The Buffalo Sabres' '90s Day celebration took place Saturday and probably the three greatest players of the decade were not on hand.
Goaltender Dominik Hasek, who is a regular visitor to KeyBank Center and was in the building before Christmas, lives in the Czech Republic. Alexander Mogilny lives in Russia and has not been here since his 2011 induction into the team's hall of fame. Both were featured on the poster handed out to fans that was part of the game program.
Pat LaFontaine, one of just seven Sabres to have his number retired by the club and the only member of the trio to play his entire Buffalo career in the decade, was not on the poster or at the ceremony. The estrangement of LaFontaine from the team he served as president of for four months during the 2013-14 season continues with no end in sight.
LaFontaine, it should be noted, has been included in the team's 50th anniversary video presentations and was part of its 1990s video unveiled Saturday, with a classic "La-La-La-La-LaFontaine" call from Rick Jeanneret included. He left the team in murky circumstances after having philosophical differences with the Pegula ownership, and his only connection to the club since has been when he was named to the NHL100 at the 2017 All-Star Game festivities in Los Angeles and posed for pictures with Hasek and Gilbert Perreault.
LaFontaine has politely declined invitations from the team to all 50th anniversary ceremonies this season and it seems there is no way for him and the club to bury the hatchet. Attempts to reach him in the days leading up to Saturday's event were unsuccessful.
"I just don't know if they can," former Sabres captain Michael Peca said before Saturday's game against the Florida Panthers. "That would be between the two parties. I think it's just unfortunate everything that happened. I think Patty would have been a tremendous fit for this organization, but that's the way it goes. People come and go. We agree, we disagree. But unfortunately and fortunately at the same time, life moves on and you've got to focus on what's ahead of you.
"Patty is a dear friend. Obviously he's not just the best player probably to wear the jersey in the '90s but one of the best to wear the jersey, period. It's unfortunate but along with the Mogilnys, people like that, there's other guys that aren't here."
Around 30 players were introduced to the crowd prior to the opening faceoff, many to huge cheers. Dave Hannan, whose goal in the fourth overtime beat New Jersey in the 1994 playoff game that remains the longest in franchise history, held up a jersey of Dale Hawerchuk in a tribute to the former Sabres center battling stomach cancer.
Peca got one of the biggest ovations and the crowd pumped the volume even more when he lifted off his No. 27 Sabres jersey and revealed a No. 27 Tre White Bills jersey underneath it.