March 24, 1998 -- Jason Dawe didn't know it at the time, but this day marked the turning point of his career.
After spending parts of three seasons playing for both the Sabres and their minor-league affiliate in Rochester, the forward found his niche in 1995. He became a regular, and scored 25 goals and 25 assists in only 67 games in 1995-96. In his next season, he had 22 goals and helped the Sabres win the Northeast Division.
In 1997-98, Dawe was on his way to another 20-goal season. He had 19 goals in 67 games when he got word that his days as a Sabre were over. Buffalo sent him to the New York Islanders for Paul Kruse, a tough guy, and minor-league defenseman Jason Holland.
The idea was to make room for Vaclav Varada on the Sabres' roster. Varada was a bigger forward who figured to be a better fit on the Sabres' checking line. Kruse and Holland didn't make much of an impact in Buffalo.
Meanwhile, Dawe's career was never the same. He had one goal in 13 games in the rest of the 1997-98 season. The next season, he scored a total of six goals as he divided his time between the Islanders and Canadiens. And he never scored another NHL goal again, finishing his playing career with the Charlotte Checkers of the East Coast Hockey League in 2005.
For those who wonder why pro athletes try to maximize their income while in the major leagues, think of Dawe's career. You never know what might happen around the bend.
--- Budd Bailey