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This Day in Buffalo Sports History: Happy beginning, sad ending

    March 21, 1998 -- The formal announcement that John Rigas and Adelphia Communications had taken over control of the Buffalo Sabres seemed to be in limbo for months and months.

   Well, the two sides finally got a deal done on this date. John Rigas of Adelphia signed the agreement.

   "Details were not released," a prepared statement said, "but will be communicated to the Sabres' partners early next week. A meeting of the partnership is planned early next month to consider the transaction. The closing is expected to take place in April, but is subject to various third-party consents and approvals, including that of the National Hockey League."

   Rigas and Adelphia had bought a share of the Sabres earlier in the decade. The move was supposed to be a life-saver for the Sabres; Seymour Knox III once said that he thought the only way the Sabres could survive in the economic situation of the day was for the team to have a strong tie to the television channel.

   As it turned out, the team survived and the television outlet perished ... and Rigas wound up in prison.

--- Budd Bailey

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