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Foligno becomes instant hit

Column as I see 'em:

*Marcus Foligno is the sort of prospect that Sabres fans have wanted for years, a genuine power forward who could transform the competitive personality of a hockey team.

Watching Foligno the last few weeks, I had to wonder: What if the Sabres had brought him up earlier? It's understandable that they would defer to a first-round draft choice, Zack Kassian. But didn't anyone suspect it was Foligno who would blossom when he got his chance at the NHL level?

What if Foligno had been on the ice when Milan Lucic ran over Ryan Miller in Boston? Might the team have responded differently and avoided a league-wide embarrassment? Do you suppose Foligno's youthful grit and verve could have helped during a 12-game road losing streak?

Who knew Foligno would be this good? Evidently, the scouts didn't see it, or he wouldn't have lasted until the 104th pick of the draft.

*Judging from a recording of Gregg Williams before a playoff game against the 49ers in January, the former Bills coach will be lucky to coach again in the NFL. Williams urges his defensive players to hurt the 49ers and go for their heads. "Kill the head," he said of running back Frank Gore.

It's astonishing, in light of the NFL's concern over head injuries, that a coach would be so brazenly arrogant. But arrogance is Williams' defining quality. It's hard to summon any sympathy for the man.

*It's laughable to hear basketball types lament the "one and done" rule that prohibits kids from going directly to the pros from high school. David Stern, the NBA commissioner, wants a two-year waiting period before the players can be drafted. Mavs owner Mark Cuban advocates three years.

Why don't Stern and Cuban push for a true minor-league system that allows players to make money and hone their talents for money without having to pose as college students? It's good enough for hockey and baseball. Well, college basketball is a cheap minor league for the NBA. Why trifle with a system that works, no matter how corrupt?

*The Bruins went to Ottawa on Thursday without Zdeno Chara, Patrice Bergeron and Tim Thomas, choosing to rest three of their stars with the playoffs looming. It would have been interesting to see how the Bruins would have acted had their game with Buffalo on Saturday meant anything to the Sabres.

You might recall the Bills' finale in 2004, when the Steelers rested their regulars with the Bills still alive for the playoffs. We know how that turned out.

*The Knicks miss Jeremy Lin, who is out for the season after knee surgery. They got outscored, 40-17, in the fourth quarter of a loss to the Pacers on Tuesday. Backup Baron Davis is breaking down physically. Carmelo Anthony is shooting too much. They're going nowhere fast.

*Foligno scored 13 points in his first 13 NHL games. It took Ville Leino 41 games to reach 13 points as a Sabre. Brad Boyes scored 13 points in 49 games at one stretch this season.

*The Bills host the Redskins in their preseason opener in August. That means we'll likely see the debut of Heisman winner Robert Griffin III.