Buffalo Sabres Head Coach Lindy Ruff informed his team today in Helsinki, Finland that a quintet of former Amerks have been chosen to lead the team as captains. Jason Pominville was officially named captain on Thursday, while it was announced that Paul Gaustad, Derek Roy, Thomas Vanek, and Drew Stafford will serve as the alternate captains.
“This whole group of guys has grown up together and we have to push each other to higher levels,” Ruff said when addressing the team at a group dinner on the eve of the 2011-12 season opener.
The 28 year-old Pominville spent just over three years in an Amerks uniform before joining the Sabres permanently during the 2005-2006 season. Selected by Buffalo in the second round (55th overall) of the 2001 NHL Entry Draft, he amassed 192 points (96+96) in 235 games with Rochester.
“It’s an honor to represent the team and the guys both on and off the ice,” said Pominville following the announcement. “I think this year is going to be a great year, and for us to make it happen, we are going to need to hold each other accountable and push each other to get better every day.”
“This guy epitomizes a lot of what we are,” Ruff said in reference to Pominville. “He has fought through a lot of adversity, has been in our system for a long time, and grew up playing in Rochester.”
Gaustad also suited up in an Amerks uniform for three seasons and eventually earned a promotion to Buffalo in 2005-2006. Drafted by Buffalo in the seventh round (220th overall) of the 2000 NHL Entry Draft, the rugged centerman took the ice for 234 games with the Amerks and tallied 127 points (41+86) to go along with 498 penalty minutes.
Roy skated in Rochester for a total of 101 games before joining Buffalo full-time in 2005-2006 as well. The 28 year-old was selected by the Sabres in the second round (32nd overall) of the 2001 NHL Entry Draft. During his stint with the Amerks, Roy produced at just over a point-per-game pace with 107 (33+74) points.
Vanek and Stafford, the two youngest members of the appointed leadership group, each spent just one season in Rochester before joining the NHL ranks. Vanek, 27, was selected by Buffalo in the first round (5th overall) of the 2003 NHL Entry Draft and contributed 68 points (42+26) in 74 games as an Amerk during the 2004-05 campaign. The 25 year-old Stafford, meanwhile, is also a first round draft pick (13th overall in 2004) of the Sabres. Lacing up the skates in just 34 games with Rochester, the 6’2” winger chipped in 44 points (22+22).
The Sabres are set to begin their season on Friday afternoon, when they take on the Anaheim Ducks in Helsinki, Finland as part of the NHL Premiere Series. Puck drop is slated for 1:00 p.m. E.T.