December 18, 1998 -- The Sabres seem to have many of the pieces in place for a run at the Stanley Cup during the 1998-99 season. There was only one missing: Donald Audette.
The feisty winger was a holdout throughout training camp and the early part of the season. The drama ended when Audette was finally dealt ... in mid-December.
The veteran Sabre went to the Los Angeles Kings for a second-round draft choice, ending a nine-year stay with the team. Audette agreed to a two-year contract with Los Angeles worth a reported $3.6 million.
"I'm happy now," Audette said. "I got what I wanted. I understand what the Sabres were doing. They stood their ground. I'm just disappointed it took so long. They had a job to do; I had a job to do."
Audette finished the season with 36 points in 49 games with the Kings. Meanwhile, Sabre teammates were quietly upset that the team didn't get any immediate help in their bid for a title that season. As it was, Buffalo lost to Dallas in six games in the Stanley Cup Final. Could Audette have made a difference? We'll never know.
--- Budd Bailey