His coaches and teammates have taken notice.
Ellis can be considered somewhat of a journeyman in the NHL, but has found a home with the Buffalo Sabres organization, whether it's in Buffalo or with their AHL affiliate Rochester Americans. Ellis was called up to play his first game in the NHL this season last night, and played hard as usual, getting rewarded with a goal.
"He's put his hard work and his dues in, he's gone down to Rochester and been their leader down there and something that's been great for our organization," Sabres captain Steve Ott said. "I know how hard he works, offseason-wise and throughout the season, and for him to get rewarded was awesome to see and I know these guys in here are really excited for him."
Ellis has always been known as one of the hardest-working guys on the team, as many point out he may need to be to make up for his lack of skill. But it's the hard work that has drawn head coach Ted Nolan to Ellis, who appreciates a player who gives his all every shift.
"Yeah, that so-called fourth line. They're one of four for us," Nolan said of Ellis and his teammates. "One thing we want to do is try to create a balanced attack and (Tuesday) with (Brian) Flynn, Ellis and (Kevin) Porter, they did a great job for us. The vast majority of guys can get to the line and shoot it in and go get it. That takes a certain will on your part and all three of those guys on that line, they have the will to do it and they did a great job."
Ellis may not be contending for Buffalo's scoring lead anytime soon, although that title is up for grabs with how poor they've been offensively this season, but his desire to win battles and work hard may keep him on the team to play a role. A role that was played by fellow No. 37 in Nolan's previous tenure in Buffalo, Curtis Brown. Like Ellis, Brown wasn't a flashy goal scorer, but he worked hard every night and played his game. Ellis can be that player for Nolan during this second stint, and it just might work out for both player and coach.
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