Buffalo has been known as the trading hot-spot of the HFNHL world ever since GM Joshua Pitt arrived from Australia (of all places) at the start of the 2001-02 season. After making an HFNHL record 36 deals in his 1st season, things started to take shape, and consequently slow down. Since the lockout however, the Sabres had been almost silent, popping up occasionally to draft a few top 10 picks and sign a veteran minor leaguer to fill in as Dwayne Roloson's backup. Some even started to question whether Pitt still had the time and the heart to run the organisation. "I did a lot of searching and finding myself." Pitt said. "I wasn't quite running out on the team Ricky Williams style, but work was killing me, and had been for some time. I had to take a step back for a while and run on cruise. The good news is that the foundation is already set, and I have some good people around me within the orgnaisation, and they just kept the motor running nicely until I got back." The Sabres got off to a woeful start, in which they started the season 3-9-1. Toiling near the bottom of the Standings in the East, the coaching staff made a few major changes to the linups, insterting Briere and Hartnell on a line with Nash (instead of Bates and Ruutu, who were placed on the 2nd line next to Frolov). The lineup seemed to work as the Sabres started playing .500 hockey against one of the toughest 1st half schedules in the league. However it was a minor move that really got the Sabres going. After switching Fata to the 2nd line to replace Ruutu, the Sabres have gone 8-3-2, and now sit 2 points above .500 for the season, a massive improvement from the beginning, and have regularly been scalping playoff teams, including the likes of Detroit, St.Louis Montreal etc. So with Pitt returning to the scene full time, what better way to announce it than to do so with a big name trade? The swap? The Sabres sent high profile prospect Ryan Whitney and #4 overall pick (in the recent 2005 draft) Gilbert Brule along with a 4th rounder in this years draft to the LA Kings in exchange for Olli Jokinen, Mikka Noronen and Columbus' 2nd rounder in the draft. It's a massive trade for both teams. The Kings get a pair of kids that they can build around for the future, and the Sabres get the perfect kind of player for an emerging squad. One that's just entering his prime, is still cheap, and fits in with the team's style of play. Noronen finally gives the team someone who can give Roloson a rest, and someone who can back-up Miller in the coming years. "I love Olli's game." Pitt said. "He's big, strong and skilled, he works hard and is a great guy for the locker room...what's not there to like? The only downside was what we gave up. Gilbert is a great kid, and everybody knows how much of a soft spot I had for Whitney." Rumour had it that the Sabres were going to hand Jokinen the captaincy, but Pitt dispelled the rumour quickly. "Scotty (Hartnell) has been our captain all season, and has been amazing so far. He's been our runaway leader in +/- and is a tremendous leader on and off the ice. He really took a lot in from Adam (Deadmarsh) when he was captain, before his career was tragically cut short and it shows in the way he carries himself around the guys and within the community. Scott (Hannan) and Shawn (Bates) have really been tremendous in supporting him." Its hard to say where Jokkinen will play this season. with the team playing so well, Pitt will be reluctant to break up the top 2 lines. We may in fact see him with Vasicek and Ruutu on the 3rd line until he settles in. Any way you look at it, The Sabres are going to be a bit tougher to deal with this season. And with Tyutin and Ryan Miller due to arrive next season, they're only going to get tougher! one rumour to keep an eye out for. The sabres are supposed to be considering shopping All-Star D-man Sergei Zubov, and one or both of Cliff Ronning and Shawn Bates up front in the hope to get a decent defenseman with a longer term deal. A cup contender may be able to swoop 1 (or all 3) up for a very cheap price if the piece is right. Whether that is true or not remains to be seen, but it does mean that buffalo is no longer a boring place to be! That's all...for now Buffalo Bill Hockey Editor for The Buffalo News.