Ott said Weber, who began living with his parents as a 15-year-old Ontario Hockey League rookie, spoke highly about Buffalo “every single workout the last few years.” Ott’s mother, Debby, even went on a road trip with Weber last season.
“We always joked about one day playing together,” said Ott, who drove to Buffalo with Weber.
Now it’s happening. The Sabres sorely needed a player of Ott’s ilk – a physical and versatile pest – to counter tough Eastern Conferences foes like Boston and Philadelphia.
“We want to be a harder team to play against,” Sabres coach Lindy Ruff said. “He brings a great work ethic to the game, plays with a certain amount of intensity; he walks the line every night. He’s an agitating guy, irritating guy to play against.”
Ott can play left wing or center, although he mainly plays on the side. His position next season will be determined later, Ruff said. He’s one of the NHL’s top faceoff men, ranking 14th (55.5 percent) last year. He has 85 goals and 1,170 penalty minutes in 566 games.
He believes his game will endear himself to his new community. When he played with tough guy Aaron Downey in Dallas, the two called themselves the “Blue Collar Brothers.”
“That’s my style,” Ott said.
With Ott, enforcer John Scott and 2011-12 rookies Marcus Foligno and Corey Tropp in the fold, Ruff’s confident in the team’s overall toughness, a weakness in past years.
“If you don’t have a team toughness where everybody’s all in, your team’s going to lag behind,” Ruff said. “I think with our additions and what Marcus brought and Corey Tropp brought and what (Patrick) Kaleta, Cody McCormick bring, we’ve got some guys that can make us a harder team to play against.”