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Tim Graham's Power Take: Thank you, Russ Brandon

Russ Brandon has been getting his teeth kicked in for a few months, and with the Sabres in shambles it might seem like a strange time to say this:

Give Brandon a break.

Fans rush to blame Brandon for every problem facing the Bills and Sabres. He's president of both teams, after all.

But for a moment, with three NFL teams relocating over the past 14 months, consider the job Brandon did to keep the Bills in Western New York. Brandon maintained the Bills while Ralph Wilson was an absentee owner.

Brandon also oversaw Pegula Sports and Entertainment's acquisitions of the 2017 World Junior Championship, 2019 Frozen Four and 2022 NCAA hoops subregional.

Executive sources say the Sabres' business practices have improved under Brandon, who brought an NFL mentality to what Mario Lemieux once called "a garage league." A mix of executives from football and hockey -- COO Bruce Popko, Frank Cravotta (creative services), Chuck LaMattina (finance), Erica Muhleman (business development), Mark Preisler (media and content), Brent Rossi (marketing) -- have represented WNY well.

I've been critical of Brandon, but with him as their top general, the Pegulas finally might be deciphering this big-league ownership stuff. The Pegulas last week fired Sabres GM Tim Murray and coach Dan Bylsma, a two-fer decision they weren't bold enough to make on the Bills five months earlier.

There are reasons to be encouraged if you look, and Brandon's involved.

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