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by Erin Pollina / Buffalo Sabres
Craig Rivet (Photo: Bill WIppert)
If being traded to Buffalo this summer came as a shock to Craig Rivet, he certainly didn’t see this move coming.

Lindy Ruff: Audio | Video
Craig Rivet: Audio | Video

Three months after being dealt from the San Jose Sharks, the veteran defenseman became the 23rd player in franchise history to be named captain of the Buffalo Sabres.

“I’m obviously a little bit surprised, I’m new to the team and new to the organization,” Rivet said. “There are a lot of players that have been brought up together and it’s a real tight family… I’m really happy to be part of it right now.”

Rivet is the first full-time captain of the team since 2003, when Stu Barnes sported the letter. Since then, Head Coach Lindy Ruff has opted to rotate monthly, as he did in 2003-04 and 2007-08, or use co-captains as he did from 2005-07 with Chris Drury and Daniel Briere.

Ruff said while he was an advocate of both systems, the decision came down to the team who voted on having a permanent fixture.

“The players showed a lot of instant respect for him and what he’s done,” Ruff said. “Was I a little bit surprised? Yeah. I’ve liked, and loved actually, what he’s done in practice and games. But to come in and garner that much respect and trust from his teammates in a short period of time… it says a lot.”

Take a look at the History of the Buffalo Sabres Captaincy. There have been 23 players, including Rivet, to wear the "C,"

Some of that approval may have been gained during Rivet’s first exhibition game with the team. Not only was he awarded with the ‘A’ in the contest against the Maple Leafs, but he also battled Ryan Hollweg midway through the first period after he felt a late jab was thrown in front of the net.

Standing up for his teammate undoubtedly sent a message in the locker room.

“I’ve said all along first of all [a captain has] to be the guy you want to follow on the ice,” Ruff said. “His actions on the ice dictate more than what he can say in the room. There are different types of captain and I think Craig is going to be a great captain for this hockey team. He’s got good character. He’s going to be right there for his teammates.”

Initially, Rivet was not keen on the idea of coming to the Sabres. After being traded to the Sharks in 2007, the defenseman thought he had found a permanent home in San Jose. Learning he had been dealt to Buffalo on July 4, the 34-year-old was disgruntled having to move his family again.

“But it wasn’t anything to do with Buffalo,” Rivet said. “We’ve put all that behind us now. My family, and myself, we’re extremely happy to be part of this organization. We’re very settled. I think Buffalo gets a bad rap and once you get here you realize how great this city is.”

Rivet has previously served as an alternate captain for San Jose as well as the Montreal Canadiens. The Sabres take on The Habs Friday night at HSBC Arena in the season opener.

“We’re going to be playing one of the best teams in the league in our very first game,” Rivet said of his former team. “It’s going to be great to see where we stand against the best. I think we’re right there.

“Its giving me chills thinking about it already.”

Ruff also named four alternate captains - Teppo Numminen, Jaroslav Spacek, Jochen Hecht and Jason Pominville – who will rotate the ‘A’ for home and away games. No details were provided as to how the four players would be designated.

The 34-year-old Rivet was acquired from San Jose on July 4, along with the Sharks’ seventh round pick in the 2010 Entry Draft, in exchange for Buffalo’s second round picks in the 2009 and 2010 Entry Draft.  

Originally selected by Montreal in the third round (68th overall) of the 1992 Entry Draft, Rivet has 194 points (45+149) in 744 career games, along with 911 PIMs.

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