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After 16 NHL seasons, ex-Sabres captain Brian Gionta calls it a career

Former Sabres captain Brian Gionta made it official Monday afternoon, announcing his retirement from the NHL after a career that spanned 1,026 games over 16 seasons.

Speaking at a news conference in KeyBank Center, the Rochester native confirmed his playing days have ended and he is moving into an unspecified role on the development staff of the Sabres and Rochester Amerks that he termed a "small part" in the organization.

"I went into hoping I could play one NHL game ... I would have never thought it lasted as long as it did," he said.

Gionta, 39, was an unsigned free agent after playing for the U.S. Olympic team and the Boston Bruins last season. Gionta had two goals and five assists in 20 games for Boston but only played in one game over the Bruins' two playoff rounds.

Gionta captained the Sabres for three seasons (2014-15 through 2016-17) after signing a three-year, $12.75-million contract when free agency opened on July 1, 2014. He collected 40 goals and 63 assists in 230 games for Buffalo.

Gionta finished his NHL career with 291 goals and 595 points. A seven-time 20-goal scorer, his best year was a 48-goal, 89-point campaign for New Jersey in 2005-06. He won a Stanley Cup  while with the Devils in 2003.

Gionta played parts of seven seasons for the Devils (2001-09) and parts of five with Montreal (2009-14). Just prior to his second season with the Habs, he was named captain and joined Chris Chelios as the only American-born captains of the storied franchise.

Sabres General Manager Jason Botterill, coach Phil Housley and many members of the current team were at the back of the room for the news conference.

Jack Eichel on expected retirement of Brian Gionta: 'It's an unbelievable career'

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