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by Kevin Snow / Buffalo Sabres
The last thing Lindy Ruff expected to see in a training camp scrimmage was Patrick Kaleta being helped off the ice by the team’s medical staff. But that was the case tonight, after Kaleta took a shot to the head from Thomas Vanek as he came out of the corner with the puck. It was an out of character play for Vanek, and one that surprised Ruff as well.

“I think the obvious answer is ‘yes,’” said Ruff, when asked if the hit was too much for a practice session. “Whether Van leaned in too much, or whether Patty was coming with too much momentum … you never want anybody hurt in practice. That’s the extreme case, but he’s going to be fine.”

Ruff also provided updates on injured forwards Jochen Hecht and Derek Roy. Ruff said that Roy is close to returning, but he may be held out of Friday’s game in Washington if there’s any hesitation. Hecht saw another doctor this week, and skated on his own after tonight’s practice. Ruff said the hope is that he’ll start progressing in the next few days.

More than 1,500 fans attended the open practice that started with a full-team autograph session on the First Niagara Center concourse at 5 p.m. The players hit the ice just after 7 p.m., and ran through several drills before taking part in a brief scrimmage. For the players it was a chance to not only get on the ice at night during a week with just one game, but it also gave them an opportunity to perform in front of their home fans.

“I think it’s good for the fans to see what we do on a normal off day,” said Jordan Leopold. “We did a situational scrimmage and had about 30 minutes of practice. And we also had a chance to see the fans and interact with them. It’s a good experience for all of us.”
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