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The Buffalo Sabres' banners are back in their proper place.

In a pregame ceremony Thursday night, the flags marking division and conference championships, as well as retired uniform numbers, were raised to the rafters of the Marine Midland Arena.

Among those participating in the ceremony were ex-Sabres Danny Gare, Bill Hajt, Wilf Paiement, Derek Smith, Fred Stanfield, Rick Martin, Richie Dunn, Larry Playfair, and Tony McKegney.

Rene Robert -- whose uniform number has been retired -- was not in attendance. He said he was only invited to the ceremony late Wednesday afternoon.

"Someone left me a voice mail message about it," Robert said from Toronto. "I got a hold of (club president) Doug Moss and told him I had a 2 o'clock business meeting and couldn't make it.

"If I had been told about it a week ahead of time, I would have been happy to go."

Sabres spokesman Terry Dunford said that Robert had told the team this past summer that he was not interested in attending any ceremonial events in Buffalo, but that the team called Robert Wednesday as a courtesy to see if he had changed his mind.

The numbers of Robert, Martin, Gil Perreault (who recently declined to attend, due to family obligations), and the late Tim Horton were raised to the roof.
Matthew Barnaby was in high spirits and good humor . . . at least until the warm-ups.

Barnaby played in his first game of the season, having signed a new contract on Saturday. He said at the morning skate that he was happy to be back and looking forward to playing.

But apparently the sight of the Montreal Canadiens' Donald Brashear changed Barnaby's demeanor. The two took swings at each other during the pregame skate. Barnaby appeared to be talking to the Canadiens throughout the warm-ups.

"I played against him in junior and we've had our run-ins," Barnaby said of Brashear. "I just wanted to get myself mentally in the game. I think that's what I have to do. If I'm not talking, or pushing, or instigating, don't look for a good game from me."

Barnaby didn't start defending his league title in penalty minutes until the last minute of play, when he got into a fight with Turner Stevenson of the Canadiens.

"I had to," the Sabre said about the altercation. "They started to push us around. Anytime you take a liberty with Pat LaFontaine -- our captain and our leader -- you can't let that happen. Everyone on the bench wanted to settle things."
Garry Galley tried out his bruised right shoulder in the pregame skate, but decided he couldn't play. The defenseman was scratched in favor of Jay McKee. . . . Dominik Hasek played in his eighth straight game in goal for Buffalo. Pat Jablonski played the first 40 minutes; Jocelyn Thibault finished up in the Canadiens' goal. . . . Montreal had a 30-27 advantage in shots.

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