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Sabres Sign Barnes to Extension

January 16, 2002

BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) _ Buffalo Sabres captain Stu Barnes agreed to a three-year contract extension Tuesday that will keep him from becoming an unrestricted free agent at the end of this season.

The $8.4 million deal makes Barnes the third-highest paid player on the team. The extension, averaging out to nearly $2.8 million per year, is a hefty raise for Barnes, who is making a $1.6 million base salary this season.

Locking in Barnes is a significant move for Sabres general manager Darcy Regier, who has had trouble re-signing veterans in the past.

``I think that’s part of who Stu is,″ Regier said. ``It is satisfying because it’s not just about being able to get a player signed. It’s to get someone of Stu’s quality signed.

``Since joining the team, he has been one of our team leaders on and off the ice. And we look forward to more great things from him over the next three seasons.″

Barnes had no regrets in relinquishing his free-agent rights, saying he enjoys living and playing in Buffalo.

``We started talking earlier in the season about possibly getting something done and I was very excited about that,″ said Barnes, in Anaheim where the Sabres are preparing for Wednesday’s game against the Mighty Ducks. ``I think we’ve got some great young players on this team and we’re really going to improve every year.″

The forward was chosen as captain at the start of this season. He replaced Michael Peca, who sat out all of last season because of a contract dispute and was eventually traded to the New York Islanders in a draft-day deal last June.

In 45 games this season, Barnes is second on the team with 13 goals and 31 points, and also has scored three game-winners.

In his third full season with the Sabres, Barnes also has proven to be a solid playoff performer, with 14 goals and 21 points in 39 postseason games.

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