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Monday, October 13, 2014

From left, Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown, Sabres President Ted Black, and
NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman announce the 2016 NHL Draft will be in
Buffalo. The commissioner said the draft being held in Buffalo will help the
development of local hockey. (HEATHER N. GRIMMER / ENP
BUFFALO — NHL Commission Gary Bettman said this afternoon that the 2016 NHL Draft being in Buffalo is good for local hockey development.

The commissioner, during the question and answer session of a press conference at First Niagara Center announcing the decision to hold the draft in Buffalo, said things such as the NHL Draft help to inspire young hockey fans to become players and encourage young players to pursue hockey further.

Sabres President Ted Black added that the 2015 and 2016 NHL Combines being in Buffalo will only further add to that. Black noted that the 2016 NHL Draft will come on the heels of the 2016 Combine and will create a month-long state of hockey in the Buffalo area.

Bettman said the local and national exposure the draft will receive will help to increase interest in the sport, building stronger high school, U18, Junior A and other hockey clubs.

Frank Vecchio, coach and general manager of Lockport's Junior A hockey team, the Lockport Express, said the team is fortunate to be in a stable hockey community like Western New York.

"It is very important for us to be here," Vecchio said. "We feel as though WNY is a hockey hotbed and only going to continue to grow."

We continue to maintain that there are a lot of very good players that leave the area to play junior hockey elsewhere, for a variety of reasons," Vecchio said. 

The Express played a game Oct. 4 at Niagara University against the Jersey Shore Wildcats, featuring the return of two WNY hockey players who were lured to New Jersey to play. 

"We are working hard to give them a reason to stay and play right here, in an area where hockey is very popular and continuing to gain momentum," Vecchio said. "We will be part of the growth."

To hear Bettman and Black talk, the NHL and the Sabres both plan to be part of the growth as well. 

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