Ott prepares for new challenge with Sabres

Steve Ott (right) was traded to the Sabres earlier this month. (MIKE STURK/Reuters file photo)

Steve Ott (right) was traded to the Sabres earlier this month. (MIKE STURK/Reuters file photo)

MARC GIRARD, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:21 PM ET

WINDSOR, ONT. - It’s all about new beginnings for Steve Ott.

The former Windsor Spitfires forward was recently traded to the Buffalo Sabres from the Dallas Stars in a three-player deal July 2. The Stoney Point native was sent to the Sabres, along with teammates Adam Pardy, for forward Derek Roy.

“Obviously, there was some mixed emotions,” Ott said. “I’ve been in Dallas since 2000. It was hard for me because I had made a home in Dallas. I’d spent 12 years there and, overnight, it’s gone. When I look back, I spent almost half of my life there and I’m very thankful for the opportunity the community gave me. It was always a first class place to be.”

Ott moved from Dallas, a big market that competes with three other professional sports team, in the Dallas Mavericks of the NBA, Dallas Cowboys of the NFL and the Texas Rangers of the MLB, to Buffalo, which is a small market with only an NFL team to compete with. Despite having market competition, the fan base is a ravenous group that is looking for the team to rebound from a disappointing season that saw their Sabres miss the post season by three points.

“I’m really looking forward to the atmosphere,” said Ott. “Being in a division with the Ottawa Senators, Toronto Maple Leafs, Montreal Canadiens and Boston Bruins is going to be cool. All the teams have really strong following and to be consistently playing in front of sold out crowds will be different.”

Ott’s first game against the Stars will be March 23, when the Sabres visit Dallas at the American Airlines Arena.

“That’s going to be a tough game,” said Ott. “I have lots of friends and people I respect there. To say it won’t be an emotional night would be an understatement. I put a lot of effort into that team and earned the respect of a lot of people there. It’ll be tough night but a fun atmosphere.”

In his career, Ott has established himself as an irritating person to play against who also has some offensive punch. In 566 career games, Ott has 85 goals and 135 assists to go along with 1170 penalty minutes. Ott now heads to the Eastern Conference, where he will play teams he used to only see once a year.

“The adjustment (from east to west) will be phenomenal,” said Ott, who had 233 points in 174, games with the Spitfires from 1999-2002. “In the west, there’s a lot of travel. Playing in Dallas, you travel about 49,000 miles a year. Now being in Buffalo, I’ll probably cut that in half. In the east, I’ll also get to play some new teams. I’m sure the team in the west got tired of my antics anyway, so it’ll be nice to get a fresh start and to be able to build a new reputation is cool.”

With playing in Dallas, which is roughly 1,200 miles from Windsor, he had a hard time seeing family on a regular basis. Ott said his sister would come down once a year, while his parents would visit two to three times a year. In contrast, Buffalo is roughly 250 miles away.

“I like have my friends and family close to me,” said Ott. “They’re a big part of who I am and you sometimes take for granted that support when you go away. It’ll be nice to see my parents and sister on a regular basis. It’s definitely something that excites me.”

The Sabres open their season with a game at home against the Pittsburgh Penguins October 13.

marc.girard@sunmedia.ca


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