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FANS WON'T FORGIVE

I have been a die-hard Buffalo Sabres fan for almost 20 years. While I can't complain too much about the players' effort on the ice this season, I'm still very uneasy about management's approach regarding this club. They should be held accountable for the big drop-off in attendance at Marine Midland Arena.

Even if the Sabres win, I believe a reconciliation between the organization and the vast number of fans may take years. It's already been a few months since the Sabres' summer from hell.

When it comes to the Sabres' management, I don't have a problem trying to control the salary structure, but a line must be drawn against a destructive fire-sale mentality. The only way the Sabres will get fans back is to win, stop making fire-sale decisions (LaFontaine and Nolan) and get equal value when it comes to trades.

I know Buffalo is a lifeboat compared to New York, Philadelphia or Chicago, but who says Buffalo can't handle one or two $2 million scoring forwards? If they help the Sabres win big, fans will easily fill the arena for every game, even if it meant a modest increase in ticket prices.

One final thought to the Sabres' brass: Instead of crying poverty, organize a push with the other small-market clubs to get revenue sharing in the league. If it means a legal battle that makes enemies of other owners and the players' association, so be it!

Today's hockey economics is a failure. Unless there are major changes, the Sabres and other small-market teams will not win the Stanley Cup anytime soon. Don't be happy with just making the playoffs.
MARCUS COSTELLO
Buffalo

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