Buffalo Sabres, All-Star Recaps, World Cup

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Good morning, Buffalo Sabres fans! The NHL All-Star Break is now officially over; players will return to their respective teams today, with the first slate of games on the schedule for tomorrow evening. The Buffalo Sabres will reportedly take the ice for practice in Buffalo this afternoon before flying to Calgary prior to the team’s game tomorrow evening.

Looking back at this weekend, the NHL All-Star Weekend was exactly what it was intended to be: fun. Above all else, it’s a chance to bring together players from around the league, including some of the biggest names in the NHL, for one weekend. It’s a chance to reunite old teammates and also create new friendships around the league, and overall, it’s a weekend to have some fun.

In the end, that’s exactly what it was. [CBS Sports]

From creative moves in the skills competition to an entertaining fantasy draft; from the highest-scoring All-Star Game in NHL history, to selfies on the ice, to heart-warming moments off the ice…. it was a fun one.

Overall, the NHL All-Star weekend in Columbus has been deemed an overwhelming success.

As this piece from ESPN says, part of bringing the game to a city is keeping the league connected with its fans – particularly those of a team that is outside the playoffs right now – and create a festive atmosphere that allows fans AND players to enjoy themselves for a pressure-free, fun-filled weekend.

There were also some incredibly heart-warming moments during this All-Star weekend. Take Alex Ovechkin‘s curious plea for the car given to the person selected last in the draft — a joke that we later found out had nothing but good intentions behind it. Ovechkin’s plan all along was to donate the car to the Washington Ice Dogs, a local hockey team for children with special needs. Honda eventually found this out and donated the car anyways. [USA Today]

Or how about Los Angeles Kings head coach Darryl Sutter bringing his son behind the bench to help coach Team Foligno? [USA Today]

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Meanwhile, the American Hockey League is in the midst of its All Star festivities.

The AHL held its Skills Competition on Sunday night in Utica.

Rochester Americans forward Philip Varone, who was up with the Buffalo Sabres until the NHL All-Star break began, competed in several events on Sunday.

He faced Aaron Ness in the Sher-Wood Puck Control Relay and barely missed the win. Varone also participated in the Turning Stone Resort Casino Pass and Score, part of a trio that included Utica Comets forward Cal O’Reilly and defenseman Bobby Sanguinetti. His final event was the Panasonic Breakaway Relay.

In the end, the Eastern Conference came out on top, 15-11. You can see the full breakdown for the Skills Competition here.

The AHL All-Star Game is scheduled for Monday night at 7 p.m. It will be televised on Time Warner Cable Sportsnet.

Finally, the NHL announced its plans for a World Cup of Hockey, to be held in Toronto in 2016. [USA Today]

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said he hopes to host the event regularly after the 2016 event.

This has big implications on the city of Buffalo, as the 716 could be potentially considered for some pre-tournament games. This wouldn’t be the first time that the city of Buffalo has been on an international stage, and it certainly wouldn’t be the last. We should find out more as the event grows closer.

Next: Best Moments of the Buffalo Sabres Season