Despite not making the playoffs in 2001-02, the Buffalo Sabres were one of the better teams in the NHL over the second half of last season. Strong offensive years from Satan, Stu Barnes and Tim Connolly as well as the emergence of Taylor Pyatt late in the year were just a few of the bright spots of the season. Plus, the emergence of Biron as one of the league's top goaltenders gave fans much to look forward to in the coming years.
Ruff became the Buffalo Sabres' all-time winningest head coach with a 5-2 win over Philadelphia on Feb. 18, 2003. Ales Kotalik broke onto the scene by scoring 21 goals, the second most by a rookie in 2002-03 while Satan once again led the Buffalo Sabres in goals, assists and points. B. Thomas Golisano became the Buffalo Sabres' owner in March and brought a new enthusiasm level to the franchise. The acquisitions of Daniel Briere (at the 2002-03 trade deadline), Chris Drury, Steve Begin and Andy Delmore, along with the signing of Joel Bouchard, have raised expectations for the 2003-04 campaign.
The 2003-04 Buffalo Sabres once again were one of the League’s top teams in the second half of the season. Daniel Briere, who came to the club near the end of the 2002-03 season, continued his outstanding play and led the Buffalo Sabres in assists and points. Dumont and Chris Drury were threats to score while Satan recorded a team-best 29 goals, including four against Atlanta on Feb. 16, 2004. Satan and Maxim Afinogenov each had a hat trick against Washington, Dec. 31, 2003. Rookies Derek Roy, Milan Bartovic and Andrew Peters each had long stints with the Buffalo Sabres, who played in front of 12 sold-out home crowds.