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HASEK HINTS AT POSTPONING HIS RETIREMENT

Buffalo Sabres goalie Dominik Hasek continued to leave open the possibility he could return for another season, according a report published Monday in the Czech Republic.

Hasek spent the weekend in Prague and told a newspaper there that previous plans that called for him to retire after this season could be put on hold because he has missed most of this season with a groin injury. Hasek could not be reached Monday night.

"Everything is open," Hasek told the Mlada Fronta Dnes newspaper. "If I remain injured for a long time, I may return. Nothing is definitive."

His statements were similar to comments he made recently in Buffalo. Sabres general manager Darcy Regier said Monday he knew nothing of the report and has not spoken to Hasek about the possibility he would come back.

"It's the first I've heard it," Regier said. "It's not something I would comment on at this time. . . . We're back home (Wednesday). There's plenty of time to address the situation. We'll see."

Hasek could be putting the Sabres in a bind by not definitively announcing his plans. His status affects the Sabres' budget, whether they should protect him in the expansion draft or whether they would consider trading his rights to another team.

Hasek has been sidelined since Oct. 29, when he tore his groin muscle in a 3-2 victory over the Florida Panthers. He is expected to be out until at least January. Sources said Monday he has hired his own training instructor to help him with rehabilitation. He also is undergoing therapy in Marine Midland Arena.

Sabres coach Lindy Ruff said the team would start shopping outside the organization if problems continue with a power-play unit ranked last in the league.

The Sabres have one goal in 47 chances during the last 11 games. They promoted rookie defenseman Brian Campbell from Rochester on Monday after placing Richard Smehlik on the injured list with torn cartilage in his ribs. They are hoping Campbell, a skilled offensive player, can help on the power play.

"The power play has been a huge issue," Ruff said. "We've tried the personnel we have here. We're going to give Brian a try on it. If that doesn't work, obviously we're going to have to look elsewhere."

Campbell had been inconsistent with the Amerks for several weeks but he played much better over the weekend after having several heated discussions with his father. His father had urged him to play more aggressively, which coincides with the Sabres' request from the 20-year-old.

Ruff did not say specifically who could be moved if problems persist. He has expressed disappointment with defensemen Jason Woolley and Alexei Zhitnik and their failure to put the puck on net. The Sabres had a four-minute power play during a 2-2 tie with the Islanders on Saturday and did not have a shot on goal.

"We're playing hard, but it really drags the momentum of our team down when we get a two-minute power play and we generate nothing," Ruff said. "We had a four-minute power play the other night and didn't get a shot on goal. It not only drags your team down but it lifts the other team up.

"You hear rumors about different guys who are available. If we could find a guy available to help our power play, he would be here by now. So far, I don't think the right guy has popped up."

Defenseman Rhett Warrener left practice early Monday with a sore groin suffered against the Islanders. He played through the injury Saturday but had problems skating Monday.

Warrener expected to participate in the morning skate today and to decide before the game whether he would play. He would have stayed on the ice Monday but was told to leave practice rather than risk further injury.

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