The Buffalo Sabres have strived to build a family atmosphere within the organization. Ownership and management have bonded with players under Terry Pegula's stewardship, with the parties joining as one at events, dinners and public gatherings the past 18 months. The communal feeling will continue today and Friday as Sabres players and brass head to Southern Ontario for a goodwill tour.

Soon, though, the sides may be forced to ignore each other.

The NHL and NHL Players' Association are worlds apart on a new collective bargaining agreement, and a lockout looms with the expiration of the current deal Sept. 15. The owners have vowed to shut down the league, and the work stoppage would not only close the Zamboni doors, it would bar teams from any communication with their players.

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