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keeping alive her
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BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Sabres general manager Tim Murray couldnt get through explaining how popular Buffalo is as a free-agent destination without his cellphone ringing on Tuesday. Stopping in midsentence after making a flurry of moves in opening the NHLs signing period, Murray checked his phone, smiled and said: "I should take that call." He didnt. But the timing was perfect in emphasizing Murrays point. Whatever laughingstock reputation that Sabres established in being the leagues worst team last season certainly didnt reflect in how popular they were among established free agents. "It just shows you that there are quality players that want to come here," Murray said. "Ive thought that all along, but youre never sure until the clock hits 12. And there were more (interested) than what we got done." Overseeing his first free-agency frenzy since taking over in January, Murray added depth and experience to a young, patchwork roster that contributed to one of the Sabres worst seasons in franchise history. Buffalo (21-51-10) set a franchise record for losses and established a post-NHL-expansion-era low by scoring just 150 goals. In a matter of four hours, Murray changed the teams outlook by committing a combined $46.375 million in salaries to fill various leadership and offensive needs by signing four free agents, including former Montreal Canadiens captain Brian Gionta. He also acquired veteran defenceman Josh Gorges, who adjusted his no-trade clause to add Buffalo, in a deal with Montreal. And he also re-signed forward Marcus Foligno, a restricted free agent, to a two-year $3.75 million contract. "This changes the mindset is what it changes," Murray said. "I still dont consider us a contending team by any means. But now the players may think differently. And thats good." Though forward Matt Moulson, who signed a five-year, $25 million contract, was the Sabres priciest addition, Gionta was the centerpiece. At 35, Gionta is a consistent two-way forward and respected leader, whose presence is expected to resonate on a young and developing team. From nearby Rochester, Gionta signed a three-year, $12.75 million deal. Murray is already envisioning the impact Gionta can make among players, including centre Sam Reinhart, who was selected with the No. 2 pick in the draft last weekend. "Yesterday, he was the captain of the Montreal Canadiens, a storied franchise, a playoff team. That wasnt a token title. That was real," Murray said of Gionta. "Theres something obviously intangible that you cant measure with a yard stick, with analytics, with anything like that, and he has it in spades." Gorges, a nine-year NHL veteran, also has leadership potential and is regarded as someone capable of grooming Buffalos young crop of blue-liners. "Hes heart and soul," said Murray, who gave up a 2016 second-round pick to acquire Gorges. "He blocks shots. Hes the type of player that can wear a letter. Hes definitely part of the leadership group." Moulson, a seven-year NHL veteran and a three-time 30-goal scorer, rejoins the Sabres after a brief four-month stint in Buffalo last season. Acquired by the Sabres in a trade that sent Thomas Vanek to the New York Islanders in October, Moulson was then dealt to the Minnesota Wild at the trade deadline in March. Moulson was expendable in Buffalo because he was in the final year of his contract. And yet he enjoyed his brief time with the team to come back. The Sabres also signed defenceman Andrej Meszaros to a one-year, $4.125 million contract, and gritty forward Cody McCormick to a three-year, $4.5 million deal. McCormick is a former Sabres player, who was traded in the deal with Moulson to Minnesota. As for Meszaros, hes a nine-year NHL veteran who has had difficulty finding his niche after splitting the past six seasons between three teams, including the Philadelphia Flyers and Boston Bruins last year. Murray, who previously worked for the Senators, is familiar with Meszaros from when the defenceman was in Ottawa. Murray believes the former first-round draft pick can regain the steady form he had in Ottawa, when he combined for 26 goals and 110 points in 246 games. The additions gave Murray reason to be hopeful regarding the teams future. "We can say its a team on the rise. People have to see that, Murray said, including the Sabres youngsters. "I think our kids are sitting at home, going, Wow!" Cheap Nike Vapormax Canada . The top-ranked Williams carried her winning momentum from 2013 into the new season, beating No. 2-ranked Victoria Azarenka 6-4, 7-5 on Saturday to defend her title at the Brisbane International and set the tone for the Australian Open. 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The sixth-seeded Sharapova needed a little over an hour and a half to defeat her fellow Russian, keeping alive her dream of winning the tournament for the third year in a row. Polish world No. 3 Radwanska was rarely troubled in wrapping up a 6-3, 6-2 win over Italys Roberta Vinci. Svetlana Kuznetsova of Russia rallied from a 5-2 first-set deficit to edge second seed Simona Halep of Romania 7-5, 7-6 (4) in thee late match.dddddddddddd The 2009 champion will next play former No. 1 Ana Ivanovic, who lost her first set against German wild card Julia Goerges, but recovered to prevail 1-6, 6-2, 6-3. Carla Suarez Navarro upset the fourth-seeded Angelique Kerber 7-5, 6-4 to knock the last remaining German out of the tournament. The world No. 16 next faces Estonias Kaia Kanepi on Friday. Fifth seed Jelena Jankovic rallied after losing the first set to beat Flavia Pennetta of Italy 3-6, 6-2, 6-3 for a quarterfinal against Alisa Kleybanova, who upset the third-seeded Petra Kvitova on Wednesday. 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