'Paille jumped three spots to finish the season as NHL Central Scouting's 12th-ranked North American prospect. The runner-up as best body checker in the Ontario Hockey League's Western Conference, the 6-foot, 200-pounder has been likened to Boston Bruins' prospect Andy Hilbert.'
'Ballard was ranked just 19th among North American prospects by NHL Central Scouting after helping Minnesota capture the NCAA championships as a freshman. Slightly undersized at 5-11 and 196 pounds, Ballard is an offensive-minded defenseman who had 22 goals and 29 assists in 56 games with Omaha of the U.S. Hockey League in 2000-01.'
'The move is seen as the first step toward the sale of the Sabres. It does not, however, appear to be the first step toward the sale of the Sabres to Paul Allen and a move to Portland. Although the timing is interesting, given the City Council's likely approval next week of an incentive deal requested by Trail Blazers executives and designed to make Portland more attractive for relocation, there is little evidence the Sabres will become Portland's team.'
'[Q:] Can anyone run the team at anywhere near the break-even mark? [A:] The key may lie in the new owner's also purchasing the Empire Sports Network and control of the HSBC Arena lease.'
'For the second offseason in a row, the Sabres could make a major splash by trading a goaltender, easily the team's deepest position. Superstar Dominik Hasek was dealt last year. This time it could be one of the prized prospects: Mika Noronen or Ryan Miller.'
'"We're not in a position where we're selling off players," Regier said. "We're going to try and make this as competitive a hockey club as we possibly can."'
'Sabres general manager Darcy Regier said he has a budget that's similar to the one he operated under last year and that his payroll would be similar. "We have some money because we've had a 70-per-cent renewal on our season tickets, and I feel good about what's happening," Regier said.'
'The Sabres owe Adelphia in the neighborhood of 150 million dollars. Most of that money is reportedly tied to HSBC Arena expenses. Erie County Executive Joel Giambra said, "Based on recent information I have, that the building doesn't lose as much money as purported in the past."'
In a matter of two months, John Rigas's fortune has dissipated so rapidly that he is on the verge of declaring bankruptcy and the Buffalo Sabres had to be taken over by the National Hockey League. It was like a snowball gathering speed and size as it traveled down the mountain top.
For the former Pickering Panther, signing a contract took a lot of weight off his shoulders as it ended two years of uncertainty about whether he would ever sign with the Sabres, which drafted him in the eighth round, 258th overall.
Bettman said the NHL is seeking a local buyer for the Sabres, who joined the league as an expansion team in 1970, and that Adelphias financial situation wont affect the sale of the team.
'NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman, during and after a 40-minute news conference dominated by the Sabres' situation, repeatedly emphasized Thursday that the league is dealing only with potential investors who would keep the team in Buffalo.'
'When several other outstanding financial items are tallied, including a $300,000 debt the city owes to the Sabres, officials estimate that the hockey team owes Buffalo between $1.5 million and $1.7 million.'
'Regardless of who owns the Sabres, the front office isn't interested in bringing aboard any unrestricted free agents this offseason. The Sabres instead will concentrate only on signing their nine restricted free agents.'
'I hope Gary Bettman understands how important Buffalo is to his league. I hope he realizes that the Knoxes and the Rigases never really owned the team. The Sabres belong to the people of Buffalo, to the hockey fans. They have the kind of ownership that's backed not by money but by memories, by the currency of human emotion.'