Despite two straight non-playoff seasons and yet another uneventful offseason, the Buffalo Sabres announced Tuesday they have capped their season tickets for the 2009-10 season at 14,825, a 500 ticket increase from last season.

Earlier this summer, the team announced a 95 percent season ticket renewal.

A total of 1,200 season tickets were then made available to the team's Blue and Gold Club members. Outside of the 14,825 season tickets sold, the team will also offer mini packs.

Last season the Sabres' attendance ranked 11th in the NHL, averaging more than 18,500 (99.2 percent) fans per game during 41 home games at the HSBC Arena.

To look at the 2009-10 Sabres schedule and purchase tickets, visit Sabres.com.

The latest information to hit my desk!

Good evening ladies and gentlemen! This next piece if inside information will make you excited, whether or not you're a fan of the Buffalo Sabres.

Before I get to the actual info, let me say that I wanted so badly to keep the title of this article short by omitting the "Miroslav," but how strange would a headline be if it read, "Buffalo Sabres to Bring Back Satan"?

Next thing you know, people would be accusing me of calling Tom Golisano, an occult leader and disciple of Anton LaVey. But that's beside the point. To the rumor we go!

One time Buffalo Sabre winger Miroslav Satan is quietly still on the free agent market with no place to call home.

The Penguins will not bring him back and there are no teams seriously interested in him. Our source close to Sabres management has informed us that they are making a serious push for Satan.

He will come at an affordable rate and can still put the puck in the net. It is expected the Sabres will go all out to land this free agent.

Satan to Buffalo: HRB 5

 

By Leopold

HRB Correspondent

"We're happy with the core of our team. We'll continue to grow. Our guys are more than capable of making the playoffs."

How many times in recent years have Buffalo Sabres fans heard this?

Enough already.

After two-straight non playoff seasons, it is same old, same old in Sabreland.

"I like what we have here as a team, and these guys can continue to grow," said Lindy Ruff in an article featured in The Buffalo News.

"I'm Ok going in," Ruff said. "We were pretty close to being where we wanted to be, and a couple disappointing things happened, and we ended up not getting there. The fact that we were able to put on a strong finish was something that I really felt was important for our team."

Really?

The first two weeks of free agency brought plenty of trades and signings, most notably in the Northeast Division of the Eastern Conference.

Sabres' rivals—Toronto Maple Leafs, Montreal Canadiens, and Ottawa Senators—have all made noise in some way or another; not to mention the first place Boston Bruins, who we all know will be just as strong next season.

The Sabres on the other hand, lost Jaroslav Spacek to the Canadiens, and added journeyman defenseman, Steve Montador.

Not a bad addition, considering Montador's size and toughness, as well as a $1.5 million per price tag.

But in no way does he replace a 45-point producing defenseman.

Going into this offseason I was almost certain more dramatic changes would be made—significant changes that would help lift the team back to the top of the Eastern Conference, as they were three seasons ago.

Contrary to the beliefs and comments from Ruff and Darcy Regier, the core isn't good enough. The team still lacks an above-average defenseman to anchor the blueline, as well as secondary scoring, size and toughness.

Sabres fans should be heated when excuses are made for last season's debacle.

"We were knocking on the middle of the Eastern Conference when Ryan [Miller] got hurt. We can't stand around and make excuses, but you can explain sometimes why you didn't get there, and I think that's one explanation," Ruff said.

The Sabres are extremely confident with their core players—Derek Roy, Thomas Vanek, Jason Pominville, and Tim Connolly—players who may have underachieved the past two seasons, but also showed signs of an inability to carry the full load.

"I expect more to come from within," he said. "I think that we have more there. We've got a [Jason] Pominville that can have a better year. We've got a [Drew] Stafford that can continue to grow, and I think with Timmy [Connolly] healthy he can make some players around him better. I think we've got some young guys that can step in and make a difference."

I do not have a problem with the young guns stepping in, but we still have no idea how they will perform under a full-season's work.

Ruff and Regier have both expressed great confidence in guys such as Chris Butler, Andrej Sekera, Mike Weber, Tim Kennedy, Nathan Gerbe, and Tyler Myers, to name a few.

With the departure of Spacek, the Sabres need to fill the void left at the offensive defenseman position, as well as in their own end.

Butler and Sekera will unquestionably have expanded roles next season. Both are extremely good skaters, and are talented both offensively and defensively.

Sekera, who was primed to be a replacement for Brian Campbell, struggled during some parts of the season, and was even benched for a game due to a personal lack of confidence in his game.

After all, he was a rookie. Hopefully next season he will mature into the above-average puck-moving defenseman he can be.

Butler, however, was a very pleasant surprise for Ruff, as well as Sabres fans.

The 6'1"-185 lbs D-man laced up for 47 games last season, recording six points (two goals, four assists). Usually paired with captain Craig Rivet, Butler played as soundly as a 22-year-old rookie can possibly play.

Next season, we'll likely get more of a glimpse of his offensive ability to go along with his strong defense.

Gerbe and Kennedy will both battle for full-time roster spots this offseason. Both had outstanding rookie campaigns while playing for Portland.

Kennedy, a South Buffalo native, recorded 67 points (18 goals, 49 assists) in 73 games for the Pirates—tied for the team lead with Mark Mancari. Kennedy also suited up once last season for his hometown team, failing to get on the stat sheet.

Gerbe, on the other hand, played 10 games for Buffalo, recording only one assist. He was, however, named the AHL's Most Outstanding Rookie for the 2008-09 season, recording 56 points (30 goals, 26 assists) in 57 games.

Both players will battle for voids left in the team's depth chart, as Dominic Moore, Maxim Afinogenov, and Andrew Peters will have new homes next season.

The real question is, should the Sabres be relying on these unproven youngsters, or should they explore the trade market?

 

The Buffalo News contributed to this article

 

 

 

"HSBC ASAP" the text read. I was pretty sure Brave-Throat didn't mean One HSBC Center.

So I broke the limit on the 400 to the Thruway to the Niagara Extension. Two wheels on the ramp at Church Street. I didn't know what else to do, so pulled up right in front.

It was his favorite time, around three o'clock in the morning.

Sure enough. The black stretch was waiting for me. But this time he was getting out. "Come with me, Howell," he said.

I followed him. He didn't have keys but every door opened for him.

Into the center. Lights were coming on automatically a step ahead of us. Soon enough we were inside the arena. There was hardwood on the floor. It was the old Braves floor. Exactly as it was in the Aud.

"Everything's ready, Johnny," he said, a sudden softness in his voice. He took off the shades. I saw a tear in his eye. He stared at me.

"You don't recognize me, do you?" He asked.

"You look familiar," I said.

"But you just can't place me?"

"Yeah," I said, sheepishly. He took off the hat. The same hat he'd worn every time we've met. A New Era 5950 Braves cap.

"My God!" I said, suddenly getting it. "I thought you were dead!"

"So did I," he said, smirking. "Actually..."

"No!" I said. I thought I knew what he was going to say and I didn't want to face that possibility.

"It's fine, Johnny, don't worry. I'm a good ghost, not a bad one."

"You've been with them, haven't you?" I asked. Asked-- but I knew the answer without asking.

"Yep. There certainly is such a thing as purgatory," he said. "I've been stuck in the damn Aud with the Spirit of the Braves since I kicked the bucket. And now Randy's there too. Except-- now... we've all been released."

Released but not redeemed, I thought. Not yet anyway.

"What's new, Harry?" I had to say it. After all, he'd been asking, and answering, that question for decades at the old Courier Express.    

It makes perfect sense. No one loved the Braves more than Phil Ranallo, except, perhaps, me, and the Wendels, who wrote the Braves book, and John Boutet, at Buffalo Sports Museum.

He was reading my mind, but then, he always did. "That's right, Johnny boy. No one loved the Braves more than me-- and you, and a few of our other friends, and each of you has a role in this. The Wendels wrote the book. Boutet is pushing for the Museum and-- more importantly for my purposes-- the banner, keeping the Braves in the public consciousness now more than ever. And your job is to keep writing these articles, whenever I call you. Keep turning it up a notch. Keep calling the fans home. And--"

And I knew exactly what was coming next – the hard part – 

"Raise the damn money, Howell. Come on. I expected you'd have a few million by now. Get with it, man. The season starts in weeks."

"You don't expect me to get this done before next season?"

"Howell?" It was that Tony Soprano tone again.

I turned around and there was no Ranallo. No limo. No basketball floor on top of the ice. It was as if I had dreamed the whole thing. Except I was standing in the Arena, no dreaming about that.

I guess, now that I know he's a poltergeist, there's no need for him to pretend to drive away after we talk.

Which made me wonder how I'd be summoned from now on. I had a feeling it wouldn't be via text message again. Or any other form of material technology.

"Wow!" I said, just needing a minute to let it all sink in. "Holy Jesus, Wow!" I said.

And then I saw the beam of a flashlight. "Hey, who's there?" Lights coming on everywhere. Voices on two way radios. "We have an intruder. Copy?"

"Damn, you Ranallo!" I'm thinking. "Now what do I do?" 

I felt something on my arms and shoulders. I suddenly realized I was wearing a Carolina Blue, Braves warm-up jacket. Where the heck did that come from, and how long had I been wearing it?

Three private badges walked right past me, looking at me, through me, as if I wasn't there. And then I realized. The jacket. My cloak of invisibility.

I guess old Phil didn't leave me exposed after all.

I walked quietly out the door and back to my car. As I drove away, I passed a couple of Buffalo black and whites, responding to the alarm at the arena no doubt.

"Happy hunting," I said as they sped by me. 

Note: This article is the fourth in a series.

After two straight years of reaching the Eastern Conference Finals, the Buffalo Sabres have since been on the outside looking in.

Buffalo cannot say they do not have the talent; they are led by Thomas Vanek who has the potential to score between 40-50 goals per season. They also have Tim Connolly who, when healthy, has the potential to be a point per game player. They are led by one of the best goaltenders in the NHL, Ryan Miller, who is on the list of potential players for the American Olympic squad.

The list of prospects with great potential is very strong, led by the little speedster in Nathan Gerbe, while the promising Chris Butler anchors the defensive prospects. Jhonas Enroth is the next in line in goal, who will most likely report back to Portland to begin the season to get consistent reps, and will get the first shot if Miller or Patrick Lalime go down with an injury.

The summer has been active, as the Sabres' organization signed Paul Byron (2007 sixth-round selection), and Tyler Myers (2008 first-round selection). They also signed their first two selections in the 2007 draft in TJ Brennan and Drew Schiestel to entry level deals. You should expect to see all four prospects in Portland this year, with Myers as the only player with an outside chance at starting the upcoming season with Buffalo.

Also, 2009 first round selection Zack Kassian has a shot once signed to make the Sabres from the beginning. Expect Mike Weber to make great strides this year and possibly spend the entire season in Buffalo as well.

In addition, the Sabres hung on to a very underrated and possibly underappreciated player in Matt Ellis, signing him to a one-year deal. So far, the Sabres have lost one free agent in Jaroslav Spacek, however signing two defensemen in Steve Montador and Joe Dipenta.

Montador, known locally for his time in Erie with the Erie Otters of the Ontario Hockey League, spent last season with Anaheim and Boston. He spent last year in the Swedish Elite League. Dipenta is expected to spend a majority of time in Portland, and Montador with the Sabres.

Two Sabres have been extended invitations to Olympic tryoutsDerek Roy (Canada) and Ryan Miller (USA). These invitations come with added expectations, as Miller and Roy will be expected to become big contributors for the Sabres.

The Buffalo Sabres will have the ability this year to positively reflect the blue-collar town of Buffalo. The Sabres will have to be able to grind out many games this season in the difficult Northeast Division. They have hard-working forwards Adam Mair and Patrick Kaleta, as well as hard hitting defenseman, Steve Montador.

Realistically, the Sabres should finish second or third in the division, however, never count out the chance for them to win the division.

Projected Standings for the Northeast Division:

1.       Boston Bruins

2.       Buffalo Sabres

3.       Toronto Maple Leafs

4.       Montreal Canadians

5.       Ottawa Senators

Ten days after the team inked Steve Montador, the Buffalo Sabres have agreed to terms with another new defenseman. This time, though they are bringing in Joe Dipenta, who spent last season with Frölunda HC of the Swedish Elite League.

Dipenta, who was drafted 61st overall by the Panthers in 1998, has played 174 games in his NHL career, just three games with Atlanta in 2002-03 and three seasons, including a Stanley Cup with Anaheim.

In addition, he has played 369 games in the AHL, which is where Sabres fans can expect him to spend most of his time. This is adding depth and providing veteran leadership and experience to a youthful Portland Pirates team.

Dipenta has previously signed contracts with Philadelphia (2000) and Vancouver (2004), but failed to play with either NHL club, spending time in the AHL instead.

Several news reports are indicating the deal is a one-year contract, though no financial details have been released.

Dipenta's official website can be reached here.

The Latest Information to Hit My Desk

 

The Buffalo Sabres had a difficult time in recent seasons luring big name free agents to come play for them. Because of that, they are now in hot pursuit of Plan-B.

Brendan Morrison, formerly of the Anaheim Ducks and Vancouver Canucks, is being courted by Sabres' management, as confirmed by two of our sources.

The Canadian born center came to fame playing between Markus Naslund and Todd Bertuzzi on Vancouver before the lockout. He is no longer as skilled as he once was but will provide what the Sabres need: experience up the middle.

We could be hearing of this signing as early as tomorrow morning.

Morrison to Sabres HRB Rating: 5

By Leopold

Hockey Rumor Buzz Correspondent

The Latest Information to Hit My Desk

 

The Buffalo Sabres had a difficult time in recent seasons luring big name free agents to come play for them. Because of that, they are now in hot pursuit of Plan-B.

Brendan Morrison, formerly of the Anaheim Ducks and Vancouver Canucks, is being courted by Sabres' management, as confirmed by two of our sources.

The Canadian born center came to fame playing between Markus Naslund and Todd Bertuzzi on Vancouver before the lockout. He is no longer as skilled as he once was but will provide what the Sabres need: experience up the middle.

We could be hearing of this signing as early as tomorrow morning.

Morrison to Sabres HRB Rating: 5

By Leopold

Hockey Rumor Buzz Correspondent

This time he wanted to meet at the Anchor Bar. I thought it was rather bold, considering his secretive, back alley, after dark, jump in, jump out of a smoke-glass stretch limo style at the previous two meetings...until I realized he meant three in the morning, not three in the afternoon.

In the far end of the parking lot, the black limo dissolved into moonless darkness. I had a feeling it wasn't just coincidence all the street lights within 50 yards were out.

I pulled up parallel to the limo, slid my window down and waited, as instructed. A moment later, the window next to me slid down.

"Hop in," he said.

I obeyed.

"You don't get it." He complained.

"What?"

"Why do you think I've been calling these meetings? I need you to take action. Start the ball dribbling, so to speak."

"What'm I supposed to do?" I asked. "I'm just a Bleacher Report contributor. A volunteer journalist. The largest audience I've had for an article is a couple of thousand, and that was my tongue-in-cheek prediction that the Bills would win the next Super Bowl."

"Why do you think I picked you?"

"That article?" I asked, incredulous.

"Duh!"

I just stared at him.

"You still don't get it, do you?"

"No."

"Listen, John. You may not have been consciously aware of what you were writing or of what you know at some deep level, but the Spirit of the Braves has already touched you. You don't know that of which you know."

"You're right. I don't know. So tell me. What am I supposed to know?"   

"Look. Some people have the ability to believe the impossible, the improbable. Some people not only think outside of the box, they don't even have a box to think in. Some people can even imagine the TO signing working out well for the Bills this year. (And by the way, how do you think the Bills and TO were able to do the deal?)"

"You mean?" I asked.

"Absolutely." He said. "The Aud had a gaping hole by the time TO was signed."

"My God!"

"So as I was saying. Not everyone has the faith. Not most people. Not even a lot of people, maybe. But some people. And more people in Buffalo than anywhere else, per capita. And more of the old Braves fans than anyone else."

"And?"

"And the truth is, the truth revealed by the newly liberated Spirit of the Braves (free at last to do its work after haunting the Aud for 30 years) is that Buffalo can win the Stanley Cup any year now.

"And the Bills, the Super Bowl. And the Braves the NBA title with their new number one, Blake Griffin."

"You're saying Blake Griffin could be the new Bob McAdoo?"

"Maybe, but that's beside the point. The point is that a Triple Championship for Buffalo in the same year can and will happen as soon as the Braves are restored to their proper home and the curse is finally cancelled."

"A very big IF, don't you think?"

"Absolutely not! And that's what I'm here to tell you today, John. You need to get it this time, cause we've got to stop meeting like this."

"Ok?"

"It's all metaphysics and simple math."

"I get the metaphysics piece. Exorcising the curse. Reuniting spirit and matter. But what about the math?"

"How many season tickets did the Bills sell this year?"

"55K, give or take," I said.

"Exactly. And you're the one who told me at our last meeting what the Clippers franchise is worth. Just shy of 300 million, right?

"And who in Buffalo has that kind of money? We're trying to hang on to the Bills and Sabres. How're we going to buy a third franchise?"

"Look, Howell," he said, sounding like Tony Soprano again. "I'm disappointed in you. Listen to me!" He was grabbing me by the shoulders, shaking me to a migraine.

"Listen to me! Bills, Braves, Sabres. The three are inextricable. Without the Braves, it's only a matter of time. First the Bills go to Toronto, and then the Sabres ship off to Phoenix, now that the Coyotes will be in Hamilton, which is one reason why the Sabres end up moving west."

"So," I said, almost afraid to commit. "It isn't just about winning the big one?"

"Yes, yes!" He shouted, obviously relieved to have finally gotten through. 

"It's about just having the teams here. The final culmination of the curse is that the other two teams are also lost."

"Thank you, God!" Throat said with a sigh. "So you see this isn't an elective course, Howell. This is mandatory for graduation. It's the fricking Holy Trinity. Three in One. Three or None. End of story."

"Ok, I get it, I get it. If we don't save the Braves, we lose them all. Now what?"

"Simple math. Like I said."

"Math?"

"One more time, John. How many season tickets?"

"55K."

"And what's the franchise worth?"

"300 Million?"

"Right. Now divide it."

"Divide 300 Mill by 55K?"

"Duh!"

I got out my smart phone, pushed the button for the calculator feature.

"For Chrissake, Howell," he said. "Round numbers."

"Oh." I blanked for a moment. Brain fart. I am over 50 after all.

"C'mon, John.  300 divided by 50."

"Six."

"Times a thousand?" 

"6K. So?"

"We've been over this before, remember? He sighed big, leaned back, turned and leaned into my intimate space. "So if the same number of people who bought a season ticket to the Ralph could come up with another six grand-- on average-- we'd have the whole enchilada."

"But can they?"

"To keep the Bills and the Sabres? And do a championship sweep? Considering it's an investment not a contribution? It's money for equity. Better than home ownership, these days."

"Yeah, but six G's times 50,000? Buffalo's not LA."

"Well, that's the point, isn't it?  Listen. Some people can give more. A lot more. What about Golisano? He says he's saving $15 mill a day in taxes by moving to Florida. He might be willing to give up a few days of tax money. And there's Kelly. And Thurman. And what about some of the old Braves? Randy's gone, may he rest in peace..."

At the mention of Randy Smith, Brave-Throat reflexively removed his hat, bowed his head (just for a split second, as if he'd forgotten where he was, who he was with) and quickly put it back.

Without the hat, he looked vaguely familiar, but it was just a fleeting glance. Too quick to register in my aging brain.

"You know," he said, stuttering slightly as if he was rattled by his slip. "You know, maybe Mac, Ernie, maybe even Snyder. Maybe the Knox's, now that they've divested the Sabres. All kinds of people might have their reasons to throw in a whole lot more than six G's."

"But what does that have to do with me?" I asked. I don't know any of those people."

"You're the town crier," he said. "You put it out on the web. Write some articles. Call some people. Send some emails. Get all of this to go viral. And then, let the Spirit do its work."

I had a feeling, despite his earlier reference to the Trinity, he wasn't talking about the Holy Spirit here.

"Ok," I said. "I am your servant. I have heard the call, and I answer."

"Let's go Buffalo!" He said, smiling wide with a mischievous glint, as he opened the door and nearly pushed me out.

The limo was screeching tires, speeding away before I was firmly on both feet.

 

(This column is the third in a series about clandestine meetings with the Mystery Man, Brave-Throat. Find links to parts one and two at the author's profile.)

This time he wanted to meet at the Anchor Bar. I thought it was rather bold, considering his secretive, back alley, after dark, jump in, jump out of a smoke-glass stretch limo style at the previous two meetings...until I realized he meant three in the morning, not three in the afternoon.

In the far end of the parking lot, the black limo dissolved into moonless darkness. I had a feeling it wasn't just coincidence all the street lights within 50 yards were out.

I pulled up parallel to the limo, slid my window down and waited, as instructed. A moment later, the window next to me slid down.

"Hop in," he said.

I obeyed.

"You don't get it." He complained.

"What?"

"Why do you think I've been calling these meetings? I need you to take action. Start the ball dribbling, so to speak."

"What'm I supposed to do?" I asked. "I'm just a Bleacher Report contributor. A volunteer journalist. The largest audience I've had for an article is a couple of thousand, and that was my tongue-in-cheek prediction that the Bills would win the next Super Bowl."

"Why do you think I picked you?"

"That article?" I asked, incredulous.

"Duh!"

I just stared at him.

"You still don't get it, do you?"

"No."

"Listen, John. You may not have been consciously aware of what you were writing or of what you know at some deep level, but the Spirit of the Braves has already touched you. You don't know that of which you know."

"You're right. I don't know. So tell me. What am I supposed to know?"   

"Look. Some people have the ability to believe the impossible, the improbable. Some people not only think outside of the box, they don't even have a box to think in. Some people can even imagine the TO signing working out well for the Bills this year. (And by the way, how do you think the Bills and TO were able to do the deal?)"

"You mean?" I asked.

"Absolutely." He said. "The Aud had a gaping hole by the time TO was signed."

"My God!"

"So as I was saying. Not everyone has the faith. Not most people. Not even a lot of people, maybe. But some people. And more people in Buffalo than anywhere else, per capita. And more of the old Braves fans than anyone else."

"And?"

"And the truth is, the truth revealed by the newly liberated Spirit of the Braves (free at last to do its work after haunting the Aud for 30 years) is that Buffalo can win the Stanley Cup any year now.

"And the Bills, the Super Bowl. And the Braves the NBA title with their new number one, Blake Griffin."

"You're saying Blake Griffin could be the new Bob McAdoo?"

"Maybe, but that's beside the point. The point is that a Triple Championship for Buffalo in the same year can and will happen as soon as the Braves are restored to their proper home and the curse is finally cancelled."

"A very big IF, don't you think?"

"Absolutely not! And that's what I'm here to tell you today, John. You need to get it this time, cause we've got to stop meeting like this."

"Ok?"

"It's all metaphysics and simple math."

"I get the metaphysics piece. Exorcising the curse. Reuniting spirit and matter. But what about the math?"

"How many season tickets did the Bills sell this year?"

"55K, give or take," I said.

"Exactly. And you're the one who told me at our last meeting what the Clippers franchise is worth. Just shy of 300 million, right?

"And who in Buffalo has that kind of money? We're trying to hang on to the Bills and Sabres. How're we going to buy a third franchise?"

"Look, Howell," he said, sounding like Tony Soprano again. "I'm disappointed in you. Listen to me!" He was grabbing me by the shoulders, shaking me to a migraine.

"Listen to me! Bills, Braves, Sabres. The three are inextricable. Without the Braves, it's only a matter of time. First the Bills go to Toronto, and then the Sabres ship off to Phoenix, now that the Coyotes will be in Hamilton, which is one reason why the Sabres end up moving west."

"So," I said, almost afraid to commit. "It isn't just about winning the big one?"

"Yes, yes!" He shouted, obviously relieved to have finally gotten through. 

"It's about just having the teams here. The final culmination of the curse is that the other two teams are also lost."

"Thank you, God!" Throat said with a sigh. "So you see this isn't an elective course, Howell. This is mandatory for graduation. It's the fricking Holy Trinity. Three in One. Three or None. End of story."

"Ok, I get it, I get it. If we don't save the Braves, we lose them all. Now what?"

"Simple math. Like I said."

"Math?"

"One more time, John. How many season tickets?"

"55K."

"And what's the franchise worth?"

"300 Million?"

"Right. Now divide it."

"Divide 300 Mill by 55K?"

"Duh!"

I got out my smart phone, pushed the button for the calculator feature.

"For Chrissake, Howell," he said. "Round numbers."

"Oh." I blanked for a moment. Brain fart. I am over 50 after all.

"C'mon, John.  300 divided by 50."

"Six."

"Times a thousand?" 

"6K. So?"

"We've been over this before, remember? He sighed big, leaned back, turned and leaned into my intimate space. "So if the same number of people who bought a season ticket to the Ralph could come up with another six grand-- on average-- we'd have the whole enchilada."

"But can they?"

"To keep the Bills and the Sabres? And do a championship sweep? Considering it's an investment not a contribution? It's money for equity. Better than home ownership, these days."

"Yeah, but six G's times 50,000? Buffalo's not LA."

"Well, that's the point, isn't it?  Listen. Some people can give more. A lot more. What about Golisano? He says he's saving $15 mill a day in taxes by moving to Florida. He might be willing to give up a few days of tax money. And there's Kelly. And Thurman. And what about some of the old Braves? Randy's gone, may he rest in peace..."

At the mention of Randy Smith, Brave-Throat reflexively removed his hat, bowed his head (just for a split second, as if he'd forgotten where he was, who he was with) and quickly put it back.

Without the hat, he looked vaguely familiar, but it was just a fleeting glance. Too quick to register in my aging brain.

"You know," he said, stuttering slightly as if he was rattled by his slip. "You know, maybe Mac, Ernie, maybe even Snyder. Maybe the Knox's, now that they've divested the Sabres. All kinds of people might have their reasons to throw in a whole lot more than six G's."

"But what does that have to do with me?" I asked. I don't know any of those people."

"You're the town crier," he said. "You put it out on the web. Write some articles. Call some people. Send some emails. Get all of this to go viral. And then, let the Spirit do its work."

I had a feeling, despite his earlier reference to the Trinity, he wasn't talking about the Holy Spirit here.

"Ok," I said. "I am your servant. I have heard the call, and I answer."

"Let's go Buffalo!" He said, smiling wide with a mischievous glint, as he opened the door and nearly pushed me out.

The limo was screeching tires, speeding away before I was firmly on both feet.

 

(This column is the third in a series about clandestine meetings with the Mystery Man, Brave-Throat. Find links to parts one and two at the author's profile.)

Note: for an extensive set of links to recent videos, articles, & audio clips about the Buffalo Braves, see Chris and Tim Wendel's blog, Buffalo Nation http://buffalonation.wordpress.com/