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Letters / Our readers speak out

Sabres still need a heavy hitter on 'D'

There is an old saying in sports: you make the same mistakes when you win as when you lose. For the Sabres, this is very true. Yes, they had their patented January swoon. However, there is something that is still very troubling to me. Back in June last year, I said the Sabres needed a big hitter like Rhett Warrener and needed to keep Jay McKee. True, McKee was certainly not worth $4 million a year, but who'd they get? My wife said it best in the home opener: "Sissy Spacek is a defenseman?" I thought it was funny, sadly so does the rest of the league. The Buffalo News said this could be the best defensive corps in Sabres history. No. Even with Richard Smehlik, the 1998-99 defense was far better.

Please, Mr. Regier, if there is any truth to the rumor of Bouwmeester for Biron, throw in Lydman and Kalinin for an extra bag of pucks. C'mon, Darcy, his first name is Jay after all.

Richard R. Charlap Jr.



Changes damaging hockey tradition

After reading in The News the possibility CBC will be bought out for broadcast rights for the NHL, I mused, "No Hockey Night in Canada theme on Saturday nights? No Satellite Hotstove? No Don Cherry?" Now the NHL brain trust introduced a new uniform "concept" at the All-Star Game to be mandated for use next year. Oh, the tradition flows. Anyone remember the "Cooperall" experiment with the full-length pants that gave that street hockey "look"?

Tradition is big in Canada. Tradition is genuine with hockey fans. These two new tangents will one way or another affect the league and its fans. It has affected this fan. The loss of "Hockey Night In Canada" along with a new uniform concept has some in the NHL front office trying to reinvent the wheel, and most of them are business people, not hockey people.

Here's one fan who hopes he lives to see tradition prevail over marketing. I get the strong feeling, I'm not alone.

Leonard W. Jaworski



Biron deserves more playing time

I am writing to show my displeasure on the handling of Marty Biron by Lindy Ruff. It is appalling that a great team player like Biron is relegated to warming the bench. Ruff is performing a deep injustice to a player who last year proved his worth by filling in for Ryan Miller. This year through the first half of the season he played in about a dozen games.

Show some class, Darcy Regier and Ruff -- play Biron or trade him.

Harold Meyers



Make visiting fans feel at home in Buffalo

I was surprised to read a News article about how fans of visiting teams are treated at Bills home games, with incidents where fans wearing visiting team regalia have been mistreated. And, I was appalled to read a letter in this section suggesting that wearing the regalia of the visiting team means asking for trouble.

Is this a recent phenomenon? When I lived in Buffalo, we always treated visiting team fans with courtesy, or at least polite tolerance and amusement.

Now, living away from Buffalo, but with a passion for the Bills and Sabres, I have had opportunities to visit many other cities to cheer them on. Everywhere I have gone, except Philadelphia, I have worn some sort of Bills or Sabres regalia to the game. Although I have generally behaved in a more reserved manner than I would have had I been here, I have never encountered outright hostility or uncivilized treatment.

No one should be mistreated based on the clothing they wear. Everyone has the right to cheer for, and identify with, their team. Fans who attend games and support the Bills are there to celebrate and experience the civic pride in having the team, not to create a negative experience for others. The local fan base helps shape Buffalo's often fragile national image. Fans are goodwill ambassadors of the city and the team.

The Bills often talk about the importance of the 12th man; fans should try to create a high-energy environment in lending support to the team. But it is also the fan's collective responsibility to help maintain a civil, friendly and safe atmosphere in the seating area.

David I. Rothenberg

Baltimore, Md.


Cookie dropped a few crumbs

I've read a few of the "Take O.J. off the Wall of Fame while adding Lou Saban and Cookie Gilchrist to that wall" letters. I totally agree with the Lou Saban addition. I also really thought Gilchrist was a terrific player. Many a time I remember the announcers saying: "Carlton and Gilchrist set behind Warren Rabb. The give is to Gilchrist. There is no hole and he gets 5."

However, it also seems to me that Cookie refused to block in a playoff game against the Patriots for Jack Kemp because he thought Kemp wasn't giving him enough carries. I believe the quote from Gilchrist was something like, "I play for me."

Maybe Cookie was correct in his actions and compared to what is said and done these days it may have been trivial. However, is it enough to keep him off the Wall?

Jeff Wagner


Send comments to Sports Talk, The Buffalo News, One News Plaza, P.O. Box 100, Buffalo, N.Y., 14240. Letters may also be sent via fax to 849-4587 or e-mail to Letters should be limited to 250 words and are subject to editing.

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