There are two things you need to know about Lou Franceschetti and Brian Curran.
Neither is here to replace Mike Foligno.
Alone, or together, they are not the answer to the Sabres' problems.
"I've talked only briefly with the general manager (Gerry Meehan), but I think we're here to add some grit and maybe a little more physical play than maybe they've been getting," said Franceschetti in the hours after he and Curran were obtained from the Toronto Maple Leafs for Foligno, the former captain, and future considerations.
"We didn't come here to take the place of the guy who left," said Curran. "I can't tell you why he's gone and we're here. That's just something management did. It's the business of the game. We're just the players."
The business of the game has cut the captain out of the Sabres' locker room and brought in questions about the team's leadership, toughness and character, the contributions of its young players and even the future of the coaching staff.
But Curran and Franceschetti are strangers to that.
They are here only to help add some drive and muscle to a team that, so far this season, has played soft. They also are looking to restart their careers. Both played in Tuesday's 4-3 overtime victory at Hartford and both are expected to be in the lineup tonight when the Sabres meet the Bruins in Boston Garden (7:35, Ch. 29 and Radio 550).
Getting restarted in a new city with a new team shouldn't be too difficult for Franceschetti. Although 32 years old and approaching the end of a very respectable career, the "hard-nosed" winger still may be an effective forward. Among his strengths is an ability
to smother the puck in the other team's zone. He's also good at the physical part of the game, especially along the boards and corners, and has a reputation for character and determination.
"I played with Lou in Washington," said Sabres goaltender Clint Malarchuk. "He's a hard nose, but he knows where the net is. We played (against) each other in the minors, too, and he was something of a sniper then."
That would have been when Franceschetti was in Hershey. He had two 30-goal-plus seasons with the Bears. He had 29 goals in 52 games with Binghamton in 1984-85 and a 45-goal season in his last year of juniors.
Looking at his career record, Franceschetti is a living example of hockey's well-traveled player. He played junior hockey in Niagara Falls, then traveled the minors with stops in Saginaw, Port Huron and Hershey before finding a mostly permanent spot with the Capitals. While with Washington, there were two brief stints in Binghamton and a stay in Baltimore (10 games) before the Caps sent him home to Toronto for a fifth-round pick in the 1990 entry draft.
He sparked a mini-revival for the Leafs last season, using his aggressive style of play (127 penalty minutes) to help a largely inconsistent team to its first .500 season in a decade. He scored a career-high 21 goals in the process. Franceschetti said he expected to perform a similar role for the Leafs this season, but a broken foot at the start of the season and an early-season coaching change left him out of the plans.
"I never really got a reason why," Franceschetti said of the trade. "I guess it was a no-win situation there with Tom (coach Tom Watt) coming in and bringing a more older . . . mind you, I'm not that young myself . . . but a bit more of a veteran team and a more defensive style. I knew, more or less, the writing was on the wall."
Curran found himself on the outside as well. The two got a lot of ice time under former coach Doug Carpenter, but when Watt took over, they and defenseman Brad Marsh seemed out of the picture. Curran appeared in only four games and eventually accepted a trip to Newmarket in the American League.
"They made changes, and they got some different defensemen (Dave Ellett from the Winnipeg Jets, for one), and to get myself back in that lineup at the time was really, really tough," Curran said. "I went down to the minors to get myself back into shape, and when I came back I wasn't waiting to get back in that lineup. It would have taken forever."
Like Franceschetti, Curran is well-traveled. The Bruins made him their second choice in the 1982 entry draft, the 22nd player taken overall. He spent parts of three seasons with the Bruins, two seasons with the Islanders and two-plus seasons with the Maple Leafs. He played in a career-high 72 games with the Leafs last season, scoring two goals, assisting on nine and accumulating 301 penalty minutes.
It's likely Curran already has supplanted Brad Miller in the Buffalo lineup. Miller was meeting with Meehan Wednesday afternoon in Boston and likely will be returned to Rochester. Ironically, Miller was taken in the same spot as Curran, but in the 1987 entry draft.
According to people who have watched him play at Toronto, the 6-foot-5, 215-pound defenseman is always a game and willing performer, and while not overly blessed with natural talent, should be able to perform well in a small rink.
"It has been a while since I've played (regularly), but I still have that eagerness to play," Curran said. "I definitely welcomed this deal.
"I just love to play and I told them if I could get a chance to go somewhere and play, I'd go anywhere. For myself, this is great. For Louie, it might be different (Toronto being his hometown and he being a favorite of the large Italian-Canadian community there), but for me, this is great. It's another beginning."
At 27, Curran still can play. He's a defenseman of limited ability, but he has fortitude and a good hockey mind. He plays a cautious, conservative style, but is extremely difficult to knock down and is a willing fighter (356 penalty minutes in 68 games with the 1986-87 New York Islanders).