>Drury followed his dream to New York
It has been the policy of the Buffalo Sabres to not negotiate contracts during the season so as to not cause undue distractions. May I suppose then that the Sabres entered into a gentleman's agreement with Chris Drury at the beginning of the season and that at the end of the season, the contract would be formally signed?
If Drury's contract had been signed in October, would Danny Briere have been patient enough to wait till the end of the season for a new contract? I hardly think so. What about Vanek? What about other players who are in the last year of their contracts? Would Ryan Miller and others want to renegotiate their contracts? I'm already driven to distraction.
Suppose Chris Drury had made a gentleman's agreement? Was he bound by it? Over time things change. Drury's boyhood dream was to play for the Rangers. During the season and the playoffs did Drury see a Rangers team that was just a few players from winning the Cup? Could he have imagined himself skating around Madison Square Garden holding the Cup, fulfilling his boyhood dream? Fulfilling that dream may have been more important than loyalty to the Sabres.
Let's look at all the possibilities before we condemn Golisano, Quinn, and Regier.
>Say goodbye to team chemistry
This Sabres fan wrote last year that we would not get past Ottawa. Thank God we weren't playing the Ducks this year in the Stanley Cup finals; the Sabres would have been exposed for their soft underbelly.
I also wrote this year that they were struggling with weaker teams and got through the first two rounds by the skin of their teeth; not a very good omen. It was way too early in the playoffs for anyone in Buffalo to be dreaming about winning the Cup.
Well, guys, we can forget about "team chemistry" (and Sabres-fan chemistry, actually); the team we had is no more. Next year will be a giant step backwards . . . welcome to the Buffalo sports world.
It's not just that the heart and soul got away; it is the way management carried this out. The word "classless" comes to mind. The rest of the team has been watching. Maybe next year . . . yeah right!
>Fans here are owed a sports championship
The Buffalo Sabres, after falling short of the Stanley Cup again, let two of their top players go, and apparently haven't gone after top-notch players to make up the difference. The Bills, several seasons since having played in the postseason, may soon be sold and gone.
Sure, Tom Golisano and Ralph Wilson are to be thanked for keeping their respective teams here; and NHL and NFL Commissioners Gary Bettman and Roger Goodell may have helped somewhat. But, in a town that hasn't seen its big-league teams win the top prize, it's time these people give us something in return for our loyalty to these teams. Championship-winning teams would fill the bill nicely. So . . .
Tom and Ralph, Gary and Roger: You owe us big, you owe us now.
Mr. Golisano, you saved the Sabres from bankruptcy and made them competitive. However, I'm not satisfied with being dumped in the Eastern Conference finals twice in a row. At least when Mike Grier and Jay McKee were here, they went to Game Seven. Not so this year.
Mr. Wilson, it's granted you've kept the Bills here all these 47 years, longer than some owners kept their teams in one place. However, the last playoffs this team saw was the "Music City Miracle" after the 1999 season, and your personnel changes from then on have taken the Bills away from being the competitive force they once were, which is no longer acceptable.
Mr. Bettman, while you may have helped in keeping the Sabres here, you still occupy the dog house for your handling of the 1999 Stanley Cup between the Buffalo Sabres and the Dallas Stars. No matter how you spin Brett Hull's actions in that third overtime, you're still on the hook, and you must face up to it.
Mr. Goodell, it's nice to see a Western New York native rise to the zenith in any area of endeavor. Deep down, you have a spot in your heart for the Buffalo Bills, admit it. Wouldn't it be nice to see the Bills win some Vince Lombardi trophies under your watch? Wouldn't it be nice for you to take a stand of courage for small-market teams such as the Bills, even in the face of money-grubbers like Bob Kraft, Jerry Jones, Danny Snyder, and the rest? Now's your chance to show that.
Bills and Sabres fans, never let it be forgotten amongst these men: They owe us big; they owe us now.
Lloyd A. Marshall Jr.
>Do Canadian teams get all the breaks?
I totally agree that the NHL did not want the Buffalo Sabres to win the Stanley Cup.
Why do the Canadians always have to win! No matter how hard our Sabres try we always seem to be cast aside.
Would the NHL lose money if a small market team won? Also why do the referees at times overlook giving Canadians penalties? I agree that in some games the Sabres were lackadaisical. However, overall they played their hearts out. The fans were behind them all the time!
Why not two American teams for playoffs? We have national pride in U.S.A. We had a terrific team this year and it would have been nice to get the Stanley Cup.
I do have a question for the NHL. Are you loyal citizens of Canada?
>Let's make a deal for Regier, Quinn
I have a suggestion for Tom Golisano. In order to ensure that the loyal Sabres fans will still support your decimated team in the coming year: Trade Larry Quinn and Darcy Regier for any amount of money -- or even a third-string player. If that doesn't work then pay another team to take them!
We have paid dearly for their blunders and, even worse, for their lies (re: the Briere-Drury situation). It's time for a fresh start.
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