|Thomas J. Mazur - District 8
July 7, 2006
SABRES' SENSE OF WORKING TOGETHER, FOCUSING ON GOALS CAN BE WISELY ADOPTED BY GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS
This spring the Buffalo Sabres reacquainted us with the taste of victory. A few weeks ago, the NHL named Lindy Ruff coach of the year – a fitting move that commemorates the nine years Ruff has spent here, a tenure that is lengthier than that of any other current NHL head coach. Ruff, the winningest coach in Sabres history, has an intuitive sense of leadership: he understands how to work collegially with players and other coaches; he demands fully of his team without burning, or singling, anyone out.
I have always been impressed that Buffalo, a city we are told is shrinking in population by the bucketful, a city that is comprised of many and various neighborhoods, can support two major league teams. We can support the Buffalo Sabres and the Buffalo Bills because we are united by them. And just as each Buffalo Sabre has Coach Ruff in common, so to does each Western New Yorker have the Buffalo Sabres in common.
As I write this, I am peering out at several abandoned buildings along Walden Avenue, worrying that we are repeating history. Ours is a history that has been limited often – and drastically – by racist, small-minded decision making. We are limited by a metro rail that fails to connect a major research university with the population it should serve. We have driven away grocery stores and closed schools from those areas most in need because we refuse to use them anymore.
This is no indictment because we are all complicit, but I truly believe that if Buffalo is to regain its stature as a major league city (and its sports teams suggest that it can), we must be united by what we share – our optimism in the face of stormy weather, our reliance on each other, our humor and our candor.
On the Sabres' successes this season, Lindy Ruff commented that while "we [once] had a reputation of being a goaltender team stuck on defensive hockey [...] all areas of our game were pretty good this year." Surely, a modest assessment of a season that we all watched with relish. But his point is well taken. Western New York cannot transition to the 21st century if we follow the same trajectory we traveled in the 20th Century. We must work together to get there.
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