My employment with The Buffalo News began the day after Home Run Throwback in January 2000. I arrived from Las Vegas to find a city devastated by a trick play and still smarting from No Goal six months earlier.
Let's just say the mood wasn't peppy.
In that time I've watched the Sabres endure the Darius Kasparaitis dagger, miss the playoffs a franchise-record three straight seasons, survive a bankruptcy, rebound to reach the Eastern Conference finals two years in a row and win a Presidents' Trophy.
Somewhere along the way -- I sense it smoldered during the 2006 playoffs and became a wildfire when they won their first 10 games last season and lost only once in regulation through 17 games -- the Sabres surpassed the Bills as Buffalo's team of choice.
I watched Buffalo become an NHL city, and today The Sporting News went so far as to call Buffalo the best NHL city of them all.
Writer Ray Slover mostly cited our region's gaudy TV ratings and mentioned the HSBC Arena sellout streak in making his selection, but I can say it goes beyond that. In traveling around the league, I'm always impressed by how well Sabres fans will hit the road to see their team. NHL reporters constantly come up to me in their home press boxes and marvel at how many Sabres fans are in the building.
To further illustrate how much more attention the Sabres receive than the Bills do lately, blog statistics show three times as many unique page views for the Sabres Edge over the BillBoard in the past seven days. In that time, the Sabres re-signed two players as formalities, while the Bills opened training camp, signed their first-round draft pick to avoid a potentially lengthy holdout and traded away a disgruntled player.
Sabres fans, you are incredible.
For the record, The Sporting News also named Green Bay the best football town, Los Angeles the top baseball city, San Antonio the No. 1 hoops city, Daytona, Fla., the best NASCAR town and Gainesville, Fla., the best college town