Sabres center Connolly likely to miss start of season

Updated: September 14, 2006, 3:21 PM ET
Associated Press

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Sabres center Tim Connolly will likely miss the start of the season because he's still experiencing post-concussion symptoms after being hurt during the playoffs.

Buffalo Sabres

63 16 39 55 5 28

Sabres general manager Darcy Regier said Thursday that Connolly's condition is gradually improving, but he hasn't been cleared to skate in training camp. Buffalo's first full-team practice will be Friday.

Regier said there's "a good possibility" the play-making center will open the regular season on long-term injured reserve, which would prevent Connolly from playing in the first 10 games.

"Indications are he's going to get better but the timing of it is still up in the air," Regier said. "Talking to specialists, we knew it was going to require more time and we'll just be patient and wait and see."

Connolly reported for camp-opening physicals, but left before reporters arrived at 9 a.m.

He has been out since he was caught with his head down and failed to avoid a clean check by Peter Schaefer in the opening minute of Game 2 of Buffalo's second-round series against Ottawa in May.

It is the second serious concussion sustained by Connolly during his six-year NHL career. The first one forced him to miss the entire 2003-04 season.

Connolly's uncertain status is a significant setback for the Sabres, who were confident enough in the player's health to sign him to a three-year, $8.7 million guaranteed deal in July.

The deal was in part a reward for Connolly, who is coming off a career-best year. He finished fifth on the team with 16 goals and 39 assists and added five goals and six assists in eight playoff games.

Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press