Every year it seems I write about you in some form at this time.
On the 25th, you will have been gone for 13 years. And I miss ya.
But this past week, there is one thing I realized that I never thanked you for, for which I could never thank you enough:
Thank you for not passing along the love for the Buffalo Sabres.
(Yes. This will be a facetious Fathers Day column. Whether it’s funny or sad is up to you, the reader.)
Thanks, again, Dad. I can’t thank you enough.
We’ll always have the Yankees and the Bills. We’ll always have Derek Jeter coming through where Jim Kelly came-up short.
We’ll always have A-Rod to make fun of for underachieving, and always have Frank Reich, whom overachieved when we needed him most.
But, we won’t have the Sabres.
We won’t feel ever have conversations at Mt. Carmel Cemetery over Terry and Kim Pegula’s mismanagement of a franchise WNY hockey fans had once believed they had rescued.
I’ll never stand over your grave and ask you, “is it too late for Tom Golisano to take the Sabres back?”
Then again, you wouldn’t know who the Pegulas are, anyway. They came after your time. They DID save the Bills, so it’s not like they’re awful billionaires. But, it seems, they’ve overextended themselves with the hockey team, and have now gutted it and left only an inexperienced GM with no hockey chops in charge. His first order of business: fire everybody. Or, tell everyone they’re fired.
Amerks coaches? Fired. Amerks GM? Fired. Scouts? Fired. The Pegulas, who famously outbid now-President Trump for the Bills, have now taken a page from “The Art of the Deal,” and named Kevyn Adams their apprentice.
But Dad, we don’t have to commiserate over that, either here, or at the graveyard, because, we never really cared for the Sabres. In fact, as I recall, our last Sabres conversation was me asking you, “Dad, why DID we watch hockey to begin with?” I’ll never forget your answer:
“Danny Boy, the winters were long.”
So have been the last ten years.
So, thank you, for sparing me even more pain. Watching the Bills lose four straight Super Bowls, the Music City Miracle, and the first seven years of the drought were worth it because--hey-hey, hey-hey!--they were close. They were competitive. And football came second on Sunday only to God.
Watching the Yankees lose a 3-0 lead in the 2004 ALCS to the hated Red Sox and A-Rod’s subsequent postseason implosions were assuaged by (at that point) 1996, 1998, 1999, and 2000.
The Sabres? As you would say, they’re “somebody else’s problem.”
Starting with Kevyn Adams and Ralph Krueger. Imagine the first-year GM with as much hockey experience as a sportswriter telling the head coach he inherited about the Three Es HIS bosses chanted on Tuesday’s Gloom-and-Zoom call:
Effective. Efficient. Economic.
TRANSLATION: Cheap. Cheap. Cheap.
When words like those, as well as “lean” are the only synonyms from Mrs. Pegula’s statement to the AP two weeks ago that were consistent, get ready for things to only get worse. She also said Botterill would return. Apparently she hallucinated he’d roll over his staff instead of falling on his...(ugh)...sword.
The Sabres haven’t developed. They have more top-ten draft picks on the roster than anyone in hockey, or maybe even sports and are still playing catfish. Maybe that’s why the Pegulas figure a computer could do better, despite the Amerks’ 116-66-33 record with Chris Taylor at the helm. Yet, minor leagues are simply year-round training grounds, and nobody really came-up and did anything.
But, who’s gonna replace all these guys? And who would want to? Remember the post-Donahoe Bills? NOBODY wanted to come to Buffalo. If the Sabres still need to pay everybody under contract that means they’re gonna be very tight with Sabrebucks when it comes to bringing in sharp hockey minds hired to do twice the job at a fraction of the cost.
Coming this winter: The Grinches On Ice. And if you think former Sabres hero, Chris Drury, an assistant GM with the Rangers is gonna come back to town, think of the cost, the expectation, the BS, the drama, and the fact that former Sabres Phil Housley and Jason Botterill have both failed to pull the swords from the rubble at One Seymour Knox Plaza.
Dad, as you’d say, “somebody else’s problem.”
So Happy Fathers Day, Dad. The Sabres are somebody else’s problem.
Can’t thank you enough.