For the 14th instance in the past 17 games, Sabres co-captain Daniel Briere was absent from Buffalo's lineup when the Sabres faced the Toronto Maple Leafs on Thursday night. Briere, who briefly returned to action on December 14 for four games, will once again undergo testing to determine whether or not the abdominal injury which has sidelined him is in fact a sports hernia.
Upon a recommendation from Dr. David Mulder, the specialist in Montreal, Briere will be examined by another doctor in Toronto on Friday.
"The diagnosis is leaning towards a sports hernia and should be confirmed (Friday)," said Sabres head coach Lindy Ruff. "There is a specialist (in Toronto) that can do another test to confirm it, and if that's the case, we get him back to Montreal and have the surgery done."
Although the injury has a possibility of being a sports hernia, nothing yet is concrete.
"(The injury) has moved around, it's been good and it's been not good," said Sabres general manager Darcy Regier. "Dr. Mulder is more concerned now than when he saw Danny back in the early part of December."
According to Regier, the team wants to exhaust all other possible options before opting for a surgery that would put Briere out of the lineup for an extended period of time.
"You want to be right, first of all," said Regier. "No one wants to do a surgery if it's not necessary. On the other hand, if it is surgery that is needed, you certainly want it done as soon as possible, but we're not there yet. No one is on an absolute basis that he is going to need it. It's obviously not as good as it was or as good as we hoped it would be."
Ruff reiterated Regier's sentiments concerning the speed of the surgery if it is needed.
"If (the test) is positive (on Friday), we want to get the surgery done as soon as possible," said Ruff.
The leading scorer for Buffalo during 2003-04 with 65 points, Briere has appeared in just 24 games this season, scoring 14 goals and adding nine assists for 23 points.
Prior to this injury, Briere had played in 120 consecutive games since being acquired by Buffalo on March 11, 2003 and had missed just four games during four full seasons in the NHL.
Even without Briere or JP Dumont, who underwent surgery in early December for a sports hernia and is not expected to return until February, Regier is comfortable with the current roster, the progress that the team has made this season and didn't seem to view Briere's absence as something that had to be fixed through a trade or acquisition.
"Right now, (the holes in the lineup) are being filled pretty well with the depth of the organization," said Regier. -------------------------------------- Quotes courtesy of WGR 550-AM, the official radio partner of the Buffalo Sabres.