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by Erin Pollina / Buffalo Sabres
Raffi Torres (Getty Images)
Raffi Torres may have only been in Buffalo for a few hours, but he already has an idea as to what he’s getting into.

He got a taste of just how rabid the local hockey market can be while playing in Columbus – when more than half of the fans wore Sabres jerseys at Nationwide Arena rather than Blue Jackets gear during a game in February.

“I kind of missed that playing in Columbus,” the Sabres newest addition said. “The fans are great but there are only about 14,000-15,000 per game. It will be nice coming into a town where they know their hockey here, they demand hard work out of their players and it will be nice to try and give them that.”

Torres was acquired in the final hours of the 2010 NHL Trade Deadline from the Blue Jackets, in exchange for Nathan Paetsch and a second-round draft pick. General Manager Darcy Regier said the left winger was picked up both for his tenacity on the ice as well as his shot.

Head Coach Lindy Ruff thinks he will provide a physical presence as well.

“We’ve seen him play and we know what he can do,” Ruff said.” He’s a big strong kid with a great shot. It may take a little bit of time to breed a bit of familiarity with the other players, but we know what he brings and I think what he brings can be helpful for our team.”

During Thursday’s practice, his first as a member of the Sabres, Torres was paired alongside Derek Roy and Jason Pominville. No stranger to the goal-scoring category, currently with 19 scores and 31 points, the winger said he will try to keep it simple until he becomes more comfortable with the system and his new unit.

“Roysie and Pominville are highly skilled, with a lot of speed,” he said. “I want to make sure I’m in the right zone spot and not get lost out there; try and keep my legs under me, and not try and do too much.”

While Torres admitted he doesn’t know too many of his teammates on a personal level yet, he does have some comfort just 90 miles north of the border.

As a Toronto native, Torres has some relatives close by for the first time in quite a while, spending his last six years with the Oilers and Blue Jackets, respectively.

“Coming to Buffalo is probably going to cost me about $5,000 on Friday,” he laughed. “It’s good. I’ve been playing on some teams out West and this is a chance for some family and friends to come out and watch some games.”

Torres will play his first game in Blue and Gold on Friday night, when the Philadelphia Flyers come to Buffalo. Gametime is 7:30 p.m. at HSBC Arena. Fans can purchase tickets for Torres’ debut by clicking here.

“I’ll be going hard up and down along my wall, try to finish some hits, score some goals along the way,” he said. “Only good things can come out of this organization. We just have to start putting some wins up.”
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