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Letters for March 29

Trade top pick for proven players

Buffalo Sabres fans should be careful of what they wish for. There is no guarantee that the top pick in the draft will become a long-term success in the NHL, much less an instant star.

The Sabres are kidding themselves if they believe that one player, a teenager at that, will be able to single-handedly turn around one of the sorriest franchises not only in the hockey world, but in all of sports, period.

If I were the owner of this team, my inclination would be to trade the top pick (if they are able to secure that choice) to the highest bidder. The blue and gold is desperately in need of veteran, proven NHL players and if there are teams in the league who have the abundance of talent to package a trade to Buffalo for the top pick, then the Sabres would be very foolish not to at least consider that possibility. Fans of Buffalo sports teams are sick and tired of losing and not making the playoffs year in and year out.

The Bills have made very wise and diligent moves in the offseason to give themselves at least a fighting chance to compete with the rest of the NFL this fall.

The Sabres should take note and make moves to strengthen the team, and not tear it apart. Who is to say that a player such as McDavid or Eichel is a cinch to become a franchise player in the first place? Besides, the fans do not have the patience to wait several more years for players to develop and become successful.

We need more positive and intelligent changes, not more chances. The First Niagara Center is not a casino.

Jim Antes


Weber needs to learn lesson

“They cheer when they score to win the game,” Mike Weber said after Thursday’s game. “I don’t know. I don’t even know what to say. This is extremely frustrating for us.”

(But not when Toronto fans invades the arena for how many years and make their presence known?)

Weber has a lot of nerve criticizing the fans that pay to see this fiasco of a franchise with less than NHL professional ready players.

Let’s review, you are a professional hockey player that does not like what the fans are doing. Last time I checked, first rule of customer service is, “The customer is always right.”

Maybe if the Sabres played like a professional hockey club and had players with talent, we fans would not be cheering for the other team. Clearly nobody plays to win (check the standings) on this team.

You all talk big about winning and playing the right way as pros. Really?

Sloppy mistakes all season long on the ice disproves your comment. Lack of scoring attempts, shots on goal. The season’s shot totals (Corsi included) are a joke to us suffering fans.

That’s pretty bad when the fans have given up on the players on this roster and have targeted their hope on the future of an unknown and not on any of you. I don’t blame them.

If the team was a playoff contender or showed that some of the players are NHL caliber then we fans would not be hoping for last place. If you can’t accept the fact we are waiting on a savior and you and your teammates are not the answer, then you are in the wrong line of work.

Gil Perreault, Rick Martin, Rene Robert, Pat LaFontaine, Rob Ray, Danny Briere, Chris Drury, Danny Gare, Tim Horton. You and your mates dishonor those that came before you. So play better hockey. Then we will cheer you on.

Daniel Ruggiero


Many Buffalo fans still have some hope

In response to Tim Graham’s article on ‘tanking’ and the events at the recent Sabres/Coyotes game, I must expound. These are interesting times in Buffalo and perhaps the last time a debate like this will occur, at least in the NHL.

Ethicists and social psychologists aside, one thing is quite clear: we love our sports. The atmosphere at the recent Sabres/Coyotes game had a playoff feel to it. This was a packed house of mostly Sabres fans watching the two worst teams in the NHL. Regardless of what motivated fans to buy tickets or cheer, all in attendance bore witness to what will go down as a bizarre contest of pride or the promise of a brighter future.

If we were to survey fans on either side of the schism, I would be fairly certain that all would respond the same way to the following questions: Do you appreciate what the Pegulas have done for Buffalo and its sports scene? Are you forever bearing the burden of four Super Bowl losses and No Goal? Would you like it if one of our teams won a championship in your lifetime?

What this boils down to is that one side is displacing years of painful losses and irrelevancy on the hope that one draft pick might heal all of that pain. The other side is well aware of the past and indeed feels the same burden, but it will never stop cheering for any team representing our city of Buffalo. We are One Buffalo.

Pete Malejs


Top pick should come down to luck

People who agree with the Sabres’ tanking are taking away from this sport.

Ted Nolan must feel terrible every night knowing this. The NHL has this set up wrong. No professional player or team should lose for a draft. This is a business, not a sport. Tell the bantams or the kids who play hard to become winners that at a certain level it becomes a love of money and doing whatever it takes to have a good team and bring a championship, by controlling the way you finish.

You can’t bet on sports if you play, like Pete Rose in baseball, but you can alter your season by losing on purpose and that’s OK? So for a few years everything is fine? I would never coach a team to lose for a draft choice, but the owner pays the money. There’s no integrity in the game. It goes back to the NHL to set a system up where no one knows who gets the player. Spin the wheel maybe, make the deal.

Joe Zedick


Nolan can hold his head high

Obviously the individual who wrote in last Sunday’s newspaper asking Ted Nolan to compromise his integrity and character has never played sports at a higher level let alone professional sports. Nor does he understand the passion and pride that professional athletes play with.

Can the Buffalo Sabres fans please stop embarrassing themselves? The true knowledgeable hockey fan who loves the game and understands the game would never compromise his respect or integrity by expecting a player or coach to quit.

Nolan is not only a good coach, he is a great man. He has basically been given a car with two wheels, a car that can’t win the race, and now he’s being asked to compromise his principles.

The front office has done a wonderful job gutting this team and embarrassing themselves throughout the NHL by doing so. I am very happy to say that Nolan has not embarrassed himself like some of the Buffalo Sabres fans are doing right now.

Ed Shedesky


Baron has done fine job with Griffs

Hats off to Canisius College coach Jim Baron. What a remarkable year. After two successful 20-win seasons for the Griffs, Baron entered his third year losing four starters to graduation, including the MAAC MVP. A preseason poll of MAAC coaches picked his team to finish 10th in the 11-team conference.

The faithful on Main and Jefferson were told to prepare for a long season, and some fans wondered if four or five wins on the year could be possible. Indeed, Baron’s team started slow, but by mid-December his team made up of freshmen and sophomores started to jell, and the wins began to pile up.

Unfortunately, injuries to two key players hit just as the team was peaking. Short-handed, and lacking depth, adjustments were quickly made and Baron’s team finished the regular season with winning record and a CIT bid. The future indeed looks bright for Griffs fans.

Don McMahon


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 email to Letters should be limited to 250 words and are subject to editing. Include name, hometown and a phone number for verification.