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by Erin Pollina / Buffalo Sabres
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Perhaps no one was more excited to see forward Rob Niedermayer arrive at HSBC Arena on Friday morning than Craig Rivet, as veterans reported for training camp.

“I’m happy that I don’t look like the oldest guy on the team now,” he laughed. “It makes me feel good.”

But at the age of 36 years old, Rivet is one of the most seasoned players on the team. And after recovering this summer from offseason shoulder surgery, thoughts about his future admittedly entered his mind.

“Well at my age, obviously getting the surgery done and putting in a really good summer of training, [you think] this could be my last year so you want to go out playing the best you can,” he said. “You never know. At my age, you just never know. I want to put my best foot forward this year and play well for this hockey team and have a good year.”

While retiring could be a possibility in the future, Rivet said he is more concerned about the Sabres’ immediate needs and the upcoming season – which is why he is going to take it slow as on-ice sessions begin.

“We’re just going to start with tomorrow and the first week, trying to slowly get into a bit of contact – maybe not hitting and stuff but pushing and lifting guys’ sticks,” he said. “We’re just going to watch it closely. I’m going to have close contact with Dr. Bisson and we’ll go from there.”

Rivet underwent the procedure in May, to correct a nagging injury that plagued him for much of the 2009-10 season. While he conceded that the shoulder is not yet at 100 percent, the defenseman was pleased to report that after a steady rehab, he is ahead of the curve.

“We’re at about four months [into recovery] right now and it’s an injury that typically everybody takes about four to six months [to heal],” he said. “When you’re a professional hockey player sometimes they like to give you a little bit more time because you’re going to be out battling and stuff. But for the most part I’m pretty happy with the way things have progressed and we’re just going to keep on working at it.

"I put the work in this summer, my body feels great and I feel like I’m 20 years old."

Rivet played 78 games for the Sabres in the 2009-10 season, registering 16 points (2+14), including a score in the playoffs. He, and the Sabres, will be participating in Saturday’s 2010 Puck Drop festivities at HSBC Arena. The day-long event features an open practice, jersey unveiling and various family activities. Click here for more information.
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