On what may have been his last day in the Buffalo Sabres' dressing room, Tim Connolly had nothing to say about his latest injury, his streak of playoff games without a goal or his NHL future.
Several inquiring minds in HSBC Arena wanted to hear his answers Thursday, but Connolly did not oblige. He ducked out of the arena without speaking to the media as the Sabres cleaned out their lockers.
While the other players packed their gear in the dressing room, Connolly sent two assistant equipment managers to stow his belongings. Connolly was briefly spotted coming out of an equipment room, but he quickly ducked back into a restricted area when he noticed the media waiting by his locker.
Reporters waited 90 minutes after the rest of the players had completed interviews to talk to Connolly, but a team spokesman said he had left the building.
Connolly left the series against Philadelphia in Game Six when he was checked from behind by Flyers captain Mike Richards.
The team has yet to confirm whether the injury was another in a long line of concussions or if it was a shoulder/collarbone problem, but coach Lindy Ruff said after the series that Connolly would have been out for about six weeks.
Connolly had 13 goals and 42 points and was minus-10, but he was also one of the team's best penalty killers. Still, he was again scoreless in the playoffs -- extending his streak of goalless postseason games to 29.
Connolly, who turns 30 on May 7, is the Sabres' longest-tenured player, acquired from the New York Islanders in 2001 for Michael Peca. He has played out the final season of the two-year, $9-million contract extension he signed in 2009, so his return is in doubt. He will join Steve Montador, Cody McCormick, Rob Niedermayer, Mike Grier and Matt Ellis as unrestricted free agents.
Jason Pominville was not in the building in the wake of his season-ending surgery for a severed leg tendon suffered in Game Five.
Pominville's recovery timetable is four to six months, putting him in jeopardy of missing training camp and the start of the season, which includes the team's trip to Europe for an exhibition in Germany and the regular-season games in Germany and Finland.
Grier, who battled a knee injury over the final two months, said he'll either re-sign with the Sabres or retire. The 36-year-old right winger won't play elsewhere.
"For myself and my family, that's probably what it is," Grier said. "I've enjoyed it here. They've treated me well. I like playing with the guys. It's a good group of guys. I've got some good friends, and it's a good team that's got a chance to win."
Thomas Vanek led the Sabres with five goals against the Flyers, a first-round total topped only by Danny Briere and Anaheim's Teemu Selanne (six each). Still, the left winger was disappointed in his play.
"The way we didn't get it done in the playoffs, there's something to learn from. That's myself included," Vanek said. "I was going pretty good for most of the year, and then I didn't get the job done in the playoffs. That personally hurts, and it's something I don't want to happen again.
"Anytime you lose a series, you've got to be better. Each one of us has to look in the mirror and see what they could've done better."
The Sabres finished the season without a captain, and the Sabres' leading scorer would be a leading candidate for next season.
"If it happens, it happens," Vanek said. "If not, I'm not going to be disappointed. If it's something I come upon, I'll take the challenge."
Vanek walked out with more gear than he anticipated. The equipment guys gave him a large bundle of about 20 sticks, and he started laughing.
"I guess they're expecting me to play a lot this summer," he said. "This is more sticks that I use all year."
Ryan Miller acknowledged the injury that sidelined him late in the year was a concussion. His head got dinged by four shots in a week, with blasts from New Jersey's Brian Rolston and Toronto's Dion Phaneuf doing the most damage, though it was the cumulative effect that sidelined him. He added he did have a significant collarbone bruise, but that wouldn't have made him miss the number of games the concussion did.
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