BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — Showing compassion for a fellow Buffalo athlete, the Sabres made a pregame fashion statement Tuesday.

Buffalo’s hockey players wore t-shirts displaying “LOVE FOR 3” in red and blue lettering to support hospitalized football player Damar Hamlin in arriving at Capital One Arena in Washington. Solemn expressions indicated the Sabres’ thoughts were back home in concluding a three-game road trip.

The 24-year-old Hamlin remained in critical condition a day after the Bills said his heart stopped while making a tackle in the opening quarter of a game against the Bengals. Medical staff restored his heartbeat during frantic moments on the field before he was loaded into an ambulance, with teary-eyed players and coaches on both teams having difficulty hiding their emotions.

“What happened last night is something that makes the game itself and any sport secondary, so it was a tough day for all of us,” general manager Kevyn Adams said following the Sabres’ overtime victory. “There’s an emotional connection to the city from our team. It was tough, to be honest, this morning, the conversations. But (players) also, I think, know how much our team means to this city and just wanted to be able to go out and do what we could today to put our best foot forward.”

Adams said the idea to wear matching shirts honoring Hamlin came from a conversation among captain Kyle Okposo and others, with players and coaches not speaking to reporters Tuesday because they were still processing the situation.

“I think what comes through from our players is how much they care about the people in Buffalo,” Adams said. “And I think they also feel that there’s a lot of people that are thinking about a lot more important things than a hockey game, but let’s try to go out there and do our best.”

Buffalo’s begins a four-game homestand Saturday against Minnesota. The most recent Sabres game at KeyBank Center on Dec. 29 was an emotionally-charged sellout in the aftermath of a devastating blizzard that killed more than 40 people in Western New York.

University at Buffalo’s basketball team also recognized Hamlin before its home game Tuesday night, asking fans to raise three fingers during a moment of silence before tip-off.

Buffalo’s City Hall and other landmarks, along with both the American and Canadian sides of Niagara Falls, were illuminated Tuesday night to support Hamlin. Prayer vigil’s were held outside the Bills’ stadium in Orchard Park, and UC Medical Center in Cincinnati.

The chilling scene, which played out in front of a North American television audience on ESPN’s “Monday Night Football,” has put the NFL on hold, with the game suspended. That sparked an outpouring of support in placing Hamlin’s life ahead of sports, and pushed to the forefront the generous person he is.

Players and fans from across the NFL rallied to Hamlin’s support. The shock of what happened also reverberated in Pittsburgh, where Hamlin grew up and was determined to give back to those in need.

“Damar is a hero to thousands of Pittsburgh kids,” Pitt football coach Pat Narduzzi said in a statement. “Damar, we love you. We are praying for you. Pittsburgh’s always had your back. And now it’s obvious the entire country has your back, too.”

The Hamlin family expressed gratitude for the outpouring of support shown toward the Buffalo Bills safety who suffered cardiac arrest after making a tackle while asking everyone to keep the hospitalized player in their prayers on Tuesday.

“We are deeply moved by the prayers, kind words and donations from fans around the country,” Hamlin’s family wrote in a message posted on the Twitter account of the player’s marketing representative, Jordon Rooney. “Your generosity and compassion has meant the world to us.”

The family also thanked the first responders, medical staff at UC Medical Center, the Bills and Cincinnati Bengals for their support.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


Jonah Bronstein joined the News 4 roster in 2022 as a digital sports reporter. Read more of his work here.