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John Gurtler will return to do play by play and Jim Lorentz will be the lone analyst for television coverage of Buffalo Sabres games on Channel 29 and local cable next National Hockey League season.

Mike Robitaille, who had been on Sabres TV broadcasts for the last several years, has become the third man out. He would appear to be a candidate for the job as radio analyst on WGR-AM, especially if Danny Gare is successful in a rumored attempt to work for the new Tampa Bay franchise.

"Basically, Roby is being released because we can't afford three guys now," said Paul Wieland, executive producer of the Sabres' television arm, Niagara Frontier Sports Productions.

The club's economic problems also may have helped Gurtler, who became the Sabres' play-by-play man last season after veteran Ted Darling was relieved of his duties. Cost considerations may have prevented the Sabres from attracting a more experienced play-by-play man.

Looking at the bright side, Wieland said: "The return to a two-man telecast will make our telecasts leaner and I hope less cluttered. John Gurtler will be involved in some feature production, as that is one of his strengths, and also pitch in on occasional interviews and intermission segments.

"Jim proved last year he is one of the most versatile broadcasters in the NHL, working as host, analyst and even play by play during the year."

The Sabres said Darling remains a team employee and is expected to do occasional broadcast and public relations duties.

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