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Letters / Our readers speak out

>Sabres aren't the same, and the fans know it

I hope Larry Quinn and company can look themselves in the mirror. Due to their lack of foresight and unwillingness to pay their co-captains, the Sabres are sitting at the bottom of the rankings. It doesn't take a genius to realize that when you cut the heart and soul out of a team, you can't replace it with rookies.

I am a season-ticket holder and the magic of the last two years has been wonderful. The Sabres gave Buffalo something to be proud of. Nearly everyone was infected by them, even people who weren't hockey fans. What will happen in a couple of years when HSBC is empty?

Quinn recently said on a local radio station that he's not worried, the Sabres are just going through growing pains. I wish the rest of us felt that way.

Deborah Noble

Williamsville

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>Sabres improvement should start at top

Enough is enough! I've had it with Darcy Regier whining about lack of scoring, bigger nets, smaller goalies, etc., etc. The only thing he didn't complain about was the size of the puck.

The fact of the matter is that he's still suffering from that hangover that he and Quinn created. Yes, I'm referring to the Briere/Drury debacle. Don't tell me not to bring it up again. That's why we're in last place and in my opinion that's where we'll finish, notwithstanding the fact that we have the best coach in the league as voted on by other league players last year. And who'll get canned at the end of the year, if not sooner? You guessed it, Lindy.

Where's Golisano? Haven't heard a word from him about the status of the Sabres. The man who was perceived as a savior three years ago has disappeared. Ultimately, as owner, he is to blame for the sad condition of the Sabres. Not being a true hockey man he wound up giving Regier and Quinn (now a two-time loser) too much authority. They, in turn, tried to impress him by running an NHL franchise with AHL players. Granted it worked for a couple of years, but you can't lose players like Briere and Drury and simply replace them with two more shirts. The goals they scored were secondary to the leadership they provided, especially Drury.

In my opinion, the club needs new leadership and direction starting with a new president and general manager. At this point even Muckler is an option! As I told my sons two months ago, "If you think the Bills are bad, wait until you see the Sabres."

Jim DelGaudio

Buffalo

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>Team has become barely watchable

I recently received a letter in the mail from the Sabres. It was a thank you for being a season-ticket holder. Free yearbook, poster, and my very own plastic card showing I'm a season-ticket holder.

This should definitely make me forget about how the billionaire and management tore apart a very entertaining and winning team. This team is barely watchable now. It is ironic they are giving out a poster, because they are the "poster child" for mismanagement. It's funny how Ottawa was able to keep all their stars. But this is Buffalo, and I hope the billionaire's bank account is a little bigger.

I was at the Aud for the original "Thank you Sabres." That's when hockey was hockey, not business.

David Vitali

Buffalo

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>Don't blame Max for Sabres' struggles

Et tu, Sully?

It is bad enough that I have to read Bucky Gleason's incessant, inane ranting against Maxim Afinogenov; now I have to get Jerry Sullivan's opinion as well? Where were you and Bucky when Danny Briere was coughing up the puck at center ice during the entire playoffs last season?

Or Brian Campbell playing horrific since December 2006? Ales Kotalik has been a complete nothing for his career, yet nobody calls for his ouster. Ditto for Dmitri Kalinin, who resembles the defenseman from "Slap Shot" -- yeah, the one who's always blocking the goalie. Tim Connolly's soft hands and equally soft head have done little to make me forget Chris Drury. We don't really want to discuss Drew Stafford and his vanishing act, do we?

Fine, Max has looked a little bewildered at times. Maybe having an overrated, defensive-minded coach who keeps telling only you to "produce or else" all the time will do that. Perhaps Max isn't a team leader, just a valuable and exciting player. But, go ahead, bench him. In fact, trade him; preferably to a team like Ottawa or Pittsburgh. Better yet, give him to the Rangers or Anaheim. Make certain his new team has a nice jersey so people here can buy one.

Richard R. Charlap Jr.

Lackawanna

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>Gutting the roster sealed Sabres' fate

Anyone looking for answers to the current problems with the Buffalo Sabres need look no further than last summer, when the organization made the decision that they could no longer afford to compete for the Stanley Cup. When the Sabres gutted their team by letting their two captains walk and then told the fans and their own remaining players in a press conference that they were going to be "less competitive" they were telling those same people to forget about winning the Stanley Cup.

The players clearly received the message! They no longer take the ice with the confidence and swagger of a team that knows it is going to win the hockey game. They play hard but they are fragile and leaderless.

Following their decision, in the midst of all the negative publicity regarding their choice to let their captains walk away, the Sabres were forced into matching a mega-contract for their budding superstar in an attempt to retain some credibility as a viable organization and not a farm club for the rest of the NHL. This is the same budding superstar who is now struggling to live up to the pressure of that contract as well as trying to replace the two stars that are no longer here. What's done is done but we don't have to like it!

All of this ties in very nicely with a column that Bucky Gleason penned several days ago about the area's "loser mentality." I prefer to think of it as "small market mentality" or maybe "large market envy." It has been hammered into us over and over by the Sabres organization that this is a small market and we can't afford to run with the big dogs. Meaning that we should be happy and satisfied when our team is competitive but forget about the realistic possibility of winning a championship! While it may be true that the financial situation here for a major league team is very difficult, the lesson has been learned. Now we are relegated to hope for a competitive team and only dreaming about championships while other organizations and cities live those dreams.

Fran Danitz

Cheektowaga

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>Playoffs don't start until the spring

Why is everyone so upset about the Sabres' won/loss record? Last year we won the first 10 games of the season, won the Presidents' Trophy for the most points during the regular season and we did not make the Stanley Cup finals. Winning the last 10 playoff games would have been more important.

The Pittsburgh Steelers went 15-1 in the regular season. They did not go to the Super Bowl. The next year they were the last team to make the playoffs and won the Super Bowl. Which one was the better year?

The St. Louis Cardinals won their division with the worst won/loss record of any division winner. Barely over .500. They won the World Series. Was that a good year? The Atlanta Braves won 13 straight division titles. How many World Series did they win? One.

What will the Buffalo Bills of the '90s be remembered for? Winning four straight conference titles, which is something not likely to be repeated? No. They will be remembered for losing four straight Super Bowls.

So sit back and relax till spring when the playoffs start and hope the Sabres do what the Steelers did. The regular season is to set the matchups for the playoffs and player statistics. Nothing more.

Bill Clark

West Seneca

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>Front office ruined a special hockey team

What's wrong with the Sabres?

1) An owner only 90 percent committed to winning.

2) A president and managing partner who would rather be Bill Veeck than Larry Lucchino.

3) A general manager who is so afraid to make a mistake that he refuses to trade anyone with even a hint of promise even if they continue to play with no heart (Max and Ales).

If this was really "Hockeytown," Larry Quinn and Darcy Reiger would never have gotten away with destroying the truly special thing we had. If Tom Golisano really cared about us, the fans, he never would have allowed it!

Michael Czerwonka

Grand Island

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>Hey Mr. Shula: Let's get real

The almighty Don Shula has spoken.

Shula says the Patriots deserve an asterisk for cheating in a game against the Jets. Yes, the Pats did wrong, were fined and lost a number one draft pick. However, this is the same Don Shula who was on the referee committee for disciplinary measures and actions. Remember the stare downs, arms folded and raised eyebrows when coach Don didn't get favorable calls when his team played?

Come on, Don, let's get real and put this one to bed.

Tony Hammill

Buffalo

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>Money couldn't buy Torre's Yankee wins

If writers to this column think Joe Torre's success is all because of George Steinbrenner's money, then I need to know why the Yankees didn't win all those years before Torre got to New York. They spent more money than anyone back then, too.

It sounds like it's OK for the Yankees to spend money so long as they don't win, but when they get some bang for their buck everyone's got a problem with it.

As far as Torre having success with the Pirates or Royals, nobody could win with those teams.

Believe it or not, not every team in sports is committed to winning no matter what they say. Look no further than the local NHL team.

James Leo

Williamsville

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>A vote for more field hockey coverage

I am writing in regards to your coverage, or lack thereof, of the varsity field hockey team from Williamsville North High School. I am an avid reader of the local sports section of your newspaper, and as a member of the community with a personal interest in the team, was astounded by the lack of coverage on the team's games played at the sectional, regional and state levels.

These girls worked very hard all season to achieve the goals that they did (finishing with an amazing 23-0 record) and I feel that they did not receive adequate recognition from The Buffalo News. It's a shame that a local high school sports team could win a state championship, only to have their article buried between stories about the NFL.

What's worse, you neglected to mention the full team roster and failed to include a picture of the entire team. While the girls are thrilled to have won the state championship and to see that they did get some recognition from your paper, it's a shame that you couldn't give them what they deserved; what they earned.

Erin Morris

East Amherst

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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