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AUDETTE SIDELINED BY CONCUSSION

Buffalo Sabres' forward Donald Audette will miss at least the next 10 days of play.

The winger, who suffered a concussion in Wednesday's game against the Calgary Flames, will need more test results to determine the full extent of the injury. However, he has been ruled out of the next road trip, a four-game swing that begins Sunday in Phoenix against the Coyotes.

Audette, Buffalo's top goal scorer last season, was knocked into the boards by an elbow from Flames' rookie Steve Begin in the second period. He was taken to Buffalo General Hospital, where he remained overnight. Audette was released Thursday morning.

Audette's spot in the lineup could be taken by Matthew Barnaby, another right winger. Barnaby has missed two weeks with a bruised sternum, but he is said to be about ready to return to action.
Free agent Michael Peca said Thursday that not only was the Sabres' latest offer of $6 million over four years unacceptable, but that the way the team handled the situation was inappropriate as well.

"It's a funny thing -- when (Sabres' vice president) Kevin Billet made the proposal to my agent, he said, 'I know you guys don't want a four-year deal, but it's the one we're putting on the table,' " Peca said. "It's the same deal we had rejected earlier. In the years 2000 and 2001, who knows what the market will be?

"Then, immediately after giving us an offer they didn't want, the Sabres went up to the press box, told everyone the offer and said they had exhausted all efforts to sign me. It's unfair to pull something like this."

Peca also rejected Sabres' general manager Darcy Regier's claim that the proposal would effectively make Peca the highest-paid forward on the team.

"Brad May will earn $1.5 million this year. The first year of the proposal would give me $1.15 million," Peca said. "I probably wouldn't be the highest-paid forward next season at $1.3 million, either."

Peca spent part of Thursday in Canada working on his passport. He says if no deal is reached by Tuesday, he will join Canada's national team for a trip to play in England. Peca added that talks will continue in the meantime. The center could join Canada's team, but then leave at any time after signing with the Sabres.

When asked about his feelings concerning the negotiating process, Peca replied, "I'm pretty sick of it."
The Sabres had no on-ice work Thursday. Instead, the team had a weight-lifting session in Marine Midland Arena.

Buffalo will be on the ice this morning at the Hockey Outlet in Wheatfield, and then participate in a luncheon at the Arena. Saturday the team is off on one of its longest road trips of the season. The Sabres will visit Phoenix, Denver, Greensboro, N.C., and Miami during the nine days starting Saturday.

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