The NHL labor negotiations seem to be intensifying. The league and the players association spent another day exchanging offers on Wednesday. The day's schedule included the players' response to the league's latest offer, and more evening meetings.
AMHERST, N.Y. — We're nearing the end. Very soon, players will either be back to work - or know they're done for the season.
"Obviously, the word has been pretty quiet right now, and I think that's a good thing because it means that they're working. Both sides, it seems like they're focused on getting a deal done, so that's what we're working on as well," said Drew Stafford.
"I think we're anxious. I think we're still kind of in the same boat, taking it one game at a time. As you can see from our skate today, we're still preparing to play," said Matt Ellis.
Training has been one of the biggest challenges for players through this work stoppage. Anyone who didn't go to Europe to play has been on their own. And if a deal is struck, they will almost instantaneously go from an extended vacation to a hard core NHL training camp.
"Bottom line is: we have to prepare like we are playing in two weeks, because if we don't then we're just cheating ourselves and we're letting everyone else down," said Stafford.
That includes young fans, who added excitement to Wednesday's hard skate - with schools out and all.
"It was nice. It brought some new energy into the building. We had music going. We had lots of kids watching and cheering for some of the goas that were scored out there. It brought the atmosphere up a little bit. It's nice this time of year when the rinks are full with kids," Ellis said.
And hopefully they'll see the Sabres on TV and in NHL arenas soon.