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COLAIACOVO RETURNS TO LINEUP; GRATEFUL FOR TIME SPENT WITH WEBER

by Jourdon LaBarber / Buffalo Sabres

ANAHEIM Carlo Colaiacovo could sense Mike Weber's mixed emotions when they spoke following the trade that sent Weber to the Washington Capitals on Tuesday afternoon. On one hand, Weber was on his way to a team that will enter the postseason as a favorite to win the Stanley Cup. On the other, he was leaving behind the only organization he's known for 10 years.

There were mixed emotions for Colaiacovo, too. Sabres coach Dan Bylsma has maintained throughout the season that he prefers not to carry eight defensemen on the roster. Trading Weber leaves the Sabres with seven, and Colaiacovo will return to the lineup against the Ducks on Wednesday night.

It's a bittersweet feeling that is unique to the business of being a professional athlete.

"I thanked him for the opportunity to get to know him," Colaiacovo said. "I've played against him a lot in my career and I knew what type of hockey player he was, but I never knew what type of person he was. I'm really grateful that I got to know the person Mike Weber because he was truly a fun guy to be around, he was a great teammate to be around and I wish him nothing but the best because he deserves it."

Colaiacovo knows the feeling Weber is experiencing. The tenure wasn't quite as long as Weber's was in Buffalo, but Colaiacovo had been with the Toronto Maple Leafs organization for nearly eight years when he was traded to the St. Louis Blues during the 2008-09 season.

"I've been around the game a long time and been around this time of year a long time," he said. "This is what happens at this time of year. You lose friends, you lose teammates, you lose guys you love to battle with. That's just the nature of the business."

While Colaiacovo will step in on defense, beginning against a red-hot Ducks team on Wednesday, he and the other Sabres will also be keeping an eye on the Capitals as the season progresses, wishing the best for their former teammate.

"He'll never lose his friends. Friends will stay friends forever no matter where you are," Colaiacovo said. "I'm going to be watching him, I'm going to be cheering for him, and in the same sense I'm grateful for the chance to be playing tonight."


UPDATE ON CODY FRANSON
The defenseman was back on the ice with the Sabres at their morning skate on Wednesday, this time without the red no-contact jersey he wore on Tuesday. Franson is nursing in injuries to his head and neck that he sustained on a hit into the boards in Columbus on Friday.

"He's doing better and progressing," Bylsma said. "Hopefully we'll see tomorrow and the next day possibly [whether getting] back to playing [is] possible on this trip."


BYLSMA'S BACK
Coming back to Honda Center is always a homecoming of sorts for the Sabres coach, who spent his final four NHL seasons playing for the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim. He was a part of the 2002-03 team that lost the Stanley Cup Final in seven games to Brian Gionta's New Jersey Devils.

"Probably of any place in the League this building feels the most familiar to me, on the ice and looking up in the stands," Bylsma said. "I reminisce to my last NHL goal here, I always seem to do it when I step back in this building. It was against L.A., it was the rivalry, but again that was way too long ago to talk about."


STAYING FOCUSED
With deadline week having officially begun with the trade of Weber, Bylsma said he doesn't expect it to affect the team's focus on the ice as they embark on a difficult California road trip. (link to yesterday's practice report)

"I don’t expect anything different from our team," he said. "We're building and focused on winning and being a winner. That's what I still expect to see from our team and our players. That's a process that were in and a process that's going through different phases, but that's what I still expect from our players going forward."

Robin Lehner will start in net for the Sabres and will be opposed by Freddie Andersen for the Ducks. Coverage begins at 10 p.m. with Tops Sabres Gamenight on MSG-B and Bell TV. The game can also be heard live on WGR 550.


PROJECTED LINEUP
9 Evander Kane – 23 Sam Reinhart – 56 Justin Bailey
28 Zemgus Girgensons – 15 Jack Eichel – 88 Jamie McGinn
82 Marcus Foligno – 22 Johan Larsson – 12 Brian Gionta
44 Nicolas Deslauriers – 17 David Legwand – 26 Matt Moulson

4 Josh Gorges – 55 Rasmus Ristolainen
29 Jake McCabe – 47 Zach Bogosian
25 Carlo Colaiacovo – 3 Mark Pysyk

40 Robin Lehner
31 Chad Johnson

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