The Miroslav Satan era comes to an end today.
So says Miroslav Satan.
Minutes after helping lead the Buffalo Sabres to a convincing 5-1 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday, Satan not only reiterated his belief he's going to be traded before Tuesday's deadline, he said someone told him it's going to happen.
If so, the game at 6 tonight in HSBC Arena against the St. Louis Blues will be the final Sabres appearance for the player who's been the scoring leader among seasonlong Sabres for six straight seasons and was making a run at seven.
"I expect something to happen because I've been told that by somebody, but that's all I want to say about it," Satan said. "We've got a couple more games to go and one more game (today), so I'm just going to focus on that and whatever will happen will happen."
Satan was asked who the person was who told him to expect something, and he responded with, "No. Not yet."
As General Manager Darcy Regier pointed out, Satan didn't say whether that person was a member of the Sabres' organization. Regier also said he wouldn't comment on individual players.
"Obviously, it's a very interesting time. I think it's a stressful time," he said. "The only thing I can say is the focus is on the team making an effort to make the playoffs. We believe it's possible. We play (today), and that's where the focus is."
Even before his comments, Satan created a media firestorm inside the Air Canada Centre with his most intriguing goal celebration. After scoring his team-leading 26th goal and the game's final one on a breakaway midway through the third period, Satan took off a glove and pretended his hand was a cell phone and feigned a call as the "Hockey Night in Canada" cameras zeroed in.
"Like I said, I've been told I should expect a phone call, so every time I hear the phone ringing these days that's the kind of feeling I get," Satan said. "It's probably something in my subconscious mind lately, and that's what I go with. It popped out in my head."
Satan's exploits overshadowed the fact the Sabres moved within six points of the final playoff spot with 15 games remaining thanks to the New York Islanders' loss to the Blues.
"We're right there," Sabres coach Lindy Ruff said. "Like I said, it's not trying to get eight points in two games. You can't do it. It's picking at it, two or three points a week to get back in it. Anytime you can gain ground or win a game on the road that you're not supposed to win, it really sets you up to move up in the standings."
The Sabres stormed out of the dressing room like a team possessed, taking nine of the first 11 shots and finishing the opening period with a 3-0 lead. The 19,404 in attendance had no choice but to boo the home team as it left the ice.
"We were pretty sharp early," said captain Chris Drury. "Usually, it's them that comes out so hard here, and we knew that and wanted to take the tempo and get it on our side early."
Rookie Derek Roy had his first multigoal game and had the Sabres ahead, 2-0, before the game was 13 minutes old.
"I feel more comfortable with the puck every time I'm on the ice," the 20-year-old said. "I'm playing a lot, and I like it."
Ruff said the center is playing a lot because the coaching staff has developed a trust in his abilities.
"Derek has probably played some of his best hockey, offensively and defensively," Ruff said.
Daniel Briere and Brian Campbell (one assist) added the other Buffalo goals.
The only time the Leafs beat goaltender Martin Biron was during a five-on-three power play early in the second period on a goal by Darcy Tucker. Biron made 32 saves.
"A one-goal game on the road, you've got to give Marty a lot of credit, but I thought team defense was pretty darn good," Ruff said.
Although the chance of concussed center Tim Connolly returning to the Sabres' lineup is as close to zero percent as you can get, Regier didn't want to close the book on the 22-year-old's season.
"We wouldn't want to do that to Tim," Regier said. "The main thing is him getting better."
The center, out since suffering a severe concussion during a preseason game against Chicago on Oct. 2, still is prohibited from exercising. He attended the Sabres' home game against Ottawa on Wednesday and said he feels a little better but doesn't do much physical activity.e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org