NHL Combine to bring top prospects, tourists to Buffalo

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – Before the HARBORcenter is even completed, it’s attracting major events to the Queen City.

On Monday, Buffalo Sabres President Ted Black announced that for the next two years, the best young hockey players will be in downtown Buffalo for the NHL pre-draft scouting combine.

Black said, “Buffalo and the Pegulas were made for each other.”

WATCH | You can watch the full press conference by playing the included video

The players, their families, coaches, scouts and fans will descend on Western New York in 2015 and 2016, giving the economy a boost. But Black said, “125 players, average six to 12 NHL representatives. I think it could be measured more in prestige than in the actual economic impact.”

The combine is a chance for the NHL reps to watch prospects undergo physical and mental tests. Teams conduct individual interviews with prospects before they undergo various fitness and skill tests to hopefully improve their value in the draft.

Since 1999, the combine had been held in suburban Toronto.

“The city is cementing itself as a global presence in the hockey world. We want every NHL player to have trained and played in Western New York,” Black said.

First Niagara Center and HARBORcenter offers an “all-in-one” package, with additional off-ice training space, restaurant and hotel housed in HARBORcenter.

Black said, “We sire here today knowing that this is a place where events like the NHL Combine should be. It is a no brainer. Hosting the combine in a one-of-a-kind, three-rink facility will allow the league the maximum opportunity to grow this property as it sees fit. The league, the prospects, will all benefit from the combine being located in a vibrant downtown location.”

Kaleida Health President and CEO Jody Lomeo said the combine coming to Buffalo is moving the city forward.

“This is what we as Buffalonians have waited for. Today further validates we are living the renaissance,” he said.

Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown said the world-class event will show people the $4.4 billion in development happening in the city. He said the event will “provide the opportunity to showoff and showcase the transformation that’s taken place in Buffalo.”

Sabres owner Terry Pegula said 16 months ago that he wanted to expand the organization’s influence on the ice and to bring hockey professionals and fans to HARBORcenter.

HARBORcenter has already pulled in multiple USA Hockey commitments over the next couple years, earning the chance to host the annual All-American Prospects game, along with the Under 18 Women’s World Championship, and the Sledge Hockey World Championship next year.

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