BUFFALO (wgrz.com) - Sabres coach Lindy Ruff admits the Sabres focus Friday night will entirely be on beating the San Jose Sharks, one of the top teams in the NHL.
"You know first and foremost it's an incredibly sad day for our city... and we've talked about it that this is going to reach and touch a lot of people... you've gotta get through it... it's an area where many of us live... first and foremost it's all about the people we lost and the faimilies that were touched... and all our feelings go out toward them first."
He's talking about the crash Continental flight 3407 Thursday night - a crash that killed 50.
"This is bigger than sports... it's a lot bigger... this is on the back burner right now... and I know we have to play a game but... something this big touches way too many people."
That includes many of the Sabre players who live in Clarence. Veteran defenseman Teppo Numminen lives very close to the point of impact and heard the plane crash.
"I heard the plane coming... I was in my bed... I heard the plane coming and I thought it sounded really wierd... it sounded really close to us and I heard a little poof... afterwards and I was thinking like... it doesn't sound good... it doesn't sound right... so I looked out of my window and saw the red sky and I knew something was wrong."
Defenseman Jaro Spacek's house is just a few hundred yards from the crash site.
"You imagine how big is the country and something happens less than 800-yards from your home... it's something like everything stops... it's nothing about the hockey... it's about the life... and the people."
Captain Craig Rivet, new to the Sabres this season, also resides in Clarence and says sports can play a helpful role in times of crisis.
"It's something that you never really think is going to happen to you or in your community...it's something that if we can come here tonight and just put in the work... give our best... get that win... hopefully it's going to take a little bit of thought or discomfort away from the people that were involved... or I'm sure it's going to affect a lot of people so if we can come here and put in the effort... get that win... or if we can do anything to help we're certainly going to try."
The Sabres say a moment of silence will be held im memory of the victims prior to Friday night's game.