By Budd Bailey, Buffalo Sports Page

No. 35: June 24, 2001The Sabres trade Michael Peca to the New York Islanders for Tim Connolly and Taylor Pyatt.

Michael Peca and the Sabres had been a good match early in his career. The center might have been the proverbial heart of the teams that won the division title in 1997 and reached the Stanley Cup finals in 1999. “Captain Crunch” won the Selke Trophy as the league’s best defensive forward in 1997.

However, the marriage did not last forever. Money got in the way during a contract dispute, and Peca sat out an entire season as he waited for an offer at a certain amount that never came. Finally and almost mercifully, the Sabres sent Peca to the Islanders for a pair of promising young players, Tim Connolly and Taylor Pyatt. Under the circumstances, it was considered a good deal for the Sabres, but also rather sad.

The transaction action didn’t work out too well for anyone. Peca had a career year with 60 points in 2001-02, but he was off the Island by 2004 and played for three other teams in four years. Connolly was considered a great young talent at the time, but a series of injuries that included concussion issues never allowed him to live up to his potential. Pyatt never had more than 28 points in a season as a Sabre. He went on to play 13 years in the NHL.

(Follow Budd on Twitter @WDX2BB)

Budd Bailey

Budd Bailey has been involved in almost every aspect of the local sports scene for the last 40 years. He worked for WEBR Radio, the Buffalo Sabres' public relations department and The Buffalo News during that time. In that time he covered virtually every aspect of the area's sports world, from high schools to the Bills and Sabres and everything in between. Along the way, Budd served as a play-by-play announcer for the Bisons, an analyst for the Stallions, and a talk-show host. He won the National Lacrosse League's Tom Borrelli Award as the media personality of the year in 2011, and was a finalist for that same award in 2017. Budd's seventh and eighth books, one on the Transcontinental Railroad and the other about Ichiro Suzuki, are scheduled to be released in the fall.

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