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Canadiens spoil Sabres' season-opening party

The Sabres hosted a packed and happy Party on the Plaza Thursday night. That mood shifted considerably after the home team lost its opening game to the Montreal Canadiens, 4-1.

The plaza was filled with a panoply of hockey jerseys from various eras of the hockey team and a few and scattered fans wearing jerseys from the visiting Montreal Canadiens. Perhaps the largest contingent of fans with Sabres jerseys wore sweaters carrying the 15 and "Eichel" name of the team's budding superstar. He's out for a substantial chunk of the season.

"We're all cursed, but, hey, we just persevere. It's all you can do," said one fan who identified himself as Doug from Lockport.

"We were a little shocked to see Jack go down during practice yesterday," said Todd from Warsaw who was sporting an Eichel jersey. "Hopefully, they can represent with him being down for about a month or so and looking at O'Reilly to take over the lead."

Anthony Scibetta was there in another of the ubiquitous Eichel jerseys.

"I'm a huge Eichel fan. I'm pretty mad about this Eichel injury, but I'm still here. I'm a huge Sabres fan. I mean I'm not going to miss this for the world. I'm here. Even if I've got to be on crutches, I'm not going to miss this home opener," Scibetta said.

The crowd varied in age, some rushing into the doors of the newly-renamed arena, while others listened to the music or stopped for a beer at the stands on the plaza. TJ from Williamsville says this is the time of year to be optimistic.

"You have to be. Going in, it's Opening Day. Everybody is. We all got the same shot right now, although some of those teams looked good yesterday. Toronto? Oh boy," he said, referring to the Sabres' north-of-the-border rival.

However, the game brought more bad news beyond the final score. Forward Evander Kane was helped off the ice late in the second period following a violent crash into the boards. He was taken to the hospital for evaluation of what appeared to be a serious injury.


Mike Desmond is one of Western New York’s most experienced reporters, having spent nearly a half-century covering the region for newspapers, television stations and public radio. He has been with WBFO and its predecessor, WNED-AM, since 1988. As a reporter for WBFO, he has covered literally thousands of stories involving education, science, business, the environment and many other issues. Mike has been a long-time theater reviewer for a variety of publications and was formerly a part-time reporter for The New York Times.