On with the summer

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Briere

Joe Cecconi couldn't hide his excitement Saturday. ©2015, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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SUNRISE, Fla. – Youngstown native Joe Cecconi said he started getting “a little bit scared” as the NHL Draft wore on Saturday. The defense prospect still hadn’t been picked almost halfway through the fifth round.

“I was like something might not happen, I might not get chosen,” a smiling Cecconi said after the Dallas Stars selected him 133rd overall inside the BB&T Center. “But seeing Dallas was up and they called my name, the dream has started.”

Cecconi, who spent last season …

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Daniel Briere once starred for the Sabres. ©2014, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
1

BUFFALO – Former Sabres star Daniel Briere knows the end is coming soon. At 37 years old, he’s now a graying forward with the Colorado Avalanche. His new club scratched him seven straight games earlier this season. He skates less than 10 minutes some nights.

But the likable Briere won’t speculate about how long his once-dynamic career will last. Instead, he’s trying to treasure his remaining days in the NHL.

“I’m trying to enjoy what’s going on now,” Briere said Saturday inside …

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Daniel Briere likes Sabres coach Ted Nolan. ©2014, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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BUFFALO – Colorado Avalanche forward Daniel Briere still pays attention to the Sabres, the team he once co-captained, from afar.

Gone, of course, are the rollicking days Briere enjoyed here. The Sabres haven’t sniffed the success they had with the diminutive scorer since they let him leave in 2007.

But the rebuilding club impresses the 37-year-old, who likes coach Ted Nolan and the stockpile of young talent.

“I think this is a team that’s going to be dangerous in a few years,” Briere …

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Ville Leino's Sabres career could end today. ©2014, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
2

While it’s hard to believe now, Ville Leino’s arrival in Buffalo almost three years ago was greeted with some fanfare.

Back then, Leino was one of the best free agents on the market. Awarding Leino a stunning six-year, $27 million contract was risky. The Finn only had one full NHL season under his belt. But the signing proved the Sabres wanted to bring in the best talent they could and gun for a Stanley Cup.

Of course, Leino proved to be the …

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Thomas Vanek played his first game back in Buffalo on Sunday. ©2014, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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BUFFALO – Back in the summer, Thomas Vanek had a simple, straightforward question for the Sabres. The slick winger wanted to know what direction the team was going.

“No one really had an answer,” Vanek said Sunday prior to the Montreal Canadiens’ 2-0 win against Sabres, his first game back here. “That’s when I kind of made up my mind July 1 (unrestricted free agency) was probably a goal of mine.”

The Sabres, of course, traded Vanek, their co-captain, to the New …

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Daniel Briere has four goals with Montreal. ©2013, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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BUFFALO – This is a new phase for Daniel Briere, the popular former Sabres superstar. At 36 years old, the diminutive forward’s clearly on the downside of his career. These days, he’s no longer the guy, just one of the Montreal Canadiens’ secondary players.

But there are still flashes of the old slick Briere. Since returning from a concussion Nov. 12, he has three goals in seven games, including two in the last four.

Briere’s even earning some top-line duty again as …

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Steve Ott (9) and Thomas Vanek were named co-captains Tuesday. ©2013, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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BUFFALO – Shortly before noon Tuesday, the Sabres quickly streamed off the First Niagara Center ice following practice and walked to their dressing room. The metal door closed after all the players had entered.

Inside, coach Ron Rolston began addressing his team’s captaincy, which had remained vacant since the Sabres traded Jason Pominville in April.

Cheers emanated from the room a few minutes later. More applause could be heard shortly after that.

Instead of naming one captain, Rolston awarded the prestigious ‘C’ to …

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Henrik Tallinder left the Sabres in 2010. ©2013, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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BUFFALO – Three years ago, Henrik Tallinder sensed his Sabres career was ending. Despite a strong season helping then-rookie Tyler Myers develop into of the NHL’s top defensemen, the Swede knew the team had little interest in awarding him a long-term contract.

So when free agency opened, Tallinder signed a four-year, $13.5 million deal with the New Jersey Devils.

Had the Sabres offered even three years to Tallinder, he said he might’ve considered staying with the organization that originally drafted him 48th …

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Drew Bagnall has spent almost all of his career in the AHL. ©2013, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
1

BUFFALO – It didn’t take Sabres fans long to experience some of that suffering general manager Darcy Regier warned could lie ahead.

As free agency opened Friday afternoon and teams began piling up assets, the rebuilding Sabres remained quiet most of the day.

Finally, at about 9:30 p.m., TSN’s Bob McKenzie reported the Sabres had signed AHL defenseman Drew Bagnall to a two-year, two-way contract.

That depth move probably won’t make the team’s anxious fan base stop fretting.

Remember, though, Regier has said the …

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Darcy Regier talks Sunday at the NHL Entry Draft. ©2013, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
0

BUFFALO – For now at least, starting goalie Ryan Miller and slick winger Thomas Vanek, two veteran stars entering the final seasons of their contracts, are still members of the Sabres.

Sabres general manager Darcy Regier said Tuesday he has spoken to the players’ agents and both sides plan to continue chatting.

“As I’ve stated before, it’s incumbent upon me to have a sense of what the marketplace is or re-sign them versus allowing them to become unrestricted and just have very …

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