Ask anybody in Buffalo about the Aud, and they're going to tell you stories.
About the time they saw a spectacular Sabres goal. Or brushed against Michael Jordan in a dank hallway deep in the bowels of the building. Or heard Elvis perform live.
No doubt about it: the Aud equals stories, and we've all got them.
That's why it's a part of our collective past as a city … as sports historian Rob Ruck points out in the column I wrote for today's City and Region section … and why we should think about saving certain historic parts of it.
In my column, I argue that we should save center ice. Let's do what Monteal did: keep that small plot of land preserved, with maybe a few original seats around it, so that people in the future can visit the spot where the puck dropped.
Do you agree? Why or why not?
Post your thoughts below. And while you're at it, tell us about the wonderful … or wonderfully awful … moments you witnessed within the walls (and in those smoke-filled walkways) of the Aud.
I'll get the conversation on that latter question started.
My Aud list pales in comparison to that of my hockey fan husband, News reporter T.J. Pignataro. I asked him for his favorite moments at the Aud, and … after deliberating for a very long time … he submitted the following as his Top Five. (The commencement ceremony for Canisius College in 1994, during which he sat beneath the scoreboard, narrowly missed the cut.)
Everybody's Aud memories are highly personal.
So your mileage, as they say, may vary.
1.) Dec. 22, 1977: Just after he turned 6, and after years of begging, he saw his first NHL game. It was Buffalo vs. Pittsburgh and ended in a 3-3 tie. But, he got to sit right behind the Penguins' bench, and Peter Mahovlich gave him a stick. Chalk that up as a win. (And he still has the stick).
2.) April 27, 1994: In college, he sneaked into the Aud with a buddy just before the start of the Sabres' first overtime in Game 6 versus the New Jersey Devils. The scoreless game went 4 OTs in all … and ended around 2 a.m. with Dave Hannan scoring on Martin Brodeur. A second-year goalie named Dominik Hasek made 70 saves … a record … and got the shutout in a 1-0 win.
3.) April 10, 1993: Saw Buffalo win a championship, of the Major Indoor Lacrosse League, at a Bandits game against the Philadelphia Wings. It was an end to their 10-0 season; what a perfect season it was. Had season tickets that year, in the reds.
4.) March 9, 1986: Sabres beat the Devils, 4-3. He attended with a junior high school pal, and saw Gilbert Perreault score his 500th goal. The Sabres' bench emptied out onto the ice to congratulate Perreault...
5.) April 14, 1996: A bittersweet, memorable night. The last game at the Aud. Buffalo beat the Whalers, 4-1. Pat LaFontaine put the puck into an empty net at the end … and the lights went out.
That's what the Aud was about, right? Good friends, memorable moments.
-- Charity Vogel