Jim Balsillie: How Moving the Coyotes to Hamilton Will Save the Sabres’ Fans


Okay, before all the Buffalo Sabres fans jump down my throat and call me the Anti-Christ, hear me out. If Jim Balsillie was awarded the Phoenix Coyotes and subsequently allowed the move to Hamilton, it could become a Buffalo Sabres fans dream.

Here’s why.

Let’s look at a few aspects of the Buffalo Sabres organization as a whole and just see what could be improved. The Sabres ownership is primarily run by two people, Tom Golisano and Larry Quinn. Quinn is the managing partner and minority owner of the Sabres. Golisano is the money and power, so to speak. Nothing pertaining to money spent does not happen without Tommy G putting his stamp of approval on it first. 

Some may look at this and say, “Okay, Ron, big deal. Every team has an owner that has a say in team’s operation.”

Yes, very true, but how many teams have multiple owners that have no hockey background as the Buffalo Sabres have? Quinn, a real estate and land developer by trade, has been with the organization multiple times and honestly has shown little in the way of forward thinking with this team since the day he his second term.

Golisano, on the other hand, is a self-made billionaire of a business called Paychex. Again, no hockey background to speak of. But one thing Golisano does possess is a second-to-none business sense. He understands the value of a dollar and knows what it takes to make money. That being said, how does Balsillie moving a team to Hamilton make the Buffalo Sabres’ fans happy?

The NHL is a business—just like anything else. It thrives on planting a butt every 12 inches in an arena. With the current state of the local and national economy, some teams have made cutbacks to ensure that they will stay viable through the hardship. But a guy like Balsillie comes along and gets awarded the Coyotes franchise that moves close to Buffalo with a promise of $150 million in improvements.

One can only think that a man like Balsillie who has a voracious appetite about getting a team would not accept anything less than success from his franchise. That alone may force the Buffalo Sabres brass to sit and take a long hard look at what they have done and which direction this team is headed.

As Quinn said, a team in Hamilton could be a big hit to the Buffalo Sabres franchise, in terms of attendance. Well, I guess Quinn and Golisano would have to work that much harder to make sure the product on the ice is a quality one in which thousands of people would sell their right arm to attend.

Buffalo Sabres fans are starting to get sick of status quo from this team. The bottom line is that winning fixes problems and sells tickets. The Sabres have been lucky over the last two seasons to have as many fans attending their games as they do; the lack of a quality product will soon cause regular attendees to shy away from buying tickets and find better ways to spend their hard earned money.

Even worse, the casual fans that can either only afford to go once in a while or only care to go once in a while will turn away completely from overspending to attend a game that fails to entertain anyone besides popcorn vendors.

This is big business, but is nothing more than K Mart trying to compete with Wal-Mart for the tough-to-earn consumer dollar. And like any other business, you can only take so much ringamoro before you shop elsewhere. Balsillie would make this team sharpen their collective pencils and actually force them to show they care about the fans and not just the profits they claim they do not make. Please let Balsillie get that franchise. I have a sneaking feeling Sabres fans, in the end, will be much happier.

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