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SABRES TRADE PECA TO ISLANDERS

Former Buffalo Sabres captain Michael Peca was traded to the New York Islanders Sunday, ending a contentious, yearlong battle between the player and Sabres management.

Buffalo gets a pair of promising young forwards -- Tim Connolly and Taylor Pyatt -- from the Islanders in exchange for Peca, a proven leader who is widely considered one of the top checking centers in the NHL.

Peca, who played five seasons for Buffalo from 1994-95 through 1999-2000, missed last season in a contract holdout. Peca was demanding $3.5 million a year, and the Sabres never offered anything over $2.8 million until after Peca publicly announced that he would never again play for Buffalo. By holding out, Peca lost between $2.5 million and $3 million in salary last season.

"You have to make some tough choices along the way, but I stick with that and I feel good about that," Peca said Sunday at a hastily called press conference outside the Adam's Mark hotel. "Today is a day that I can finally look forward to playing again, and as a family, we can look forward to moving on with our lives."

Peca, who played parts of two seasons for the Vancouver Canucks before being traded to Buffalo in 1994, has 102 goals and 127 assists in 400 career NHL games -- including 96 goals and 121 assists in 366 games with Buffalo. He has eight goals and 13 assists in 49 playoff games as a Sabre, and one assist in five playoff games with Vancouver.

He married a Buffalonian -- the former Kristin Herzog -- in 1998, and plans to maintain a home in the Buffalo area.

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