Ales Kotalik is intent on proving to the Sabres that his NHL career is not over.
The winger, who has struggled in his two seasons since leaving Buffalo, vows to show folks during training camp that he belongs with the Sabres, not in the AHL with the Amerks.
"Absolutely, I want to stay in Buffalo," Kotalik told The News by phone from the Czech Republic. "I'm coming to training camp with an open mind. I know that I can measure with anybody on that team. I can measure myself up with any guy on that squad, on that team, and I hope I will get the opportunity that I need. Everything else is up to me."
Kotalik broke the 20-goal barrier three times in his seven seasons with the Sabres, but he has just 22 goals in the 116 games since. He spent half of last season playing for Calgary's minor-league team.
"I'm excited coming over to see all the people I missed for two years," said Kotalik, who was shipped by Buffalo to Edmonton at the 2009 trade deadline. "When I heard that I was part of the trade with Robyn Regehr, at first I didn't know what to think. Then I got a call from [General Manager] Darcy [Regier] and [owner] Terry [Pegula], and they told me that they took me for a reason. They still think that I can play.
"I'm excited. It feels like I'm at home, and hopefully I can prove to everybody who had doubts about me that I can still play and be a good player for that team."