Rochester (LGS) — After playing in the Buffalo Sabres, Rochester Americans Alumni game on Sunday afternoon at the Blue Cross Arena in Rochester, former Amerk, Sabre and Ottawa Senator Rob Ray sat down with LGS for an exclusive interview.
LetsGoSabres.com – Rob, what is it about this year's Sabres team that makes them so good?
Rob Ray – They are relentless. They never give up, and they work hard as a team. They have great goaltending. They’ve shown the last two games against Toronto that if they don’t work hard, they’re just an average hockey team.
LGS – Do the Sabres' recent struggles concern you as the playoffs approach?
RR – Well, I think part of it is that if they (the Sabres) play .500 hockey they’ll finish first in their conference. They really don’t have a lot to play for in a sense. They really are just fine-tuning their game, and that’s a good idea. They don’t have to kill themselves and lose sight of the big picture. I remember when I was on Ottawa; we fought and fought and fought down the stretch to win the Presidents Trophy. When we finally got it, we were out of gas and had an early exit out of the playoffs. From Buffalo’s stand point the only thing that matters is making it to the (Stanley Cup) finals.
LGS – What memories do you have from the time you spent in Rochester?
RR – It’s where I got my start, really. I met some guys that I’ve stayed friends with. Guys like Scottie Metcalf. There were also guys like Donald Audette and Ken Sutton that we all got to Buffalo about the same time and stayed friends with.
LGS – What are your thoughts on the guys from Rochester who have gone to Buffalo and contributed for the Sabres?
RR – They’ve been so good. I think it’s safe to say that Drew Stafford will never be back to Rochester again. Clarke MacArthur has been doing a good job; he’s trying to earn a spot for next year (in Buffalo). What can’t you say about Michael Ryan? He’s been creating so many scoring chances for guys like Chris Drury. Once he gets his hands and finishes the chances he’ll be a great player.
LGS – You were known for the work you did in the community and with charities. How did you get so involved with that?
RR – You know I was accepted in Buffalo from my very first game. The people of Buffalo were so good to me; it was just my way of giving back. Once I was there (Buffalo) for a while, I got to doing it frequently and it was something that I wanted to do.
LGS – There has been some great hockey being played around the NHL this year, what teams, besides Buffalo, have a chance to make a deep run in the playoffs?
RR – I really like Vancouver, they’ve been playing great. (Roberto) Luongo has been out of his mind. There are teams like San Jose and Anaheim that are really good, too. I also like Minnesota. I think they can make a run at it. They’ve got a good system and they skate hard.
LGS – Who do you think is the best player in the NHL right now?
RR – Sidney Crosby.
LGS – What was your most memorable game in the NHL?
RR – I’d have to say my first game. I had a goal and an assist, and I finished as a plus 3. It was, statistically, the best game I ever had in the NHL. There were other games that stand out. The finals run in ’99 was a great experience. Game 1 of the finals was the same day as my birthday.
LGS – What do you remember about the “May Day” game?
RR – Just how big it was for the organization. It seemed at that time there was a hex on the team. We’d do good in the regular season, and then be out in the first round. When Brad scored that goal it all went out the window. Cars were beeping their horns up and down the streets; it was almost like we won the Stanley Cup. It was a huge goal for Brad; it made him a millionaire (laughs)! It was just a big goal for the team, and for the city of Buffalo.
LGS – You were a scrapper when you played, and had some tough fights. Are there any that stand out in particular to others?
RR – Well, I fought (Tie) Domi something like 23 times, so there were some goods ones in there. I fought Dave Brown in Philly in the mid 90s. In a way I feared him, but we went at it and I got him a few times and won the fight. That was a big step for me.
LGS – Who was the toughest guy you ever fought?
RR – Domi was tough. You know, it was guys like Brown, Joey Kocur, and Bob Probert that were the toughest. Those guys were just mean and nasty. You get in a fight with those guys and you never know what would happen, they were so mean and nasty.
LGS – Obviously, you’re doing work with MSG now. What else are you up to these days?
RR – I’ve got myself tied up in a couple of things. I have an automotive repair service shop in Florida called Rayzor Auto Repair. Then Matthew Barnaby and I started a construction company in Buffalo, so it keeps me busy.
LGS – Rob, I know you’re a busy man. I really appreciate your time!
RR – No problem, my pleasure!