Sabres should stop their numbers game
I've held Sabres season tickets for 14 years and just want to know one thing -- when do I get my (seat) number retired? Apparently anyone can have it done. Forget for a moment that retiring numbers is a silly practice and should be severely limited. The Sabres have gone overboard with this practice.
I immensely enjoyed watching Pat LaFontaine play for the Sabres. He combined talent and heart into everything you could want in a captain. I'll never forget his assist on the May Day goal or his going through facial reconstruction for my team. But, his contributions do not warrant his number being retired.
Are the Sabres doing this out of some bizarre guilt from the bad feelings accrued over how he left the team? LaFontaine's post-Buffalo career shows that the Sabres were right on that score. Does he belong in the Sabres Hall of Fame? Absolutely. The Buffalo Sports Hall of Fame? Sure. The Good Guy Hall of Fame? OK. Retire his number? No way!
Sabres have good idea on the wrong night
The retirement of Pat LaFontaine's number by the Sabres should have been a night of adulation for one of the classiest men to ever put on a Sabres jersey. While the ceremony itself was moving, my suggestion to the Sabres is that they do not ever have a special night like that on a date that the Sabres play the Leafs.
The arena should have been filled with the Buffalo fans who shared La-la-LaFontaine's journey. Instead, this event was witnessed by an arena partially more interested in Domi's 1,000th game than the retirement of No. 16. Go for two guaranteed sellouts and give the honored player the fans who lived the dream with him.
Hoop fans suffer from MSG Lite
Last Saturday night was another example of how much Western New York has lost as a result of the demise of the Empire Sports Network. For several years, MAAC basketball has been available on the MSG Network.
Unfortunately, I learned that Adelphia does not carry the MSG Network anymore; rather, it carries "MSG Lite," a sanitized version of the MSG Network. After showing an exciting 38 minutes of the first game of MAAC men's quarterfinal tripleheader between St. Peter's and Siena on MSG, Adelphia abruptly switched area college hoop fans to their "alternative MSG" coverage of the Buffalo Sabres-Boston Bruins hockey game, a game which in prior years would have been carried on the Empire Sports Network.
Try as I might, nowhere on either basic cable or even the enhanced digital cable could I find the true MSG Network feed of the final two minutes of the St. Peter's-Siena game (a game St. Peter's would win by a single point), or the later second game of the quarterfinal between Niagara and Iona.
With the demise of the Empire Sports Network, not only are Western New York sports teams in general shortchanged, but Western New Yorkers don't even get the real MSG Network. We get "MSG Lite."
MacDonald is a class act
Unfortunately, in college athletics, your teams are judged on wins and losses. I guess coach Mike MacDonald did not win enough games to keep his job at Canisius. What he did do, though, was run a clean program with an impressive graduation rate. His teams always showed great sportsmanship. Coach MacDonald has always given so much of his time to the Western New York community and is a true role model. I know coach MacDonald will leave Canisius with his head held high. Coach, you are a class act and will be missed at Canisius.
Puckett was sunshine on a rainy day
It is very rare that the death of an athlete can hit me so very hard. Kirby Puckett is a rare exception. I have such pleasant memories of this man.
I remember going to a game in old Exhibition Stadium in the summer of 1988. I finally got to see a Toronto Blue Jays game in person, but all everyone in the stadium was talking about was Kirby, and as a teenager, I could not understand why.
As I became older, it became very clear. The game I went to involved a three-hour rain delay. We decided to wait it out, and I was so glad we did. When nobody else was in the dugout, Kirby Puckett came out and talked to us. We talked about baseball. He told us the importance of staying in school. But the thing he talked about the most is how important his family was to him, and that is something that has always stuck with me. He was always smiling.
He gave interviews; he was always willing to talk with reporters. It always meant a lot to me that I was able to meet him. Thanks for the memories, Kirby. I know you meant so much to so many people. You will be missed by everyone.
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