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by Rob Crean / Buffalo Sabres
For the first time in his NHL career, Thomas Vanek wore a letter on his sweater when he served as an alternate captain for the Sabres in Wednesday’s win over Atlanta.  Vanek, Jason Pominville and Paul Gaustad each wore an “A” last night, and Head Coach Lindy Ruff said that for the time being, the three “A’s” would be rotated among Vanek, Pominville, Gaustad and Jochen Hecht.

Thomas Vanek (Photo: Bill Wippert)
Video: Thomas Vanek
“I just think it’s time for Thomas to be that leader, be recognized.  It’s the point of his career where he’s our leading scorer and you hear his voice in the room now, and I think it’s important that some of the leadership falls on his shoulders,” Ruff said of his decision to name Vanek an alternate captain.

Vanek said it was an honor to be given the designation, but that it would not change his approach to playing the game.

“I’ve never been much of a ‘rah-rah’ guy, but I try to lead on the ice, score some goals and get some points and get this team in the playoffs,” he said of his leadership style.  “I try to work hard in practice, show up every day and be a professional.  It’s got to come on the ice first I feel like. Words can only go so far, I think you have to show it and have guys follow you.”

The 27-year-old Vanek has spent his entire career with the Sabres and is in his sixth season with the team.  His 51 points (22 goals, 29 assists) lead the team and rank 25th in the NHL.  He is three points shy of topping his point total from all of last season and his 29 assists are the most he’s had in one year since the 2006-07 campaign. 

“I welcome it. I have no problem with having (the “A”) and it’s not going to change the way I approach the game or approach the room,” he said.

After placing defenseman and team captain Craig Rivet on waivers yesterday, Sabres General Manager Darcy Regier informed the media after Thursday’s practice that Rivet has cleared waivers and would be assigned to Buffalo’s American Hockey League affiliate, the Portland Pirates.  However, Regier also said the team intended to place Rivet on re-entry waivers tomorrow, which would give the veteran another chance at being claimed by an NHL team.

2/24 - Darcy Regier Interview

“Craig Rivet cleared waivers and he will be assigned to Portland, but we will continue to work to try and get him playing somewhere in the National Hockey League and allow him to continue his career,” Regier said.  “He’ll go on (re-entry waivers) at noon tomorrow (Friday) and would clear the following day, and we’ll go from there.”

Rivet, who is in his 16th NHL season and third with the Sabres, has not played since Jan. 11 and has appeared in just 23 games for Buffalo this season.  He is looking for an opportunity to play with another team.

“It’s tough because I don’t want to leave here.  We’ve got a super bunch of guys in this room and everybody in this organization has been fantastic. It makes for a difficult decision, but for me, I feel that I can play in this league.  If it’s not going to be here, then I need to give myself an opportunity to play someplace else,” Rivet said of his decision to ask to be moved.

Ryan Miller made a season-high 40 saves in Wednesday’s win over Atlanta and lowered his goals-against average over the last four games to 1.78 while his save percentage in that span rose to .947. 

“I think he’s feeling a lot better about his game.  I thought last night he was a difference-maker in the game,” Ruff said.  “A couple shorthanded situations where it could’ve went the other way, the tide could’ve changed in the game, and he made the big saves for us.”

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