I know this has been a difficult time to be a Sabres fan. I also know that fandom is a finicky thing. One minute you you are the hero the next minute you are the goat. I raise goats, I try not to blame them for anything they haven’t done, but I’m weird that way.
This letter is just to let you know that when measured on the whole, your tenure as the owner of the Buffalo Sabres passes muster with me. The local media may not agree, many of the fans may not either, but I can’t speak for them. I can only speak for myself, and wouldn’t dare presume otherwise. Do I have issues with how you handled certain situations? Of course I do, and they are legion. Will I recount them here? No. What would be the point? That horse is dead and life is too short to dwell on what was as opposed to what is. Why be a churlish ass when there’s so much else to be thankful for?
The Sabres are my adopted team. I’m not from Western N. Y. I’ve never been west of the Finger Lakes (and only once as a child), but I did grow up in N.Y. State, a few miles south of Newburgh. I’ve always been a N.Y. sports fan. When I came back to the NHL in the late ’90’s I chose the Sabres as my team. There were others in contention, but something about those Hasek/Peca/Ruff Sabres kept me coming back and caring more than so many other possible choices. Maybe it was Peca climbing the back of Eric Lindros protecting Hasek or Rick Jennearet’s unique delivery or Lindy Ruff’s ‘handling’ of the press. But, by the time he uttered the words, “No Goal!” I knew that I was a Sabres fan for life.
So, thanks for listening to Larry Quinn and stepping in to save the Sabres from bankruptcy and relocation. I don’t care what your ulterior motivations were, they are yours and you are entitled to them. Motivations don’t matter to me, I’m an economist at heart, only actions. And you acted when no one else could or would. For that you have my eternal thanks. Regardless of how it turned out in the end.
Because, not only were you the right man at the right time to pony up the money to save the team, you are also insightful enough to know when it was time to step aside. You’ve re-built an impressive foundation. And Terry Pegula is paying you handsomely for that insight and hard-work. The Sabres are more viable as a commodity now then they have ever been in their 40 year history But, that said, it’s also true that much of the goodwill engendered by your guidance has faded. So, thanks for knowing when your time to exit the stage was at hand; passing the baton to someone more interested/vested/passionate about this franchise to build upon your work.
Thanks for all that the Sabres have given me over these past 7 years. The good and the bad. Thanks for the opportunities being a Sabres fan opened up for me, the friends I’ve made, the spikes in my blood-pressure, the sleepless nights pondering salary cap issues, the lost man-hours at work, the chills I get when I think of the phrase, “Scary Good,” and the frustration and loss of watching it all slip away.
Thanks for helping make the Trade Deadline almost as important as The Entry Draft or my Anniversary, as well as the tens of thousands of words written across multiple venues simply because I thought my opinion worth sharing with the world, or at least my little corner of it. Thanks for all of the little moments I’ve forgotten or are about to forget.
In short, thanks for allowing me to be the kind of hockey fan I want to be. And, by selling the Sabres at this moment in time, thanks for saving the team yet again.