Niagara Gazette

March 29, 2009

TIM'S TAKES: Leafs' success important to Sabres

By Tim Schmitt

Leafs’ success important to Sabres

As crazy as it sounds, as the Toronto Maple Leafs continue to wallow near the bottom of the Eastern Conference, the Sabres are the ones who suffer. Toronto makes its money either way. The Leafs are a lock to sellout Air Canada Centre.

But when they’re bad, fewer fans seem to be willing to ante up the big bucks the Sabres charge for premium games.

There were plenty of pockets of empty seats on Friday, and if the Leafs get worse before they get better, it’ll be an even tougher sell.

With the economy the way it is, a sound Leafs organization is crucial to the Sabres’ success.

It’s OK to shake your head while thinking about it.

Ralph rumors made for wild night

I haven’t seen many scenes like the one in the press box after the rumor that Ralph Wilson died on Friday.

The hoax got rolling just before the 11 o’clock hour, meaning TV stations were pushing for the story. Newspaper guys were also in a tizzy.

I got 50 texts in a matter of 10 minutes, including radio, newspaper and TV guys all hot for the story. A friend from Arizona even texted to get the scoop.

There wasn’t one, of course. The whole thing was simply a fabrication.

Two observations about the sonic boom it set off — people have become attached to the team’s owner, and boy are they nervous about the franchise’s stability in his passing.

Schedule sets up well for UB

Give the guys over at UB credit — their upcoming football schedule is just about everything you could hope for. One big home game (Pitt), one cream puff (Gardner-Webb) and a stretch of four home games in the first seven weeks.

It all sets up for a decent run. Getting along without Drew Willy will by no means be easy. But with warmer games, a better chance of getting off to a strong conference mark, and a big-time opponent coming to Amherst, these might be season tickets worth buying.