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About 35 players came to the First Niagara Center for the opening of the Buffalo Bandits’ training camp on Saturday. As usual, John Tavares was the center of attention.

Tavares turned up to start season 23 as a Bandit. To put that in perspective, the 45-year-old Bandit has spent about half of his life wearing Buffalo’s orange and black.

The forward was held to 39 points in 12 games last season, mostly due to a calf injury. There was some talk in the offseason that Tavares retired, but he decided to try again.

“I wasn’t sure if I’d be back,” he said. “I took the summer off, and talked to” Bandits’ general manager “Steve Dietrich about whether I should come back or not. We both agreed that I probably should.

“The team had a disappointing year last year, and it would be a disappointing year to leave,” Tavares added. “I hope I still have something in me.”

The veteran added that the switch in head coaches from Darris Kilgour to Troy Cordingley had no influence on his decision to return.

“I love playing the game, and it’s just a matter of seeing if I can contribute,” Tavares said.

Elsewhere, Dietrich said the team will not re-sign free agent Derek Suddons.

email: bbailey@buffnews.com