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SLY NOTES: CHECKING IN FROM FLORIDA

Wednesday, 02.09.2011 / 10:58 AM / Blogs - Kevin Sylvester
By Kevin Sylvester  - Sabres "Hockey Hotline" Host
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SLY NOTES: CHECKING IN FROM FLORIDA
-I’m writing this week’s version while aboard the team flight to Florida.  I just had to write that sentence to make my friends jealous of the three-and-a-half non-shoveling days ahead of me in the Sunshine State.

-Speaking of friends, college buddy and former forward for the Fredonia State Blue Devils Craig Conley was part of Jeremy Roenick’s crew on the recent episode of All-Star Celebrity Treasure Hunt (at least I think that’s the title of the show; we’ll find out if Rob, the site’s editor, is fact checking).   Craig was the good-looking one buried in the coffin screaming his lungs out.  Nice job, Craig!

Photo: AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar
-The Penguins’ new building is a beauty down in Pittsburgh.   They thought of nearly everything, including room for the telecasts to operate without interference.  That’s not usually the case.  And the Penguins’ dressing room is downright spectacular.  

-I agree with my 6-year-old son who thinks there are way too many commercials before they even kick off the Super Bowl. 

-Christina Aguilera proved once again that the Star Spangled Banner is one of the most difficult songs to perform well.  However, it does help to use all of the lyrics. 

-Now, what you’ve all probably been waiting to read, my thoughts on ownership.  As of right now, there’s not much I can tell you about incoming owner Terry Pegula.  I did meet him before the game in Pittsburgh and he seems like a Buffalo kind of guy.  Along with all of you, I look forward to hearing from him soon.  What I will offer is some thoughts on outgoing owners Tom Golisano and Larry Quinn (I am excluding Dan DiPofi on purpose since he’s staying on board for a while and because not one reporter asked him a question during an hour-long press conference.  They missed out). 

I’ll start with Tom Golisano, who from the day I first met him insisted I call him Tom.  That was not unique to me.  He insisted everybody call him Tom and not Mr. Golisano.  You might think ‘so what’, but I found it to make him more accessible.  So did the occasional bubble hockey battle with him either before or after a game.  I believe I told this story on MSG one night, but it’s worth repeating.  Larry came to my office about an hour-and-a-half before a game and asked, “What are you doing right now?”  Trying to look like the hardest-working employee on the planet I responded, “Nothing, why?”    He then said “I need you to go play bubble hockey with Tom.”  Tom won the best-of-five series, easily I might add.  In recent years, there were some big-time friends he would have as guests in his suite.  Former President Bill Clinton, actor James Woods and tennis great Monica Seles come to mind.  That was cool.  In the end, he made an investment that saved the franchise from relocation or worse, almost won the sport’s top prize, had a few laughs along the way, and was rewarded with a profit upon selling it. 

Larry Quinn deserves a lot more credit that he gets from media and fans.  Rob Ray made an excellent comment about him on a recent radio show.  Razor described Larry this way: “Unless you know the man, you don’t know what he’s really all about.  He’s always thinking, creating ideas.”  I paraphrased as I don’t remember it verbatim, but it’s appropriate.  He loves Buffalo and the Sabres .  He does things differently because he thinks differently. I learned to embrace it and learn from it as best I could.  There were at least a handful of occasions that I came away from a conversation with him thinking that I hadn’t considered the point of view he presented.  He also has given me and other co-workers tremendous creative freedom over the years.  He never told me what to say on the show or that we went too far in criticism after a loss. I would hear from others that he didn’t like this or that from time to time, but there was never a conversation on what not to do.  It was always about what to do or what could be done.  Larry also trusted us.  That was appreciated, especially when you needed accurate information for background on a story or angle for the show.   The Winter Classic wouldn’t be what it is today without his vision for it.  The Blue and Gold colors and logo are back because of him.  Lindy Ruff is here because of him.  And the team is still here because he convinced Tom Golisano to save it.  

-Speaking of teams for sale, what is the deal this year in the league?  The Coyotes have yet to close, the Dallas Stars are still seeking an owner, the Atlanta owners are reportedly suing over a failed sale, the Devils minority shares are being marketed, and there were rumors that the Maple Leafs may change hands.  Each case is unique, but it just seems weird with the timing all coming together.

-I hope to see you all at Aces & Blades this Friday at HSBC Arena.  It’s a great time to mingle at the Sabres “Casino” while benefitting the Buffalo Sabres Foundation.

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