Niagara Gazette

Pro Sports

December 8, 2007

TIM SCHMITT: Sabres-Amerks split makes Quinn, Donner look foolish

Before Friday, I was sad. Sad that two franchises as interwoven as the Sabres and Amerks couldn’t settle their differences. Sad that two or maybe three egos were finding a way to foul up what’s been a special relationship for almost three decades.

Sad that sister cities with few other ties would be further estranged.

But after leaning on a rail in the south end of Blue Cross Arena on Friday, enjoying a couple beverages and watching the Amerks duke it out with the Toronto Marlies, I’ve pushed beyond sad.

Absolutely ticked is more like it.

Nail this down to one simple sentence — both Larry Quinn and Steve Donner are incompetent. If you haven’t noticed, Quinn’s second term near the top of the Sabres food chain has included a number of peculiar decisions, including a since-reversed policy to avoid negotiations until after the fact. He appears to be the mastermind behind a recent power play that either tried to stiff-arm Donner into selling the Amerks or forced a new set of rules on the franchise.

That’s the way Quinn works. Think about most of the decisions he’s had a hand in. Buffalo fans didn’t want a new logo. Quinn didn’t care. Buffalo fans wanted the team to soften its stance on dealing with Chris Drury and Daniel Briere. Quinn didn’t care.

And Buffalo fans want to travel an hour to see their farm team.

Quinn obviously doesn’t care.

But let’s not give Donner any sort of free pass here. Not even close. He’s taken one of the most successful minor-league franchises in history and cannonballed it into red ink.

When I watched the Amerks drop a 5-2 decision to Toronto on Friday, the crowd was announced at 8,702. I stood in a line about a half-dozen deep to get a Blue Light at the end of the first period. Parking wasn’t easy to find.

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