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KNOX THINKS TEAM'S PLAY WILL IMPROVE

Buffalo Sabres President Seymour H. Knox III Friday said he didn't think he was getting fair value for the money he's paying his players, but he said he expects that will change.

"Not right now," Knox said when asked if the player's performance is equal to the money they are receiving. "I think that will change, though. I have confidence in Gerry's ability (Sabres General Manager Gerry Meehan) to get things straightened around. I have confidence the problems will be solved. I expect them to be solved."

The Sabres problems have been obvious for several weeks now. The team is below .500 and came into Friday's 4-3 loss to Pittsburgh closer to last place in the Adams Division than it was to first.

Prior to Thursday, the Sabres had lost three straight (four if you count an exhibition loss to Soviet Khimik) and had been embarrassed in an 8-3 debacle at Detroit Tuesday.

Knox declined to state how he expected Meehan would solve the team's problems, but it's likely he has a pretty good idea. Meehan met with Knox and several board members to explain the reason behind the team's poor play of late and his plan to remedy the situation.

Those plans weren't made public when Meehan and Knox met with the media in an informal setting Friday afternoon, but statements by both men seemed to indicate a plan is in place.

Meehan said he had assessed the situation and expected it would change once the team regained its confidence.

Sabres assistant coach John Torterella, a fixture behind the bench for more than a month now, returned to the press box Friday and worked the game via headset radio.

There had been reports that in recent days Meehan told coach Rick Dudley to reduce the number of coaches on the bench.

Some players acknowledged the additional tension of playing for what might be Dudley's future with the team. Defenseman Mike Ramsey said he knew what was at stake. "It's for him and all of us," Ramsey said. "We brought this pressure on ourselves." It was Ramsey's first game back since missing seven games with a rib injury. Dudley said the defenseman, still tender in the rib area, probably shouldn't have even played.

The Sabres lost Alexander Mogilny to what Dudley said was a slight concussion caused by an elbow. The incident took place in the second period, and Mogilny did not return for the third period. . . . The Sabres scratched goaltender Darcy Wakaluk, forwards John Tucker and Jiri Sejba and defenseman Jay Wells and Brad Miller. Wells is said to have a mild knee problem and Miller has a cut hand.

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