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Sabres, Balsillie and The News

People on this blog, in e-mails, on other message boards, on talk radio and in the offices of HSBC Arena have asked: A) why didn't we have much on Tuesday's Toronto report saying Tom Golisano talked to Jim Balsillie in December about selling the Sabres; and/or B) whether The News and its writers have an "agenda" against the team.

The answers are easy. Let's start with A. While the sale talks from December might be considered news, it's hardly breaking news. Here is an excerpt from Bucky Gleason's column that ran Feb. 10:

"Over the past several weeks, there have been rumblings about the Sabres going up for sale. It sounds like Flip This Franchise. Make cosmetic changes, such as the uniforms, give fans a little ride and watch its value soar. Meanwhile, they've stripped the insulation, in this case the scouting department and farm system.

"Talk about nice flips, Minnesota sold for $260 million nine years after it was founded for $80 million. Edmonton is going for $200 million, while 10 years ago a group of investors pooled together $85 million for the club. Investors have a $206 million package for Tampa Bay, which Bill Davidson bought for $115 million in 1999.

"Golisano bought the Sabres for about $60 million, although some argue it was $92 million. Regardless, Forbes had the Sabres' value pegged at $162 million, which would amount to a pretty good score.

"Blackberry founder Jim Balsillie, who could line up $100 bills from here to his native Hamilton, wants an NHL team. I could see him being interested in the Sabres. Great hockey town, solid future, close to home."

There was a reason Balsillie's name was there. Believe it or not, we actually talk to people and research our stories. We don't just make stuff up.

And therein lies the rub. People don't believe we research our stories, or they do believe we make stuff up. A poll a few years ago revealed that only 25 percent of people think the honesty and ethical standards of journalists are "high" or "very high." It's a tough bias to overcome, even though a study showed journalism is one of the country's most morally developed professions.

Our job on the Sabres beat, in general terms, is to deliver to the readers what is going on at the foot of Washington Street. That's our only agenda. We don't control whether the news is "good" or "bad" in the eyes of fans. As Bucky has said, it's funny that we only get an agenda when the team goes from first overall to missing the playoffs. No one claimed we had an agenda when the team was making the right roster moves and going to consecutive conference finals.

As an aside, I've been dreading writing this for two days now. I don't believe in the mantra of he who yells loudest and longest gets their point across best. I have little desire to toot our paper's horn, so to speak, because I think (or used to think) people notice quality work without getting beat over the head with it. I don't spend much time discovering what people think of our last story, because after it's written, it's time to think about the next story. But the misinformation and outright bashing have been so pervasive during the last few days that even I noticed it.

---John Vogl


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John Vogl

John Vogl

John Vogl has been covering the Sabres since 2002-03, an era that has included playoff runs, last-place finishes and three ownership changes. The award-winning writer is the Buffalo chapter chairman for the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association.

@BuffNewsVogl |

About Sabres Edge

Mike Harrington

Mike Harrington

Mike Harrington, a Canisius College graduate who began his career as a News reporter in 1987, has been covering the Buffalo Sabres since 2007. He is a member of the Professional Hockey Writers' Association and can vouch that exposed flesh freezes instantly when walking in downtown Winnipeg in January.

@BNHarrington |

Amy Moritz

Amy Moritz

Amy Moritz, a native of Lockport, has a bachelor’s degree in journalism/mass communication from St. Bonaventure University and a master’s degree in humanities from the University at Buffalo. An endurance athlete, she has completed several triathlons, half marathons and marathons.

@amymoritz |