'Yesterday's deal cost the Islanders two of their best young players, center Tim Connolly and left wing Taylor Pyatt, both of their high first-round picks from the 1999 draft.'
'"We had a year's history of offers for Michael Peca," said Sabres GM Darcy Regier, a former Islanders assistant. "This was as good as we were going to get, in our opinion, unless we pushed it all the way through the summer."'
'"Obviously, with the addition of Yashin," Peca said, "we're going to be a team that's going to be more than just a little bit competitive next year."'
'But how could anyone be excited about being traded to a team that hasn't made the playoffs in seven years?'
'Buffalo Sabres general manager Darcy Regier, as decent a man as there is in NHL management circles, choked up while announcing the trade of former captain Michael Peca to the New York Islanders yesterday, a reflection of both pride in his own organization for seeing a gut-wrenching process to the end and hurt over being publicly portrayed as a villain bent on injuring a young athlete's career and family.'
'After sitting out a year, Mike Peca may have gone to a worse fate: He's now a New York Islander.'
'The deal reportedly is delayed by the lack of assurance from Hasek he will play two more years in the NHL. It is widely speculated that he plans to retire after the Olympics in February.'
'Sabres general manager Darcy Regier said he was never trying to be vindictive in his contract battle with Peca, though those allegations were made by Peca and his agent, Don Meehan. Regier said he was simply trying to protect the Sabres.'
'"It's very rare that I'm at a loss for words, but the only thing I can say is that this is just great," said Peca. "I was close to tears (Saturday) because I knew some of the offers (Buffalo had received) and I didn't think it was going to happen."'
'Asked if it was the best deal Buffalo could get, he replied, "That's a good question. Given the deals that were on the table yesterday, you really had to take a step back and wonder what they were doing by not seriously considering some of the [other] offers. . . . Some of the other offers out there were as good as the Islander offer, or perhaps better, depending on people's opinions. These were offers that were serious. They weren't marginal offers at all. There were a lot of teams that really wanted Michael Peca."'
'"I think nothing more than at some point in time, it became personal, and they wanted to teach Michael Peca a lesson," Meehan said yesterday. "I guess they are part of the dynamics of our game today, but in my view this was totally unnecessary."'
'They're not the best of buddies — Milbury fired Regier after taking over as Islanders GM — but in this case, Milbury had the best cards to play. He obtained Peca and Yashin without giving up his best winger, Brad Isbister.'
'WINNER: The Sabres did fine without Peca last season, they might do even better next season with Connolly and Pyatt.'
'"There are a lot of things we have to look at, but for now, we feel very strongly about these two young players we've acquired," Regier said. "The forward position is an issue for us and we feel we've acquired a tremendous playmaking center in Connolly and a strong left wing in Pyatt, who is only 19 and playing in the NHL. "They're going to be helping us for a long, long time."'
'Regier said, "I don't have a bitter bone in my body over this situation. I never have."'