Monday, August 2, 2010

My Letter to Tom Golisano (Plus, it has some of my thoughts on the Sabres summer)

Dear Tom,

I'm sure you must be reading this letter atop your million dollar penthouse balcony in Florida; overlooking the ocean and loving the fact that you don't have to pay outrageous NYS taxes. Maybe the sun or Monica Seles have been frying your brain as of late, but I'd like to remind you that you still own a hockey team. You remember them. You bought the team for the inexpensive price of 60-80 million bucks. Hell, for that rate, Jim Kelly and his former teammates could have actually achieved their dream of owning a team in Buffalo.

Of course, people thought the purchase was nothing more than you saving a hockey team. However, after seven years of running the franchise, I think we can all assume that you were in it for the money. Your motives had nothing to do with helping out WNY or winning a Stanley Cup. I'm sure your homeboy, Larry Quinn, mentioned how the money that the NHL was asking for the team were pennies for a sports franchise.

Hell, you've even admitted that you had only watched three hockey games prior to buying the club. You weren't like Jerry Jones or Mark Cuban, who had always dreamed about owning a professional sports team. I remember when you actually bought the team, I was really excited about it because you were filthy, stinken rich. Some in the media even said that you resembled a hockey version of George Steinbrenner. Well, I guess they must have been talking about the actor who played George on "Seinfeld."

Of course, there were moments that owning the team had become a dream for you. You loved being the head honcho after the lockout. It was the first time in your political career that NYS voters were actually supporting you. Hell, at one point, you could have ran for Governor again and wouldn't have to spend a dime on campaign funds in WNY. We loved you and you knew that. Like all politicians, you couldn't pass up a photo op.

Of course, your version of a photo op consisted of you being shown at every single Sabres game, laughing and greeting anyone that was thankful for you buying the team. You never turned down an interview request and was even getting a large contingent of Buffalo fans wanting you to buy the Bills. Everything was perfect...


You didn't realize that you were working in the world of professional sports. You didn't understand that like the cost of living, the expenses of owning a sports franchise are always going up. You then didn't understand the concept of "whatever god has giveth, it shall be taken away" (Or something like that). All the credit that you received after the lockout was taken away in one fell swoop during the summer of 2007. Whoever you want to blame in that mess, money was the root of it. You didn't want to pay that sort of money for star players and probably thought you would still get worshiped by WNY. Sorry, but you are only as good as your last game.

You must have been shocked to read the headlines in TBN and to hear people bashing you on WGR. Now, what do politicians do when a scandal breaks out? They can either fight the scandal or go into hiding, and because you didn't have to worry about being impeached, you could just ignore the naysayers and go into a foxhole. Since the start of the 2007 season, you have been to as many Sabres games as Chris Drury and Daniel Briere.

To be frank, you lost intrest. You saw how the fans didn't care anymore about you saving the team. And because no one wanted to shake your hand and worship the ground you walked on, you just took your party down to Florida. You decided to view the Sabres as nothing more than an investment with no bloodline attached to it. No emotion. Nothing.

I'm sure if the Sabres were near and dear to your heart, like a political party, the team would be leading all the polls in contending for a Cup. Hell, you're the same guy who put millions of dollars of your own money into a political run that had no chance of winning. As long as Larry Quinn is mailing you a monthly check and the team is profiting, everything is good in your world.

Of course, you can't let the public in on your charade. You need the Sabres flunkies or apologists to try and brainwash the general public. You have to make all of the sheep believe that you are building a team for the Stanley Cup. You have your PR people build up all these young kids as the second coming by having open practices for rookies.

I swear, we have to be the only hockey market in the country that gives a crap about our prospects in minors or the OHL. Very smooth. I'm sure Larry Quinn had a hand in devising a strategy to advertise the future as a selling point to the fans. Hell, if I even mention Tyler Ennis going to Chicago for Patrick Sharp, I'm renounced as a jackass on Twitter because he's a "Can't miss kid."

Another thing you've added to your PR campaign, is that whenever Sabres fans are at their angriest, you always have your top lieutenants act as if change is on the horizon. Case in point, when the Sabres didn't make the playoffs last year, Mr. Bass Pro himself, Larry Quinn, mentioned how the team was going to have the biggest top to bottom evaluation in the history of the franchise. Fans were naive to think that the Sabres would actually do some house cleaning. Sorry, but as much as I like Mike Grier and Steve Montador, those signings don't equate to major change.

Then came this year, after a disappointing playoff exit against the Bruins, Quinn and Regier put on a press conference that would have gained a standing ovation from the folks on Broadway. Tears shed, emotion was spent, lips were quivering, it looked as if the Sabres brass were giving a eulogy. They talked about change and how losing in the playoffs was unacceptable. People acted as if this was going to be the offseason that the team would be given the tools to finish the job. Of course, nothing really changed. What's going to be the PR statement next year if the Sabres fail? Are you going to come out of hiding and say that you're moving back to NYS, so you can keep a better eye on the team? Yeah, that will get people hoping. I can only assume that you think fans will forget about the promises your staff has made because of other distractions, like the weather getting better and how the city is such a great place during the summer. Well, I'm not there and I don't forget.

As for the actual improvements for the team, I'm Sorry, but I didn't come away from the Boston series saying that the Sabres really needed a 3rd and 4th defenseman and another two-way player that will get 8-10 goals. This team is pretty much the same as last year's squad. Sure, you changed a couple of jersey numbers, but the weak core remains the same and that shouldn't be the case.

The Sabres biggest problem was that their top six forwards weren't good enough. We have had the same core now for the last three years and you continue to ignore their shortcomings. Guys like Derek Roy, Jason Pominville and Tim Connolly were the ones that cost the Sabres in the playoffs. Not Tim Kennedy (more on him later) or Toni Lydman.

Now, if you wanted to try and solve the problem, it was going to cost you anywhere between 4-5 million dollars to actually bring in guys who can put the puck in the net. That's the going rate for the standard NHL top 6 forward. It's a lot easier to give 1-year deals to guys that make less than a million dollars.

Then came today's dealings with Kennedy. Now, I am going to be honest with you, I probably wouldn't have even noticed if Kennedy was playing for the Sabres next year. He's a nice player with a good upside, but he was hardly a game changer for the team. I'm also not the type of fan who gets all emotional about having a player from Buffalo on the Sabres squad. I know if this was Matt Ellis getting waived after going to arbitration, there wouldn't have been that much of an uproar. But that fact that you didn't want to give a player, who is the epitome of what you guys have been selling us, a $200,000 raise, reeks of greed. He deserved the money.

Kennedy may as well be the poster boy for your "system." A guy that started his career in the minors and was being touted as a "Can't miss prospect." I understand exactly what you idiots mean by "The System." I know that if you can have all your homegrown players come from the minors, they won't be making serious coin until they hit the age of 27. That gives you a nice 4-5 year stretch at a very low price for a homegrown guy. That's why we will never see a trade involving Ennis or Gerbe for Patrick Sharp. You would then have to pay a guy like Sharp right away, instead of waiting till 2015. Buy low and give away high is your motto.

What makes the Kennedy move even more ridiculous is that this isn't some guy that was going from 2-million dollars a year to 7-million for the next five. This was a lousy difference of $200,000. You know how many sports owners would waste $200,000 to start a camp fire or burn it to light a Cuban cigar? That amount of money is nothing! It's nothing in the sports world!!!

My god, no wonder you idiots don't have HD games or post game shows on the road. If you are this cheap to give a $200,000 raise to someone, then I may as well prepare myself to squint for the next 10 years while watching analog Sabres television.

Now, I know you guys just signed Shaone Morrisonn from Washington. I know he seems like an adequate stay at home defenseman, who can block shots and hit. As of now, I'm not sure what the guy is going to be pulling in money wise. I can only assume that he'll make around 2-million a year (like he made with the caps). Of course, I know the signing will soften the blow of Kennedy leaving and will make apologists come out in droves and claim that the Sabres aren't cheap.

However, what lights a fire under my ass is why the Sabres can't have their cake and eat it too. The way it looks, you must have given Regier a budget and he was painted into a corner, deciding on whether to choose between Morrison and Kennedy. Again, it's a million bucks added to a payroll that isn't even close to the cap. Again, it just reeks of penny pinchers.

(BTW, I just want to make something clear. I know that you and Quinn will talk about how the Sabres are small market and that making a profit is like moving heaven and earth. Sorry, but unlike the majority of Sabres fans that live in a hockey fishbowl, I live in an area where I've met a ton of sports fans, who are transplants from all over the country and they don't even mention the word "hockey." Cities like Atlanta, Miami, Tampa, Dallas and Phoenix are almost double the size of Buffalo, yet they can't even get 12,000 people to watch a hockey game. It's a niche sport that will never be more than that.)

Anyways, this letter isn't meant to be just a WGR whiner line call. This is actually a request. Please, sell the team! You can make at least a 200% return on your original investment. Sell the team to someone that actually wants to win a cup first and foremost. Not someone like you, who probably turns down the air conditioner at the Arena at 3pm. Not an owner like you, who has created more jersey designs than actual homegrown stars. I want an owner who gets pissed off whenever the Sabres fail. Not someone, who sits in Florida and is popping Viagra to keep up with Monica Seles.

All insults and kidding aside, you have to understand that the NHL isn't getting cheaper. What the hell is going to happen when Tyler Myers becomes a free agent? What is going to happen when the salary cap goes up to 65 million dollars? Are you going to make the Buffalo Sabres into the NHL's version of the KC Royals? Hell, as of now, we are nothing more than a poor man's version of the Minnesota Twins.

You're in the sunshine state, so go and carpetbag your way into the hearts of Florida's political ring. Maybe the Panthers will declare bankruptcy soon and you can buy the team and perform your version of "flip this franchise."

I'm just over it, Tom. I'm over fans trying to over analyze your motives as being good for the franchise. I'm over Darcy Regier acting like an accountant, rather than a GM. I'm over Larry Quinn going over a stats book about puck possession or being tied for 14th in playoff appearances. I'm just done with it. Enough.

Maybe if this was 2005 again and a $5 million contract wasn't the norm, we can then get along. However, salaries aren't going down anytime soon and I can only imagine what your face is going to look like when you see what Tyler Myers is asking for in 2012. Hell, if anyone made out today, it's Darcy Regier. I feel bad that he can't even give a raise to someone that deserved it. I've always said, look at the moves Darcy pulled off before you bought the team. It's like comparing what Ralph Wilson did with and without Bill Polian.

Just sell the team, please. I assure you, I'll attend a Tom Golisano appreciation night after the sale. I'll even be cool with the Sabres naming a luxury box after you. If Buffalo is so special to you, you can always build an anchor on the waterfront. It's just...sports aren't your thing anymore and frankly, I don't think it ever was.


  1. Hey, man - I TOTALLY agree with what you are saying, but you should have just stuck to hockey. If I were Golisano and were reading this, I would have stopped after all the personal attacks in the first few paragraphs.

    If you really want to make a point, stick to the hockey facts. Who knows - Golisano might actually read it then!

  2. Dude, even if God wrote this, Golisano wasn't reading this.

  3. Why would Golisano write a letter to himself?

  4. He didn't write it. This was me venting to him and asking him to sell the Sabres,

  5. when tom g. moved to FL from NY he was quoted as saying he paid the equivalent of 13,000.00 a DAY in taxes which he saved by getting out of Dodge.
    Hmmmmm....13,000 times 360 days (in a calendar year ) is 4.68 Million!
    No money available to spend on the team?

  6. we'll spoken.. i loved this rant, and agree totally! this team isnt going to the promise land on toms dime unless he starts paying out for some talent. its a dirty system of not paying talented youngsters, but its producing some of the best young talent coming up. i truely believe this team was a danny briere away from a real cup shot, meaning, had he gotten the deal he deserved in buffalo lord stanley may have found a new home on the lake erie waterfront last year. anyways.. joe.. keep fighting the good fight

  7. Amen brother. Bad business move toantagonize the team's fanbase. Ownership is disinterested,disloyal and arrogant. Green Bay Packers owned by shareholders is a model for the Sabres to stay in Buffalo and win. Then Tom can focus on Monica Seles and his legacy.

  8. Joe, your sarcasm detector is broken, i was calling Golisano God as a joke