BUFFALO – Nine months earlier, in the same spot he stood smiling Sunday, Jochen Hecht had fought back tears discussing what appeared to be the end of his long Sabres career.
Back then, concussions – three in 10 months and two in five, including a serious, season-ending one last January – had derailed the German’s career. He was turning 35 years old and entering free agency following a 22-game season.
The chances of the Sabres re-signing the center looked slim.
“There was a …