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Sabre talk

I think John Muckler, unlike his local counterpart in the NFL, is among one of the very best coaches in the NHL. Given a free hand by ownership as a general manager, he soon will have the Sabres where we all want them to be -- at the top. In the meantime, here's my two cents:

Let's get some muscle that can stay in front of the nets. The little muscle that we do have is more concerned with making "Playgirl." You want to be remembered for something, right?

Get rid of Svoboda. Now that we have Zhitnik, we don't need two cream puffs running the power play or anything else. Have Zhitnik split time on the point with Bodger. Calling Svoboda a defenseman is a joke. If Smehlik has any talent or heart, where is it? The rest of the "D" is either too old or too slow to cover anyone coming into its zone and doesn't seem to want to cover the players trailing the shooter.

Getting No. 89 and a few others to play every play, every game, would also be nice. Fighting just for the sake of getting your body on camera isn't the answer, either; but how about wrinkling a few jerseys for each other when the play calls for it?

If the Sabres could learn to play like a team and not just 20 individuals when they are on the ice, maybe they wouldn't hear "thank God for Hasek" so much.


Can't C Alex

I am scratching my head wondering why anyone in their right mind would let Alexander Mogilny wear the "C" for the Buffalo Sabres? I have just finished watching the debacle in Ottawa. Not only should they give the "C" to someone else when Pat LaFontaine is out, they should sit Mogilny in the press box until he gets his act together.

I wouldn't have known he was on the ice, had it not been for the moronic penalties he took. I thought the "C" on a player's jersey stood for a captain, which in this fan's eyes means leadership, heart and 110 percent every time you step on the ice. Not Mogilny. Maybe he thinks it means apathy, lackluster or lethargic play.

It's too bad Mogilny doesn't have the heart of Rob Ray or Cam Neely, or the enthusiasm of the players in the NCAA basketball tournament. If this were true, you could probably witness one of the greatest hockey players ever to step on the ice.

Keep Jimbo, Thurm

Some misguided souls have suggested that the Bills trade Jim Kelly and/or Thurman Thomas. Kelly had a comparably good season in 1994. Thomas went over the 1,000-yard mark for a remarkable sixth consecutive season. What makes these accomplishments even more remarkable is that these men performed behind a patchwork offensive line. Are they given their due for their football talents? No. Instead, the emotional crowd wants to rush them out of town.

Why? Apparently Kelly is too old for the fans. I guess Kansas City fans are just romantics, all excited about a 38-year-old Joe Montana. What about Dave Krieg, didn't he have a good year with Detroit? Oiler fans still lament the loss of Warren Moon. Isn't Dan Marino 34? How about that youngster John Elway? Are there any fans in Denver, Miami, Minnesota, Detroit or Kansas City crying trade?

Thomas upset the fans with his off-field attitude. Too bad. I don't pay to see Thomas perform off the field. I watched Philadelphia 76er fans drum Charles Barkley out of town for similar reasons. Look at the 76ers today without Barkley. I know a lot of fans who would love to see him return to Philadelphia.

Kelly is a tough player with a skilled arm and a seasoned approach to his game. According to many draft experts, the current quarterback crop is deep, but there probably won't be many standouts in it. Over the course of the past several drafts there have only been one or two NFL quarterback standouts. The fact is you would need to go back to the quarterback class of 1983 (Kelly's class) to find several quarterback standouts still active starters in the NFL today. The current crop of seasoned free-agent quarterbacks isn't so compelling that we should trade Kelly and acquire one.

The Bills have needs, but trading Thomas or Kelly isn't the solution. It would only create more needs.
Bethlehem, Pa.

Good times ahead

As a long-time season ticket holder for the Buffalo Bills, there is no way I am going to allow the upcoming Rich Stadium lease expiration to diminish my enjoyment of the games.

Sure, it would be nice to already have Ralph Wilson's signature on a new lease that will keep the team around another 25 years. But there are no guarantees in life. (I found this out last year when my girlfriend of 20 months walked away without "renewing her lease" with me.) We just have to learn to live with what we have and enjoy it as much as possible, because you never know when you won't have it anymore.

The Bills' front office should be applauded for its recent quality free-agent signings. With the defense being the No. 1 item of improvement this year, I am very excited with new defensive coordinator Wade Phillips coming to town as well as Jim Jeffcoat, Bryce Paup and Ted Washington. Whether in a 3-4 or a 4-3 scheme, it appears that the Bills are covering all bases this year, which is very refreshing. The upcoming collegiate draft will give the team a great opportunity to upgrade their ailing offensive line (Reuben Brown or Corey Stringer?) as well as give some added depth to various positions on the club.

I complained last year about the two scheduled exhibition games played here. However, with all the good that is happening at One Bills Drive, I wouldn't mind if all four of their games were played at Rich Stadium! Kelly, Thomas, Smith, Bennett, Reed, Paup, Jeffcoat, Hull, Washington, Brooks, Jourdain, et al. What a team we will have in '95!

Bad example

I agree 100 percent with the letter from Florida last week, "Take O.J. off the Wall."

I'm sorry, but after watching the O.J. Simpson trial on TV, I'm more convinced than not that O.J. is guilty.

When the detective called on the phone and told him his wife, Nicole, had been killed, none of his replies were about who did it. If he did not, then a normal reply would have been who did it?

O.J. should not be on the wall simply because it only encourages the younger generation that it's OK to kill if you are a football hero.

Deserve what they get

The 1994 NFL season had the worst refereeing I've seen in a long time. So the owners in their wisdom voted down instant replay. I hope the owners of the teams that voted no get the short end on critical calls by these insurance executives and bank presidents masquerading as officials.

Also, change the rule where the ground can't cause a fumble.

Bring back the O's

A lifelong Baltimore Orioles fan, I was intrigued by the theory set forth in last Sunday's Inside Baseball column saying the O's, the only team to not field a replacement squad, could return its bona fide birds to the diamond to slaughter the has-beens and never-weres, thereby mocking the owners' attempt to pull a fast one on the union and the fans of the great American pastime alike.

It begs to be asked, "Why not?"

The owners are encouraging players to cross the picket line in an attempt to bust the union. The Orioles, with the blessing of the union, could cross the line en masse and bust the owners' attempt to make a travesty of the grand old game, in effect making a travesty of the owners' plan to foist faux ball on the public. They could play .900 ball against the scrubs.

In return, the O's salaries could be loaned or donated to the union to help offset the monetary problems of its membership. (You never know when your yacht is about to be repossessed.)

I have never been more proud to call myself a Baltimore Orioles fan than now.
West Seneca

Section VI hypocritical

Since Section VI is the only section in New York State that does not allow the private schools into its leagues, is it not being hypocritical by taking part in the state playoffs? Its arguments for not letting private schools compete in the Buffalo area should hold true for the rest of the state. For example, in football, the Section VI championships at Rich Stadium are regional finals for the state championships. How does Section VI justify refusing to play a private school in the regional finals, but then is willing to play a private school from Rochester, Syracuse, or anywhere in the state down the line in the state playoffs?

Parents who choose to send their child to a private school do not get any school tax break from the school district they live in. They pay the local school taxes and the private school tuition. This is the parents' choice. However, Section VI has said you do not have equal rights in athletics. It has taken away the opportunity for private school children to have an equal participation in athletics without asking the parents. Since the parents do have to pay school taxes, how can Section VI justify using their money on transportation, coaches and officials at Rich Stadium when their child does not have the same opportunity?

Section VI is a facet of our educational system that promotes equal opportunity for all children. However, it is very prejudiced in its decision to disallow private schools in the section and extremely hypocritical to participate in a state championship program that includes private schools. As an entity that preaches fair play, it should practice what it preaches.

Student athletes

Whatever the basis of the remarks about academics and athletics at Canisius College in a letter last Sunday, I doubt they have anything to do with a first-hand knowledge of members of the current Canisius basketball team. Those players I have taught usually impress me on a relative and sometimes on an absolute scale, and I do not have a reputation for being easily impressed.

They are certainly not "basketball players who just happen to be students."
Chairman, Classics Department
Canisius College
(Send comments to Sports Talk, The Buffalo News, One News Plaza, P.O. Box 100, Buffalo, N.Y., 14240. Letters should be limited to 250 words and are subject to editing. Submissions must be signed and include address and telephone number for verification. Unsigned letters will not be published.)

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