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Ex-Sabres captain Rivet signs in ECHL

by Adam Kimelman /
At age 37, defenseman Craig Rivet isn't quite ready to hang up his skates.

On Monday, Rivet signed with the Elmira Jackals of the ECHL.

"We are very excited to sign Craig and give our fans the opportunity to watch such an accomplished and talented player skate at First Arena this season," Jackals general manager Robbie S. Nichols said. "This is a huge signing for the Elmira Jackals."

"Craig's experience and leadership qualities are invaluable to any team," added Jackals coach Pat Bingham. "His work ethic will be a great example for our young players who are looking to advance in hockey."

Bingham said the fact that Rivet made the two-hour drive from Buffalo to Elmira Sunday night so he could be at the rink early Monday morning showed his level of commitment.

"He's a very welcome addition, not only from a talent standpoint and what he brings on the ice, but what he brings off the ice, his leadership and character," said Bingham. "A player so highly regarded for his leadership that he's been a captain in the NHL. It's not only great for the organization, for the town, but for our young players to learn from a guy who's going to set a great example. He's going to be a tremendous asset to me as well, teaching these young defensemen how to play the game."

Rivet said the chance to be a mentor is something that certainly interests him.

"The reasons these guys are here is that they're coming from diff teams, coming from Europe, they're leaving university after four years. These guys are trying to make the next level," he said. "This is their starting point. It's nice that I have been through it and I can help these guys in any way to try to move them along quicker. That's one of the reasons I'm here."

Rivet started last season as captain of the Buffalo Sabres, but was waived and claimed on re-entry waivers by the Columbus Blue Jackets. In 37 games in 2010-11, he had 2 goals, 4 points and a minus-12 rating.

"I've never felt better," Rivet said. "I'm going to need a little bit of time to get back on the ice and skate again (but) as far as the body and how I feel, I feel fantastic right now. I'll take it slow and make sure I don't have any problems moving forward."

A 1992 third-round pick of the Montreal Canadiens, Rivet played 16 NHL seasons, with the Canadiens, San Jose Sharks, Sabres and Blue Jackets, totaling 50 goals and 237 points in 923 NHL games. He also had 23 points in 69 Stanley Cup Playoff games.

Rivet said he doesn't see the move down in leagues as any sort of insult.

"It's not the level, it's the competition," he said. "I know that the competition here is still high, there's a lot of hungry guys that want to move to the next level and that's what's exciting for me. It’s not like I'm coming down here and playing against guys of (no) caliber. These guys can play hockey. It's exciting for me to be here where I can further my career."

Contact Adam Kimelman at Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
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