Maine Hockey Journal

Editorial: Amerks fan base has more to worry about than the Portland Pirates

Since it was rumored that the Buffalo Sabres were heading to Portland, it’s been nothing but a diatribe of comments and statements on websites, message boards and other forms of media that would make one want to curl up in the fetal position.

I mean based on the statements that I’ve heard, which include, but not limited too.

“Poor Portland, they’ll regret for joining with the Sabres.”

“They’re in for it; it’s going to be another dual affiliation.”

“Good luck Portland, Cheap-O Larry (Quinn) won’t squeeze two cents to sign a vet.”

It’s nice that they care so much for the Pirates wellbeing, but what’s the point of Portland even playing the season? The Pirates should just announce now they are going to default to seventh place and take their spot among the Atlantic Division cellar dwellers. Like I said, there are many more comments that didn’t make the list, but I think you’re getting the point and my head is starting to spin.

The Buffalo Sabres announced back in November that they were leaving Rochester, ending a 29-year affiliation with the Americans – the longest affiliation agreement of the time.

For much of the season, the Amerks were mired in a history-breaking season, but for all the wrong reasons. They’d finish with the worse record in the AHL, winning only 24 games, which included a winless streak in December that lasted 10 games.

Overall, it was just a bad season all the way around, the fan base needed somebody to blame, and ultimately they decided it was the Buffalo Sabres, who should fall on the sword.

In actuality, Rochester should take a hard look in the mirror at themselves and realize what the real problem was and at their future because I’m empathetic for them. In the past simply put, it was Steve Donner who was a big part of the problem with the Amerks, not having the funds to operate the business, poor financial planning, lawsuits against him, but yet he’s still part of the minority ownership group.

Curt Styres, new owner of the Americans, is not exactly a choirboy, either. According to the Oct 2, 2006, issue of the Hamilton Spectator, it was reported that Styres’ firm Grand River Enterprises was linked to illegal computer gambling – do a Google search about Styres, Jerry Montour (Styres business associate) and Ken Hill – and most of the money earned wasn’t really on the up and up. They aren’t exactly the type of guys, who I want owning my franchise.

The city of Rochester has also made several comments that they weren’t going to deal with the Amerks as long as Donner was in a position of power and while he isn’t the majority owner, he’s still there and I have yet to hear one thing good, bad or indifferent about the lease. I know the questions are being asked, but yet no answers.

I challenge one person to find something recent about the status of the lease for the Blue Cross Arena.

I also challenge anybody to find something about the affiliation agreement with the Florida Panthers, or that they intend to sign veterans for the Amerks.

According to Panthers GM Jacques Martin, he doesn’t expect to be involved in the free agent market for the big club, so hardly believe he’ll be doing a whole lot with the minor ranks.

“I don’t know how much we’ll be involved in free agency this year,” he said. “It depends on how we fill our needs by other means. I feel really good about our goaltending situation, and we’ll probably fulfill our needs at forward with the kids we have coming up.”

Rochester is a franchise that I have a lot of respect for, being in the league since 1956 with the likes of Don Cherry, Al Arbour, Gordie Clark and Jody Gage playing in the Red, White and Blue.

It’s truly special thing Rochester has, much like Portland with their hockey heritage and would be shame to see them in a long-term free fall, but I think the Rochester fan base has more to worry about then how the Portland Pirates are going to do this upcoming season.

The Sabres have signed several quality youngsters and they’ve said they’ll sign veterans. With my history and knowledge about the Pirates ownership that’s good enough for the fans and myself, for now.

You must be logged in to post a comment Login

Leave a Reply