Ownership Change in Buffalo should mean Big Changes
The Buffalo Sabres may be headed in a new direction early in 1998. Some time this week Buffalo long confused ownership question will finally be resolved. Lifetime owners Nortrup Knox and John O. Swados are being forced out by minority owner John Rigas, owner of Adelphia Cable. Rigas is rumored to finally be taken full control. The ownership change has been rumored for some time but the situation changed rapidly on Friday, after Sabres management struggled to make payrole. The team has reportedly lost some 32 million dollars over the last three years and were is desperate financial shape. Rigas, a Sabres minority owner since 1994, has slowly been buying up shares of the club and he currently owns around 49% of the team. However no one really knows for sure. Rigas though has been the Sabres primary financial backer over the last three seasons. The trouble has been that Buffalo has always been run by a limited partnership, wherein the five most prominent owners voted on everything. Rigas often lost during the voting and therefore he has no real power, dispite his financial clout. Rigas was an huge backer of former coach Ted Nolan and he was very upset after he was basically run-out-of-town. Once he gains full control, Rigas will probably make sweeping changes. Many feel he will fire team President Larry Quinn, a vastly unpopular person in the Buffalo community. Also on the possible hit list are current General Manager Darcy Regier, current coaches Lindy Ruff and Mike Rasmey, along with other front office personel. Quinn is viewed as an ego manic who has desided to mettle in hockey affairs dispite not having any hockey background. Many feel it was Quinns decision to dump Nolan and Pat LaFonatine. Regier would go simply because he was hired as a pure yes sir man to Quinn. Ruff only mistake was taking the job. He will likely be fired so the vastly popular Nolan could return. That move would more than likely instantly fill the arena, something Buffalo is not currently doing. Current assistent GM Larry Cariere would more than likely become the new GM and it is possible he would also become the team President. How will these changes effect Buffalo prospects? It’s far too early to know for sure, but Rigas, a very smart businessmen, knows he must sell out the Marine Midland Arena if he is to survive here in Buffalo. He can not do so with the current club. Though axing Quinn and company will bring some people back, only Ted Nolan can bring everyone back, but how long will they stay if the team continues it’s poor play? Rigas may open up his wallet and order the new GM to get better players. In simpler terms spend money to make money, put a better hockey team on the ice and the fans will return for good. That could mean the wholesale dumping of many of Buffalo top prospects simply because that is the only thing Buffalo currently has to deal.
More to come on this story.