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by Kevin Sylvester / Buffalo Sabres
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It’s great news to hear that Mike Grier will be back on the ice for the Sabres this season.  I knew about it late last week and couldn’t wait for the official announcement.  Grier is the consummate professional.  He does all the right things day in and day out.  He commands respect.  He’s a leader that doesn’t need a letter on his chest for everyone to know it. 

Chris Drury received a ton of credit for the back-to-back Eastern Conference Finals appearances, and deservedly so.  One of the things that was often mentioned was his attention to preparation in practice and on game days.  It rubbed off on the entire team.  Drury was not alone.  His close friend, Mike Grier, was also a big part of that.  Grier has the same work ethic and dedication and that should rub off again. 

I don’t expect big numbers from Grier, but he could reach double digits in goals as he did with San Jose 2 of the last 3 years.  What he will do is provide some needed size up front on the Right Wing, give Lindy Ruff another penalty killer, and more options for his lines.  As a matter of fact, try putting line combinations together right now and you’ll see there are plenty of options for Ruff.  My example below doesn’t have Clarke MacArthur, Matt Ellis, Nathan Gerbe, or Tim Kennedy in there. 

Line 1:          26     9     21 (when Stafford signs)
Line 2           55     19    29

Line 3           20      28    25 (Grier)

Line 4           22      #(McCormick)   36   

I put together the most skilled and biggest lineup I could think of in just a few minutes.  Further examination would elicit more combinations with some players in different positions.  You could also imagine Grier having a more prominent role on the first line with Vanek and Roy.  He would create a little more room for both, and remember Roy played on the same line with Grier in the 2006 playoffs.  Then where would you put Stafford?  Perhaps left wing with Connolly and Pominville?  Then you have Hecht to play with Paul Gaustad and ??   I could continue, but I think you get the idea. 

The final thing I wish to point out with the Mike Grier signing is that free agency didn’t end on July 1st.  There are still players out there and moves to be made by several clubs.  So stayed tuned.
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