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This Day in Buffalo Sports History: Bankrupt

     January 13, 2003 -- The Buffalo Sabres hit bottom on this date - at least financially.

     They declared bankruptcy under the weight of a large financial burden, caused by the collapse of the Rigas family's cable television empire.

      The Sabres, who owed Adelphia Communications $130 million, formally filed protection. It had $67.6 million in assets and $238 million in debts.

      "Without further financing, the club could soon default on its obligations to make payment of players' and other necessary employees' compensation," lawyers for the Sabres wrote in their bankruptcy petition.

     It was difficult to know what might happen at that point. Could the Sabres move? Could they default on salary payments and lose players (see Jim "Catfish" Hunter and the Oakland A's in the 1970's.)?

     As it turned out, the answer turned out much happier than could be expected. The NHL ran the team for a while, a new owner was eventually found, and Buffalo became a great hockey town again.

--- Budd Bailey

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