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12-16-2011, 10:55 AM
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Tim Connolly, the injury-plagued veteran deemed expendable by Buffalo over the summer, comes back to his old stomping grounds on a roll, having scored both goals in the Leafs’ 2-1 victory over the Carolina Hurricanes on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, Leino, the youngster Sabres owner Terry Pegula shelled out gobs of cash for during the off-season, is believed to have injured his foot or lower leg against the Ottawa Senators on Tuesday and will be out “for weeks,” according to the Sabres.

That is the same Ville Leino who was brought in to augment a Sabres forward unit that no longer had room for Tim Connolly.

Keep in mind that, at least on paper, this was not two teams trading a pair of players for each other.

At the same time, it was the Sabres organization that decided to woo Leino as part of a housecleaning that left Connolly on the outside looking in. It was their choice.

Buffalo’s logic, at least in the minds of coach Lindy Ruff and GM Darcy Regier, seemed sound.

At 28, Leino was two years younger than Connolly. He seemed more durable, too. And, truth be told, Connolly’s penchant for ending up in the trainer’s room made him one of the biggest scapegoats this side of Scott Norwood in the eyes of the fine citizens of Buffalo.

Yet, after just 30 games of the new season, things have not gone to plan for the limping Sabres.

With heavy expectations heaped on him because of his whopping contract, Leino, who was signed as a centre, registered just two points in his first eight games before requesting to be shifted back to the wing, where he played last season with the Flyers. All the while, critics wondered why a six-year, $27-million US deal was given to a guy who had just 30 career NHL goals.
“He was starting to heat up a bit with five points in seven games before the injury,” coach Lindy Ruff said on Thursday. “That’s what we figured we were getting when we signed him: A five-points-in-seven games guy.

“That’s what he is. He’s not going to get you 100 points. But we liked his puck-possession skills and thought he’d be good at getting pucks to our scorers.”

With Leino having recorded just 10 points in 29 games, Ruff figures the former Flyer was trying too hard to live up to his contract, an ailment shared by another big-name free agent pickup, defenceman Christian Ehrhoff.

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