When Jason Pominville was traded to the Wild on April 3, the Buffalo Sabres had the day off. So Pominville, after spending parts of nine seasons with one franchise, never got a chance to say goodbye to his teammates, the staff, arena workers and, most importantly, the fans.
That’s why he’s excited to fly to Buffalo for his first-ever game against the Sabres on Monday.
“The only two people I got to say bye to were [Thomas] Vanek, because he was my neighbor and drove me to the airport, and our trainer, Dave Williams, who brought me my equipment,” Pominville said. “So it’ll be nice to go back, but it’ll be weird to go in the same door but a different locker room.
“I’ll see the ice from a different angle, I guess. It’ll be fun. Everything happens so fast and I just would really like to see the staff and play in front of those fans again.”
Pominville, 30, a second-round pick in 2001, ranks sixth in Sabres history with 10 shorthanded goals, ninth with 271 assists and 1,606 shots, tied for 11th with 456 points, 12th with 185 goals, 17th with 42 power-play goal and tied for 19th with 578 games.
“We named him captain. I really felt [he was] our best all-around player,” said first-year Dallas Stars coach Lindy Ruff, who coached against Pominville for the first time in Saturday’s Wild-Stars game.
“He’s a guy that did all the right things, got to the right places, the type of player that played through anything, any situation,” Ruff said. “On top of that, he’s an even better person.
“Those players are hard to come by. You never have to challenge him to work. He’s an ultimate pro and he’s going to be consistent from year to year, which is really all you can ask.”
Pominville’s memories in Buffalo are vast, especially playing 34 of his 45 playoff games there in 2006 and 2007.
“We’d have 18,000 in the building and another 15,000 outside the arena watching on a big screen,” Pominville said. “The fan support was awesome. We were pretty fortunate. They love their hockey, they’re all about their team. We had some good years, we had some tougher years, but they always supported us.”
BU linemate a Coyle fan
Stars forward Alex Chiasson, who has nine goals in his first 11 NHL games heading into Saturday’s meeting with Minnesota, caught up with injured Wild center Charlie Coyle on Saturday morning.
Coyle, Chiasson’s linemate at Boston University, was shooting pucks off the ice wearing a left knee brace.
“He’s such a great kid,” Chiasson, 23, said of the 21-year-old Coyle. “He’s going to be great for the Wild. He’s really strong physically for his age. His demeanor and the way he’s driven to play in the NHL is huge. He’s always in the gym and always trying to get better.”
• Goalie Darcy Kuemper backed up Josh Harding against the Stars and is expected to start Iowa’s game against Oklahoma City on Sunday. He then is expected to join the Wild in Buffalo on Monday because it’s unclear yet whether Niklas Backstrom (knee) will be ready to return. Backstrom took part in Saturday’s morning skate after practicing Friday but didn’t look to be pushing off much on his injured right knee. … Monday, the Wild opens a four-game trip to Buffalo, Toronto, Tampa Bay and Florida. There was no cross-conference play last season, but two years ago, the Wild was 5-9-4 against the East. The West is 22-5-3 against the East this season. Coach Mike Yeo said the Wild went into those games two years ago almost “feeling our way into it” because there was no hatred or knowledge of the opponent. He says that must change this season.