Rob Ray, his back to the rink, craned his neck at the JumboTron before Wednesday night's preseason game between his former teams, the Buffalo Sabres and Ottawa Senators.
He had heard his name mentioned during the replay of a 1993 Sabres-Senators game and turned around in time to see a young version of himself pulverize Darcy Loewen into the glass.
"I was pretty good then," he cracked.
Ray's playing days are done now -- officially. The Sabres' all-time tough guy deposited a $70,000 check that settled his lawsuit with the NHL Players Association.
He sued the union after it informed him in November he had been classified as retired even though he hadn't filed the required paperwork. The union's stance denied him the $5,000 and $10,000 monthly lockout stipends paid to other players.
"There's a settlement, and that's nice, too, but the big part was them admitting they were wrong," said Ray, wearing a suit for his new role as a television commentator for Sabres games on MSG. "Somebody thought that they could pick and choose who got it and who didn't get it because of personality or conflict or whatever.
"I believed that I deserved what everybody else was getting. We settled for what they owed me. If they believed they were right, then we would have gone all the way, totally through with it."
Ray didn't skate for almost the entire 2003-04 season, but Senators General Manager John Muckler added him to the roster for the stretch run. He played only six regular-season games.
Nonetheless, Ray was one of a small handful of its members the union automatically deemed retired. He said he believes the union declined to remit his monthly stipends because he had been critical of then-NHLPA Executive Director Bob Goodenow.
"At the beginning," Ray said, "I was trying to tell (the membership), 'Speak up. Ask questions because you don't know what's going on.' They put a lot of faith and trust in the boss, and at the very end they realized he didn't do the right things for them, that he didn't do a good job for them.
"That's why they got rid of him. I just wish more guys would have asked more questions that summer."
Sabres forwards Adam Mair and Andrew Peters remain out of action because of nagging injuries.
Mair continues to struggle with a groin injury. He didn't play Wednesday night and has dressed for only one preseason game.
"I think he's a little behind the 8-ball," Sabres coach Lindy Ruff said. "He hasn't played a lot of hockey. It would be pretty tough to get to opening night and throw him in. But we know what he brings to the club. That is not in question."
Ruff said Peters would be out until the start of next week with a triceps injury.
Maxim Afinogenov didn't play, but before Wednesday's games the speedy right wing ranked first in the NHL with 25 shots in five preseason games. Ales Kotalik was tied for fifth with 19 shots.
Ryan Miller's 1.33 goals-against average in three games ranked fifth.
The game was carried on DISH Network after the satellite provider made a last-minute deal with MSG to carry the Sabres' schedule this season in the Buffalo area, a team spokesperson said.
Surprisingly, the other satellite provider, DirecTV, did not carry the game even though MSG had previously told the Sabres a deal had been finalized.
A spokesperson for the team said he was told Wednesday that negotiations between MSG and DirecTV are continuing.