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September 12, 2013

Sabres hire Forton, re-sign Hodgson

Tonawanda News — BUFFALO — The Buffalo Sabres made two key personnel moves Wednesday, the day before the start of the National Hockey League club’s training camp.

One of them brings a former Purple Eagles assistant hockey coach back to Western New York. 

Jerry Forton, a former assistant under Niagara coach Dave Burkholder, was named an assistant coach Wednesday morning. Forton will serve under Ron Rolston, who was hired to replace Lindy Ruff midway through last season.

Forton served for 13 seasons with Niagara, during which he helped transform the fledgling varsity program into one that appeared in the NCAA Division I Tournament three times. 

His former boss expressed his excitement at Forton’s new job.

“We were very fortunate to have Jerry for as long as we did here at Niagara hockey,” Dave Burkholder said in a statement released by Niagara’s athletics department. “A tireless worker and outstanding recruiter he left his mark on our program to say the least. From volunteer to associate head coach he was a valued and integral part of the program.”

After leaving Niagara, Forton spent two seasons as an assistant coach at UMass-Lowell and more recently served two seasons as an assistant for Harvard University.

Hours after the Sabres announced their coaching personnel news, they took care of business with one of their on-ice personnel, re-signing center Cody Hodgson to a six-year contract.

The Sabres announced the signing after players reported for physicals. Hodgson was already in Buffalo and is expected to be present for the team’s first practice today.

He is a four-year NHL player who was a restricted free agent after the Sabres retained his rights by offering him a qualifying tender in June.

Hodgson centered Buffalo’s top line last season and finished second on the team with 15 goals and 34 points in 48 games.

The Sabres acquired Hodgson in a trade with Vancouver in February 2012. Overall, he has 35 goals and 77 points in 139 career games.

Terms of his contract were not disclosed by the team but the website reported the deal was believed to be for $4.25 million per year over six years.

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