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OFF MAIN STREET

Hamister drops the tools

Give Buffalo Sabres owner-in-waiting Mark Hamister some credit: He doesn't put his foot in his mouth.

Before Hamister went before reporters Thursday to discuss his successful bid to buy the Sabres, his ever-helpful handlers handed out copies of his prepared remarks. And there, in the seventh paragraph, was a huge land mine.

"This team will be run by a Buffalo-born-and-bred management team that will keep the Sabres in Buffalo where they belong and give this organization (and) the players the tools they need to win," the text said.

Did someone say tools?

Shades of indicted owner John Rigas and his promise to deliver "the tools to finish the job." Just imagine how often sports talk show hosts would repeat the clip of Hamister pledging to provide "the tools they need to win."

Fortunately, Hamister dodged the bullet. When he read his statement, he only promised "the support they need to win."

What a relief.

The cynical side of Sabres fans

The Sabres, meanwhile, are continuing their campaign to muster support in the community, using the slogan "It's Our Team: Let's Keep It That Way."

And when the team went out and looked great winning its first two games, local hockey fans probably agreed with the sentiment.

Then the Sabres went into the dumper, big time. Before Friday night's victory, they hadn't won since Oct. 22, and they haven't even been that entertaining in losing, which they again did Saturday night.

Which caused some cynical folks to suggest possible changes to the motto. We had more entries than we knew what to do with -- some of which weren't suitable for a family audience -- so we whittled them down to our Top 10:

10. It's Our Team: You Want 'Em?

9. It's Our Team: Don't Tell Anybody.

8. It's Our Team: Softer Than Eric Lindros' Skull.

7. It's Our Team: At Least the Owner Didn't Name the Arena After Himself.

6. It's Our Team: Them's Fightin' Words.

5. It's Our Team: Who Else Would Have Them?

4. It's Our Team: Plenty of Good Seats Available.

3. It's Our Team: When Are They Showing Up, Anyway?

2. It's Our Team: Until We Palm It Off on Someone Else.

1. It's Our Team: Stop Reminding Me.

Snowy owl's show is a real hoot

Forget the new Harry Potter movie. The real deal is just a few miles away.

Hedwig, Hogwarts and Quidditch are three owls that live at the Hawk Creek Wildlife Center in East Aurora, a nonprofit organization that rehabilitates injured animals and provides environmental education programs to the public.

The three owls, part of Hawk Creek's outreach program, are quickly becoming a popular attraction at churches, schools and senior centers.

Of all of them, Hedwig, an 18-month-old snowy owl born into captivity, is usually the big hit. We're told she's curious, gentle and loves being around people, especially kids.

"She's the star," said Mimi Piciullo, director of development for the center. "She's a real hoot."

By Phil Fairbanks, with contributions from David Robinson, John F. Bonfatti and James Heaney.

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