and how awesome it is here for a long time. I felt like I already knew what I was getting into during my “gym talks” with Webby. You add all those things up, and I definitely had a lot of mixed emotions going on.

Not having been traded before, I learned quickly that it really never hits you until it actually happens. They said I was getting traded; then I wasn’t getting traded. Then I wasn’t again; but then I did get traded after all. It’s a roller coaster when your name gets mentioned, starting with the trade deadline and then all the way into the summer. Once it happened I was really glad it was finally over. It also made me feel good right away when Darcy, Lindy and Mr. Pegula got on the phone and told me they were excited to have me. It made me feel really welcomed. And once I got to meet all the guys in the locker room, it was a real easy transition. The entire organization was super right from the get go.

I came to Buffalo almost right away, because I wanted to be set and ready to go in September for training camp. So I came down and got my place situated; had all the furniture from Dallas shipped here. I wanted to be ready so if the lockout hit, I didn’t have to worry about anything. I wanted to not have any distractions, and that was key. I stayed here for about a month prior to when training camp was supposed to start, but I eventually took off back to Windsor so I could skate in the Detroit area with some more bodies once more teammates started to leave for other places to play. But right when we were called back – “unlocked” I guess you could say – I was able to come back to Buffalo and be ready to go like it was September.

The Buffalo fans have been so supportive of me right from the start, and I really appreciated that. You can really see the passion of the fans, and that was exciting from day one. I wanted to be a part of the Northeast way of things, because people up here truly love hockey. I was at the Buffalo airport last night, and I saw “Go Sabres” posted on the flight tracker board. Those little things just show the pride this city has for their hockey team; you see it all over the place. I was even at Wegmans last week and saw their Buffalo Sabres cookies. Everyone is just so excited the game is back, and seeing all the Sabres pride is a pretty neat thing.

In addition to trying to stay in game shape during the lockout, I also got engaged to my girlfriend Erica. I’ve been with her for about four years now. She’s been amazing to my daughter, and that’s a huge factor for me. She’s an incredible person, and I feel completely spoiled by being with her. The lockout didn’t really play a part in the timing of it; it was probably overdue in the sense of how happy we are. But it just felt right. I couldn’t be happier and hopefully she feels the same way.

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