Michael Peca probably should have been a Sabre forever. He was one of the most popular players on the team, married a woman from the area, and was one of the league's best defensive centers. Teams usually try to find ways to keep guys like that.
But, Peca and the Sabres hit a contract wall in 2000. Peca reportedly was waiting for a salary of $3 million, and the Sabres thought that was high. So Peca stayed home, and a stalemate developed.
Peca missed all of the 2000-01 season. Considering how close Buffalo came to making the conference finals that year, it was easy to play the "what if?" game.
Finally, 460 days after playing his last NHL game, Peca was swapped to the New York Islanders on this day for center Tim Connolly and winger Taylor Pyatt.
"Obviously, the temporary feeling is I'm relieved it's over," Peca said. "Professionally, I look forward to moving on with my career. Personally, my family is looking forward to moving on with our lives."
Peca scored a career-high 60 points and won another Selke Trophy (best defensive forward) in 2001-02. He then bounced to Edmonton, Toronto and Columbus, retiring in 2009.