Think the Sabres aren’t serious about the future? Then you didn’t notice where Darcy Regier’s post-arbitration interviews came from this week.

Regier hightailed it back to the Pepsi Center most afternoons for the Sabres rookie camp, gathering as much info about guys like Patrick Kaleta and Michael Funk as possible.

The idea of a rookie camp isn’t new to the Sabres, they ran them prior to the lockout. But the idea that the camp might be grooming someone for this year’s club is novel.

For example, Daniel Paille, who spent the year in Rochester, isn’t here to stay loose. He’s in Amherst because he knows he could follow in the skateprints of Derek Roy and Jason Pominville. And don’t count out former first rounder Drew Stafford, who’s got the tools the Sabres are looking for.

Drafting and developing talent in the NHL has always been an inexact and painstaking art, but with the emphasis on younger, faster talent, it’s become even more vital.

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Although the emphasis is on the future, the Sabres seem committed to adding enough payroll to make a serious run this season.

The reason? The fan base.

At the press conference announcing the old logo’s return, Larry Quinn said full season-ticket packages were over 12,000. That’s more than the team had after figuring 10-packs and other marketing tricks in 2005. Although the size of HSBC won’t allow comparisons to the ‘70s, when tickets were nearly impossible to find, it could mean most big games will be sold out.

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Here’s the good news — Ed McLaughlin seems a great fit for the Niagara University athletics director job. He’s young, personable and has fundraising as a strength on his resume.

But this begs a bigger question — how long will he stay?

If the Purple Eagles become dominant in, say, men’s hockey, why wouldn’t McLaughlin jump back to New England, where hockey has stronger roots?

McLaughlin went to Boston College, worked at Merrimack College and loves the Red Sox. If he finds a way to get additions to the hockey rink, help keep the men’s basketball team among the conference’s elite and improve the school’s outdoor facilities, won’t a bigger school come calling?

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And speaking of McLaughlin, it’s interesting how the criteria for hiring athletics directors has changed. UB’s Warde Manuel, who took over last year, is already being lauded for success in finding big bucks. It’s one thing to know talent and hire good coaches, but let’s face facts, university trustees now ask for the bottom line above all else.

Having good connections or knowing how to cultivate young talent is great, but milking alums and corporate sponsors is what gets you the biggest office.

In McLaughlin’s case, it’s not that big.

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Meet the new boss, same as the old boss. The Bills finally smartened up and realized that a high first-round offensive lineman that didn’t have the heart to be an anchor wasn’t worth headaches.

In comes the new regime, bringing 375-pounder Aaron Gibson, considered to be one of the Lions’ biggest draft busts ever.

And that’s saying something.

Contact group sports editor Tim Schmitt at 282-2311, Ext. 2266.

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