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A MEETING WITH THE COMMISSIONER

Wednesday, 01.09.2008 / 11:59 AM / Features
By Erin Pollina  - Sabres.com
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A MEETING WITH THE COMMISSIONER
Christina Warner
As an avid Sabres fan, Ron Warner was just happy to take his daughter Christina to the NHL Winter Classic.

He never dreamed he would take her to meet the commissioner of the league as well.

After watching part of the first period at Ralph Wilson Stadium from end zone seats on New Year’s Day as large flakes began to coat the field and the wind blustered, Warner began talking with a fan in the next row.

That small talk led to a big gesture.

The man explained to Warner that he was with the NHL Player’s Association and had four tickets to the commissioner’s suite. Feeling it was a conflict of interest to take those seats, he offered them to Warner, his daughter, and two friends- Ralph Pratt and his son Jeffrey.

“I looked at my friend, thanked the guy and took off,” Warner joked. “My daughter had no idea what was going on… At first she thought we were trying to leave at the end of the first period. I said ‘no, we’ve got better seats.’ She was saying, ‘better seats? There are no better seats, this place is packed.’”

Dad was happy to prove her wrong.

They were greeted in the suite- belonging to Ralph Wilson’s wife Mary- by a buffet of food and drinks, a full catering staff, a complimentary program and an NHL Winter Classic toque.

Perhaps the best upgrade, however, was the change in temperature.

“Being able to be inside there, seats on the 50-yard line, not getting snowed or rained on anymore… It went from battling the elements to basically sitting in luxury,” Warner said.

Enjoying the second period, and Brian Campbell’s tying goal, Warner overheard his friend, Pratt, introducing himself to Gary Bettman.

“I figured we were going to get thrown out then,” Warner laughed.

Instead, Bettman invited them to sit and watch the game.

“I had an assumption that being such an important figure in the sports world he wouldn’t really want four every day common hockey fans sitting with him. But he didn’t seem concerned. When we introduced ourselves, he was very personable,” Warner said. “He answered any questions we had about the preparation and the game itself. He was a great host.

“It was just like watching a hockey game with your next-door neighbor.”

If you neighbor is responsible for overseeing one of the premier sports leagues in the country, that is.

Following the game, the four fans were invited to stay in the suite while traffic cleared out of the stadium.

“The commissioner shook our hands and said he hoped we enjoyed ourselves,” Warner said. “He’s a great a guy.”

The sentiment applies, as well, to the anonymous individual who made it all possible.

“I don’t know who he is, for one, but I would really like to thank him,” Warner said. “I didn’t even realize at first what he was giving us… His generosity was quite surprising.

“The experience was like no other,” Warner said.

SCHEDULE

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STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 p - BOS 82 54 19 9 261 177 117
2 y - PIT 82 51 24 7 249 207 109
3 x - TBL 82 46 27 9 240 215 101
4 x - MTL 82 46 28 8 215 204 100
5 x - NYR 82 45 31 6 218 193 96
6 x - PHI 82 42 30 10 236 235 94
7 x - CBJ 82 43 32 7 231 216 93
8 x - DET 82 39 28 15 222 230 93
9 WSH 82 38 30 14 235 240 90
10 NJD 82 35 29 18 197 208 88
11 OTT 82 37 31 14 236 265 88
12 TOR 82 38 36 8 231 256 84
13 CAR 82 36 35 11 207 230 83
14 NYI 82 34 37 11 225 267 79
15 FLA 82 29 45 8 196 268 66
16 BUF 82 21 51 10 157 248 52

STATS

2013-2014 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
C. Hodgson 72 20 24 -26 44
T. Ennis 80 21 22 -25 43
D. Stafford 70 16 18 -19 34
C. Ehrhoff 79 6 27 -27 33
C. Stewart 63 15 11 0 26
C. Conacher 79 7 19 1 26
T. Myers 62 9 13 -26 22
Z. Girgensons 70 8 14 -6 22
M. Foligno 74 7 12 -17 19
J. McBain 69 6 11 -13 17
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
M. Neuvirth 4 8 2 .921 2.78
J. Enroth 4 17 5 .911 2.82