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BLAME THE RIGASES

The headline read, "Box Office Blues." True, 551 respondents? "Oohh, aahh, Sabres on the worn path." Let's not be so fast to crucify Darcy Regier or Lindy Ruff. The Rigas family not only stole some big bucks, they stole the soul of a team and a city.

While the Rigases lived in opulence reflecting the "zeitgeist" of the financial times, they trampled if not killed a "lunch bucket" legacy that endeared a team and a sport to its roots, the people. That picture of an empty arena falls squarely in the lap of the Rigas family. They treated their franchise as a pure business. That was their right as owners. The right of the supporters of the team is to buy the tickets or not. For now it is NOT.

Attendance is down throughout the league. The Sabres are in a quandary that is unique to professional sports and Buffalo. For marketing purposes, tradition was abandoned with the change of team colors, again and again. Blue, gold, white, gray, orange, red, black, silver, logo to loco. That thinking is now bearing its ugly fruit.

The upcoming CBA can be a godsend for the league if not this franchise. The NHL owns the Sabres. The NHL owes the Sabres, see no goal. The Bills redeemed themselves over and over again with savvy coaching changes and/or player moves. Can we expect less of the Sabres especially when the league is either investigating or not in its own interests? Bring in Bob Gainey and Ted Nolan and don't look back. And trade anybody. There are no more cliches.
LEONARD JAWORSKI
Lackawanna

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