The extreme snowstorm that has crippled the Buffalo region forced the NHL on Thursday to postpone Friday night's game between the Rangers and Sabres. It had not been rescheduled as of Thursday night.
"Due to the continuing weather-related difficulties in the Greater Buffalo area and out of respect for the fans of the Sabres, Friday's game between the New York Rangers and Buffalo Sabres at First Niagara Center has been postponed," the NHL said.
The last Rangers game postponed because of weather was on Jan. 10, 1998, against the Canadiens in Montreal. It was played March 12, and the Rangers lost, 4-1.
The Rangers received word after practice at the Madison Square Garden Training Center in Greenburgh. The team flight had been scheduled to depart at 3 p.m., but players, coaches and staff were held at the rink until the league's decision.
The Rangers will not practice until Saturday, when they will prepare to host the Canadiens on Sunday.
"You can't be frustrated," coach Alain Vigneault said during the wait. "There's nothing they can do. Everybody's concerned, from the Buffalo team to the governor. You're dealing with seven feet of snow. Can we get in there? Can people come to the game? Is it safe?"
Some areas, notably south of Buffalo, were under 6 feet of snow and more was falling Thursday. Downtown had less accumulation, but a lake-effect snow warning was in effect into Friday.
"It's pretty extreme for so early in the season," said Rangers forward Lee Stempniak, a native of West Seneca, New York, a Buffalo suburb.
The lives of his parents, who reside there, have been disrupted, he said. His father had plowed a path with a snowblower, but otherwise "he hasn't left the house," Stempniak said. He said his mother, who had been stranded at work downtown for a short time, is staying with his brother.
Vigneault recalled a similar situation when he was coaching juniors in Prince Edward Island, Canada.
"In Buffalo, it's the lake; in PEI, it's the ocean -- a storm came in and there was snow above the garage, seven or eight feet," Vigneault said. "Everything was canceled for three or four days.
"It is what it is; you just pop open an extra bottle of wine . . . not that big of a deal. You keep warm by the fire."