Sabres face uncertain future in 2010

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Forward Maxim Afinogenov thinks it's time
he sought a fresh start after nine seasons in Buffalo, while
defenseman Teppo Numminen hasn't made any decision as to whether
he'll retire after completing his 20th NHL campaign.

Those were among the notable developments on Monday after Sabres
players met for the final time two days after finishing their
season and missing the playoffs for a second straight year. Buffalo
(41-32-9) finished 10th in the Eastern Conference, two points out
of contention.

Afinogenov all but assured reporters he won't be back now that
he's eligible to become a free agent this summer, and following a
season in which he was sparingly used when healthy.

"It's probably better for me to move on and find myself
somewhere else," Afinogenov said. "The last two years have been
going nowhere for me and for the team also. I think something new
should be next year."

Buffalo's third-round pick in the 1997 draft, Afinogenov is the
current team's longest-serving member, and completed one of his
worst statistical seasons. In 48 games, he finished with six goals
and 14 assists for 20 points, his lowest total in a year in which
Afinogenov played more than half a season.

The Sabres haven't discussed their offseason plans, but it's
likely Afinogenov won't be part of them considering the team
attempted to trade him last summer. He was also in and out of the
lineup as a healthy scratch over the final month after missing 24
games with a groin injury.

"Ten years: I had some bumps and I had some good times. But it
was real nice," he said.

Afinogenov is a three-time 20 goal-scorer, and enjoyed his most
productive years in the two seasons following the NHL lockout that
wiped out the entire 2004-05 season. He combined for 47 goals and
134 points in helping the Sabres reach the Eastern Conference
finals in 2006 and '07.

Numminen, meanwhile, said he's not going to rush into any
decision about his future. The 40-year-old completed his one-year
contract, appearing in 57 games a year after missing all but one
game after having surgery to repair a faulty heart valve.

"I don't intend anything. I just intend to take a little
vacation, go home, see the kids," Numminen said. "So it's too
early to say."

The first step will be consulting with doctors at The Cleveland
Clinic, where he had his operation in September 2007.

With 1,372 games played, the Finnish-born Numminen holds the NHL
record for most games by a European-developed player.

He had two goals and 15 assists in 57 games this season, his
fourth with Buffalo, and that included an assist in the Sabres
season finale, a 6-1 win over Boston on Saturday.

Following the game and after he had changed into his street
clothes, Numminen took a few minutes to stand at the Sabres bench
with his three children while his wife videotaped them.

Numminen explained he wanted to enjoy the moment with his
family, especially if that proved to be his final game.

"Well, with the condition I have, you never know if it's the
end," Numminen said.

Sabres forward Derek Roy's hockey season isn't over. He has
accepted an invitation to play for Team Canada at the upcoming
World Championships in Switzerland. The Canadian team will be
headed by Sabres coach Lindy Ruff.

Goaltender Ryan Miller said he's turned down an invitation to
play for Team USA to rest a sprained left ankle that forced him to
miss 13 games this season. Miller said he returned before the
injury had completely healed, noting the ankle bothered him in the
final three games.