Tonawanda News

November 14, 2013

KEPPELER: Let's enjoy the moment, shall we?

The Tonawanda News

Tonawanda News — When I saw the “major announcement” notice on the Sabres’ Facebook account, I thought, “Huh.”

It’s probably nothing, I told myself. It’s a new jersey announcement or something. 

But when I saw more and more media organizations picking up on it, I thought “Maybe ...”

When the first leaked reports of what might happen appeared, I ignored the fact that I was supposed to be on my way out to an interview and turned on the newsroom television, just in time to confirm that the Buffalo Sabres had fired General Manager Darcy Regier and head coach Ron Rolston ... and hired former Sabre Pat LaFontaine as president of hockey operations and former head coach Ted Nolan as interim head coach.

(I admit it. I am completing incapable of saying LaFontaine’s name, even mentally, without making it LalalalalalaFontaine. I bet you are too.)

Now, I love LaFontaine. I have no idea how he’ll do in this particular role. No idea at all. But the man is a class act with more than his share of personality and charisma. He knows his hockey and gives a sh#@ about Buffalo. So I’m inclined to give him the benefit of the doubt until proven otherwise. And whatever you think of Nolan, he brings a lot more experience to the rink. And some charisma of his own. “He won’t accept this bland, robotic losing with no personality,” one friend said.

But it didn’t take long for the snarking to start. Of course. 

It’s a PR move, they said. It’s a gimmick. They were only chosen because of their Sabres background. It’s the 1990s all over again.

Look, I get it. Everything old is new again. Ha. Ha. Ha.

And frankly, snark and pessimism aren’t precisely new ways for Buffalo sports fans to deal with their issues. And we have issues. Come on. You can’t argue that we don’t. Lots and lots of issues.

But Sabres fans have been clamoring for Regier and, to a much lesser extent, Rolston, to be axed for a very long time now, and that happened Wednesday. That happened. I hate to use the phrase “addition by subtraction,” but we all know it’s probably at least somewhat true in this case.

I don’t expect miracles. Would I like to see some? Of course, but I’ll be content with progress. And “Back to the Future” jokes aside, I now have hope we might see some of that soon. There will be a lot more losing games. I don’t doubt it. But there is some excitement, as well.

Maybe it is a PR move, a gimmick. There is not, necessarily, anything wrong with a PR move. As long as that’s only the start.

I look forward to seeing who the new Sabres GM will be. I look forward to seeing if Nolan sticks around. For however long it lasts, I’m eager to watch the Sabres play again. 

And you know what? 

For now, I’m more than content with that.

For now.


One of our local TV stations has been hyping up its recent restaurant health-inspection reports, and given that it’s produced a searchable database for all of WNY, that’s really sort of cool.

But just a reminder — the Tonawanda News (and its sister papers, the Niagara Gazette and Lockport Union-Sun & Journal) publish restaurant health inspection reports for locations in Niagara County and our little corner of Erie County every Sunday on page 5C.

I’ve read my share of them. I’ll admit that I’ve declined to eat at a few places that consistently show up with “critical violations.” Given that non-critical violations can include things like not having all utensil handles facing in the same directions, I’m not nearly so judgmental on those.

The inspections rotate through the area. For example, I can tell you that this Sunday’s list includes sites in Niagara Falls and Wheatfield), but given that Tonawandans don’t exclusively eat out in the Tonawandas, that’s not a bad thing.

Just a little food for thought.

Jill Keppeler is a writer for the Tonawanda News. She can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @JillKeppeler.