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Sabres' plan may include Connolly

Tim Connolly and Cody McCormick are in a select club. Of the Buffalo Sabres' eight unrestricted free agents, it appears those are the only two the team could try to keep this week.

The free agent market opens at noon Friday, and Sabres General Manager Darcy Regier said he plans to talk to the agents for both forwards.

"We'll continue talking," Regier said Monday. "I'll have a conversation with Cody McCormick's agent, with Tim Connolly's agent, and we'll see where it goes from there."

The Sabres' unrestricted list also includes forwards Mike Grier, Rob Niedermayer, Mark Mancari and Matt Ellis, defenseman Steve Montador and goaltender Patrick Lalime. Regier said he's talked with Montador's agent only in passing. Grier will be re-examined after the first wave of signings.

Regier said the Sabres intend to be active Friday.

"We're hopeful that we'll be able to add," he said. "We'd like to add both forwards and defensemen, but we'll have to see how it goes."

The Sabres have taken the first step in retaining their restricted free agents, extending qualifying offers to eight of the nine (only forward Felix Schutz, who returned to Germany last season, was let go). The eight, who qualify for a 10 percent raise but can still renegotiate, are goaltender Jhonas Enroth, defensemen Mike Weber, Andrej Sekera, Marc-Andre Gragnani and Dennis Persson, and forwards Nathan Gerbe, Travis Turnbull and Dennis McCauley. Gerbe, Weber, Sekera and Gragnani have arbitration rights.

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Boston Bruins owner Jeremy Jacobs has brought the Stanley Cup to Buffalo. It's clear he didn't bring many Bruins fans with it.

Jacobs, the Buffalo-based owner of Delaware North Companies and the Bruins, is celebrating this month's NHL championship with his local employees. More than 500 and their families visited the legendary trophy Monday evening at Hamburg Casino at the Fairgrounds.

Aside from black and gold balloons and desserts, it was hard to tell it was a Bruins celebration. Men, women and children clad in Sabres jerseys and T-shirts lined up for the photo op, with only a handful of people in Bruins gear in sight.

"That's the great thing about the Stanley Cup. This is for all of hockey," said Mike Bolt, a white-gloved "Keeper of the Cup" for the past 12 years. "Yeah, the Boston Bruins are our current champions, but you can go and find your favorite team on there. Obviously, Buffalo hasn't won, but this attracts every hockey fan from every corner of the earth. That's what is so cool about it. The other three major trophies just don't have that appeal.

"Hockey has got the greatest trophy in all of sports, without a doubt."

Jacobs will bring the Cup to his global headquarters at Fountain Plaza at noon today before a private reception with Roswell Park Cancer Institute this evening. The Cup returns to Boston on Wednesday before Jacobs takes it to Yosemite National Park on Independence Day.

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The Sabres will hold a news conference at 11 a.m. Wednesday in Rochester to formally welcome the Amerks back to the organization. Owner Terry Pegula, who was approved as the minor-league club's owner last week, will join Regier and Sabres President Ted Black at Blue Cross Arena.

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The Sabres' 10th annual street hockey festival will return Aug. 20-21. Registration is open at Sabres.com, and fans with questions can call 855-4144. The tournament is open to boys and girls ages 5 to 17, with a $125 fee per five-person team.

e-mail: jvogl@buffnews.com