There are several ties linking the Kings with the Sabres and Upstate New York, both geographically and through the network of amateur and professional hockey. As noted earlier, Sabres head coach Ron Rolston was an assistant at Clarkson University, where he coached Willie Mitchell, while Trevor Lewis roomed with Ryan Miller during USA Hockey’s Olympic Orientation Camp in August. There’s also the connection with Matt Moulson, who split time between Los Angeles and Manchester over three seasons as a part of the L.A. organization. Ben Scrivens played college hockey at Cornell. Jordan Nolan’s father, Ted Nolan, coached the Sabres from 1995-97.
Many Kings – Dustin Brown, Drew Doughty, Jake Muzzin and Nolan, amongst others – will also be playing in front of close friends and family tonight, as Buffalo is a relatively short trip from Southern Ontario and the Northeastern United States.
There’s also Robyn Regehr, who played a season and a half with the Sabres before his trade to Los Angeles in early April. Because there wasn’t any time to do so last spring, he actually returned to Buffalo over the summer to completely move out of his old house.
Ithaca native Dustin Brown, on playing in Upstate New York:
It’s always fun playing in front of friends and family. Especially being, when I was drafted L.A. was probably the farthest I could get away. But it just makes coming back here a little more special.
Brown, on how many times he has played in Buffalo:
I think I have played here -I know at least twice- but maybe three times. I know have played at least twice.
Jordan Nolan, on growing up near Buffalo while his father coached the Sabres:
We lived here for about two weeks, and then we moved over to the Canadian side. We were just more comfortable with the schooling over there and we had friends over there already. We definitely spent a lot of time at the rink here though.
Nolan, on if it is special playing in Buffalo:
I’ve got lots of buddies that live close to here so they will be coming to the game tonight, but that’s pretty much the only thing I see. I was pretty young back in the day when my dad was coaching here. Just friends and family coming to the game, that’s about it.
Former Sabre Robyn Regehr, on the trade from Buffalo to Los Angeles:
At that point it looked like we weren’t going to make the playoffs here in Buffalo. And then in L.A. things looked a lot better than that and I thought I had a decent shot at having a good run at the Cup, which we did. That’s the only thing I really thought about. All the other stuff just kind of happened after I got there. I talked to Dean, the general manager there…and things fell into place the way they did. But it was really a simple decision about where the teams were at that exact moment last year on April 1st, I believe.
Regehr, on his time spent as a Sabre:
I am disappointed with the first year that I was here. I felt that we [were] better than what we played. We had a good start to that season, we were over in Europe, and then just struggled when we came back. Started getting some injuries and just never were really able to recover until it was too late in the season really to chase teams down by that point. Last season, it was tough because with the lockout and that shortened season it’s just not a normal season. And so it’s really tough to compare those two because they are very different in duration, and timing of it and things like that.