BUFFALO — Last month, Steve Ott and Mike Weber heard a rumor Ott could be joining his close friend with the Sabres. The two laughed, and then resumed working out together at the gym.
The mere thought of Ott coming to Buffalo resonated, however. The gritty forward was cognizant the Dallas Stars might be looking to deal him.
“Could you imagine?” the friends asked each other.
On July 2, about two weeks later, Ott missed a call from Dallas general manager Joe Nieuwendyk at his summer home near Windsor, Ont. He saw a text from Nieuwendyk minutes later.
“I looked at my girlfriend and said, ‘We’ve been traded,’” Ott said Thursday inside the First Niagara Center during his introductory news conference. “I knew right away. I obviously had that feeling.”
Right away, an out-of-breath Ott called Weber, someone so close he calls him a “brother.”
Ott couldn’t get the words out.
“I was like, ‘Uhh,’” Ott recalled. “He was like, ‘Is it breaking up?’ I was like, ‘No, hold on one sec. Let me pull it together. We’re going to be playing together as a Sabre.’ It was pretty exciting.”
On Thursday, Ott, acquired with defenseman Adam Pardy for center Derek Roy, still couldn’t hide his excitement. Being in Buffalo, something he calls a “new adventure,” is special.
“It’s been even more exciting,” Ott said about seeing his new city and team. “I don’t even want to leave. I came in a couple days ago. The city, the people are very excited about this team. I got to meet some of my new teammates. … Obviously, now it feels like home already.”
During the 29-year-old’s first dinner in town, he was brought a dessert with “Welcome to Buffalo” written on it.
“Just a great area and great community,” he said.