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Miroslav a mark on Sather's record

Jim Matheson
Around the NHL
Edmonton

Glen Sather's closet is full of nice suits, but there is also the odd skeleton in there. For instance the one named Miroslav Satan.

Sather had a great run at the trading table last winter getting Roman Hamrlik and Bill Guerin during a two-week period. And before that it is mind-boggling to think he stole Curtis Joseph from the Blues for Shayne Corson during Mike Keenan's reign of error in St. Louis.

But like all GMs, if you pick up the phone often enough you are bound to make the odd mistake.

Dealing Satan for defenceman Craig Millar and winger Barrie Moore stands out as a doozie.

Satan is on his way to scoring 35 goals in Buffalo.

Would he look good here?

Does Slats wish he hadn't called his old right-hand man John Muckler two years ago next month, a day or so after Satan's agent Rich Winter asked if maybe they could move his guy? Absolutely. Sather doesn't deny it.

There are two schools of thought on why Sather has stuck with the hard-skating but offensively challenged Dean McAmmond for six years, but traded a kid with nice, soft hands.

They are economics, or his coach Ron Low wasn't sold on Satan. Which it is depends who you're talking to.

Either way, the Oilers would die to have his 27 goals on the left side of their No. 1 line rather than see Miro there with Michal Grosek and Curtis Brown tonight. He's not trying to stick it to anybody here, but last March he also got the only Sabres goal in a 1-0 Dominik Hasek shutout.

"You make trades ... the more you make, some don't turn out," said Sather, who only took about a day to deal Satan.

"Millar can play in the NHL, for sure. I've had calls from other teams about him. Miro? He had ability with us but he wasn't playing all that much. But there was another part of the agenda. They were talking about him going back home (over his contract). The ultimate thing is, it's my decision to trade a guy, nobody else's."

Low says it was more economics than statistics that sent the Slovak winger on his way.

"At one point when Miro was a two-year pro there was a problem with money, I think," said Low.

Satan doesn't buy that. His agent Winter says money wasn't the issue.

"He's not a greedy guy. How much were we going to get ... what, $1 million a year for 29 points or so?

"Maybe Glen was concerned because we kept getting one-year deals, but I basically think it was a case where it just wasn't a fit here," said Winter.

Low admits Satan had tons of talent.

"He could always score but he was a very streaky scorer. We've got streaky scorers here too, but they're all streaking the wrong way. Miro's become a lot more complete player there than here, like a lot of young players," said Low.

Sabres GM Darcy Regier says Satan has improved by becoming a grittier player.

"He was getting points last year but he's taken his game inside. Because of that he's been given more responsibility. He's more involved in the fabric of the games," said Regier.

Satan says Low and he weren't on the same wave length.

"He wasn't confident in me and I wasn't able to convince him to be that way. Once you get an opinion about somebody it's hard to change them.

"I wanted more of a role on the team. But here I was just fixing the holes. It was an okay relationship with the coach but I felt I needed a fresh start."

So he went to Buffalo.

And Satan, who had nine points in 14 playoff games last spring, is the Sabres' best shooter. Maybe their best player after Hasek and Michael Peca.

Regier, who took over for Muckler, isn't sowing any gloats.

"With young players there's a window of opportunity, especially ones with skill. You don't know if you'll be able to help them find the switch in time before the window closes. Some make it, some don't ... some just squeeze through and that's the game we all play."