Buffalo leaves impression on Mitchell; Karabacek in CZE camp

Imagine yourself as a young man from Western Canada getting ready to enter college in Alaska, but first you get to travel east to Buffalo for the Sabres' 2015 Development Camp, along the way playing a scrimmage in front of over 17,000 fans on a summer Friday evening. That's what 21-year-old power forward Mason Mitchell was able to do in July.

Mitchell, who was a free agent invite after posting 19 goals, 34 points and 217 PIM in 39 games for the AJHL's Calgary Mustangs a season ago, will take his hard-driving game to the University of Alaska-Anchorage in the fall. While the 6-foot-3, 205-pounder left an impression with some solid shifts in the Blue/Gold game, it was the noteworthy impression that Buffalo left on him and his family that moved a grateful father to send me this note:

From Mason's father, Terry:

“While I was attending the Sabres development camp with my son (Mason Mitchell) one of the most evident parts of being in Buffalo were that all of the people we made contact with in Buffalo were polite, helpful, friendly and just made this trip an extremely  positive experience to remember.

 I travel extensively in my job and certainly see the differences, however, I cannot say how much we were impressed by everyone we met in Buffalo especially that work in the local industry and for that matter just everyone were wonderful ambassadors for your fine city.

We live in Calgary Alberta Canada ……and I can assure you all that we come in contact with will understand………… Buffalo is a great place to visit and from what I can gather from local discussions…… an even better place to live. “

I've gotten emails from fathers of players in the past. Some have been appreciative of the coverage and referred to my opinions as fair. Others have been a little more insulting (even though I make it a point of my model to not overly-hammer on those enduring the developmental phase). This type of message was a first, and it was important to share in this space because it's about you, not me.

The entire city of Buffalo, not just its professional sports teams, have been obnoxiously beaten on by smug out-of-towners so many times that it's become a laughable cliche. You can change the way a place looks with new buildings, parks, etc., but the people make the experience.

It's nice to have someone show a little appreciation from the outside, isn't it?


With summer in full swing, we have one other prospect-related news item to report.

With Jack Eichel not taking part in the U.S. National Junior Evaluation Camp, the Sabres will have just one prospect participating in world junior evaluations. Baie-Comeau Drakkar winger Vaclav Karabacek has been selected to skate for the Czech Republic as part of Canada's National Junior Team Summer Development Camp in the first week of August.

Just as Finland and Sweden make the annual trek to Lake Placid for the NJEC, the Czechs and Russians will make the trip to Calgary to play games against the Canadians. Karabacek was on track to make the final CZE for the 2015 World Junior Championship, only to join the final cuts in December after over-sleeping for a video session. He is a favorite to play in the 2016 event, which begins December 26 in Helsinki.

Karabacek is expected to dress when the Czechs take on Canada in camp scrimmages August 4 and 6. Other Czech notables in camp include Pavel Zacha (NJD), Jakub Zboril (BOS), Filip Chlapik (OTT), Michal Spacek (WPG) and Vitek Vanecek (WAS).

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