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Letters / Our readers speak out

Humble group not far from Cup

Buffalo is a special city.

How personally satisfying it could have been for Jay McKee, Mike Grier and J.P. Dumont. McKee, the solid defenseman who missed Game Seven in 2006 with a staph infection. Grier, the ever-effective forechecker at last getting a Stanley Cup title, and J.P. Dumont, the sometimes spectacular scorer and emotional playoff performer sharing with his friends and teammates the ultimate hockey achievement.

These three, very aware of Buffalo's status as an elite team with an outstanding chance to win a Stanley Cup, left without thinking twice, to Anywhere, USA.

Through it all, Buffalo, the city, always remains hopeful, devoted and patient. While these athletes chase their own personal agendas, we Buffalonians remain united and ready to cheer. A humble group that stays put long enough to give the city the championship that it deserves isn't too far away.

Mike Ciko

Lackawanna

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NHL didn't want Sabres to advance

As the Buffalo Sabres were eliminated from the Stanley Cup playoffs, I couldn't help but think this is exactly how the league wanted it played.

During the Buffalo Sabres-Ottawa Senators series, I had a sinking feeling for the first time in 37 years as a Sabres fan that the outcome was being predetermined. When the refs called two blatantly obvious phantom penalties late in a period that gave Ottawa a two-man advantage, the refs changed the complexion of the game, allowing Ottawa to score. Any true, honest hockey fan who watched that game will admit those two penalties were bogus.

When Daniel Alfredsson maliciously shoved Henrik Tallinder's head into the boards, there wasn't even a penalty called. The league couldn't risk calling a suspension on Ottawa's star, even though that hit was worth more than a one-game suspension all season long. Anaheim's Chris Pronger's hit on a Detroit player was similar, and earned Pronger a suspension during the playoffs, the first of two he received. Of course, those were two U.S. teams.

Even though I will admit the Sabres choked and played as lackadaisically as they could during the postseason, they were indeed assisted in losing by the league and refs. The NHL could ill-afford to have a finals played between two U.S. teams. Who would watch such finals up in Canada? The lost TV and commercial revenue and national pride would suffer for a long time. Buffalo lost for many reasons: one being a "small market" team, less likely to draw large viewership audiences in both markets.

The Sabres had thousands of fans standing outside their arena for the playoff games because every game all season and playoffs were sold out. Can Ottawa say the same?

A second referee was added to the crew some years back so more infractions could be seen and called. That hasn't worked. Now you have two sets of eyes ignoring all the infractions, or spotting non-existent infractions which change outcomes. Anyway, this recent series was called in Ottawa's favor. Good for Canada and Ottawa fans.

The league and Canada got what they needed, and Buffalo fans got another asterisk. It didn't matter which team won the Cup, only that at least one Canadian team competed.

Rick Lange

Farmersville

***

Please, Sabres: Keep the captains

I would first like to thank the Sabres for giving us die-hard fans a wonderful season two years in a row. Yes, I know people are going to be upset if a player leaves, that happens every time. I think we definitely need to keep Daniel Briere and Chris Drury. If Drury didn't show up one night Briere did, and if Briere didn't show up Drury did.

I don't think you will ever find two captains that work as well together on a team as Briere and Drury do. They both have different ways of playing on the ice, and it has gotten us far two years in a row.

So please, Mr. Golisano, sign both Drury and Briere, and I think we'll be in good shape.

Brittany Rebmann

Collins

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Let's hope Regier still has a plan

So, as we all anxiously await the fate of our two most beloved Sabres, Chris Drury and Danny Briere, I can't help but ponder what Darcy Regier is thinking about these days because I have a sneaking suspicion that he has known what he was going to do with these two players many, many months ago.

As calculating as I believe Mr. Regier and the rest of the Sabres management team are leads me to conclude that plans were formulated for at least a year or two now to handle this very time and situation.

Oh sure, we as fans are led to believe that it's all up in the air yet with these two fixtures of the Sabres resurgence, but honestly, don't you think that the balance sheet and actuarial tables were made up a long time ago for not only these two but for others, past and present, such as Vanek, Biron, McKee, Grier and Dumont?

I do have faith though, that if both, one or neither of these two are gone, Darcy, Lindy, Mr. Quinn and Mr. Golisano have a plan up their sleeves for constructing a team that will give us another exciting year like the past one. It's only smart business and let's face it, it is a business. Otherwise there would be no discussion here. Drury and Briere would be paid what they want and things would continue as normal.

All we can hope for is that whatever happens in the near future plays out well on the ice in the end. An end not even Darcy Regier can predict.

Dale Slisz

Williamsville

***

Here's how to keep Bills in Buffalo

We join with those wishing Ralph Wilson a very long life. Bills fans can relax with Ralph at the helm knowing he has no interest in moving his club.

But what does keep us up at night is what happens to our team when Ralph passes.

As a Bills fan for many years I have two suggestions:

Give an option to a local deep-pockets guy for first crack at buying the team. The option would not offer part ownership and Ralph would retain total team control.

In the meantime, encourage local members of Congress to explore amending the NFL antitrust exemption to permit a local nonprofit organization to acquire ownership of an NFL franchise . . . as Green Bay did years ago. That would ensure a team remaining in the locality.

Mike Borton

West Seneca

Send comments to Sports Talk, The Buffalo News, One News Plaza, P.O. Box 100, Buffalo, N.Y., 14240. Letters may also be sent via fax to 849-4587 or e-mail to sports@buffnews.com. Letters should be limited to 250 words and are subject to editing.

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