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This Day in Buffalo Sports History: Handy Andy

      February 17, 1984 -- Dave Andreychuk was only in his first full year as a Sabre when he was proving he knew what to do with the puck, particularly when it came to overtime.

     Andreychuk scored his second overtime goal in 10 days as the Sabres defeated Minnesota, 5-4, on this date. (The other came in Pittsburgh, as the Sabres rallied from a 5-3 deficit.) The goal on this date came at 1:31 of overtime, with the assists going to Larry Playfair and Hannu Virta. It was Andreychuk's second goal of the night, matching the total of Real Cloutier.  Buffalo finished with a 40-19 edge in shots on goal.

     It was part of a fine season, as Andreychuk finished with 38 goals. The forward was in the midst of the first of two stays with the Sabres. He came back for a year as a free agent in 2000-01, and scored 20 goals.

     Andreychuk scored 640 goals in his long NHL career, one of the top totals in history. That should get him into the Hockey Hall of Fame some day. He also won a Stanley Cup as captain of the Tampa Bay Lightning.

--- Budd Bailey

This Day in Buffalo Sports History: Drew's days are done

     February 16, 2005 -- When the Buffalo Bills gave up a first-round draft choice to the New England Patriots for quarterback Drew Bledsoe, they were hoping the two sides would live happily ever after. It didn't quite work out that way.

     Bledsoe started strongly but his performance went downhill quickly. He was released by the team on this date.

     The move had been expected for a while, as the Bills were ready to move J.P. Losman into the starter's role. Still, it was the end of a disappointing tenure here.

     Bledsoe finished with a 23-25 record as the Bills' starter. Buffalo went 9-7 in his first year in Buffalo in 2004, but that wasn't good enough to get the team into the playoffs. From there, his performance seemed to slip.

     Bledsoe decided he wasn't through, and signed to play with the Dallas Cowboys. He held the starting job for a bit more than a year, but then found himself on the bench and retired after the 2006 season.

--- Budd Bailey

This Day in Buffalo Sports History: Pound for pound, the best

     February 15, 1949 - The phrase has become a cliche over the years - the best pound-for-pound boxer in the history of the sport. It was applied to Sugar Ray Robinson, and it remains in force to this day - more than a half-century after his prime.

     Most people in Western New York don't remember that Ray Robinson fought in Buffalo's Memorial Auditorium - twice. Not only that, but he didn't win here in this particular bout. And that was quite unusual.

     Robinson came to town as the welterweight champion of the world, sporting a 90-1-1 record in his career. Think about that - 90-1-1. His opponent in the nontitle bout was Henry Brimm, his opponent for a March 16, 1948 fight in the Aud. Robinson won a unanimous decision in that bout, but this time the two men fought to a draw over 10 rounds.

     Sugar Ray might have been a little tired. He fought Young Gene Buffalo -- honest! - in Wilkes Barre, Penn., only five days before his Buffalo bout. Robinson won that fight with a first-round knockout.

     Sugar Ray won every fight after that until 1951, when Randy Turpin beat him in London. Sugar Ray finished with a 173-19-6 record when he finally retired in 1965.

---Budd Bailey

Post Time: Beware of the “Other” Pletcher Horse

By Gene Kershner

 The Post Time Derby Dozen batted .667 for the weekend after three interesting Derby prep races concluded, two resulting in upsets.

We’ll take credit for the flop of unranked Comma to the Top in the El Camino Real Derby, who faltered in the stretch, finishing a disappointing fourth. Post Time No. 6 ranked Brethren romped by four lengths in the Sam F. Davis at Tampa Bay Downs for trainer Todd Pletcher. Finally, No. 5 ranked Tapizar flamed out in the Robert B. Lewis Stakes at Santa Anita Park, finishing off the board as the prohibitive 3-10 favorite.

 Both heavily favored Comma to the Top and Tapizar are trained by Steve Asmussen, perennially one of the leading trainers in the nation. Asmussen could take solace in the fact that Comma’s stable mate Silver Medallion ($15) won the El Camino, in his first ever visit to Golden Gate Fields, picking up $120,000 of valuable graded stakes earnings and earning the highest speed figure of the day of any 3-year old (93).

 Tapizar was rank throughout the opening quarter mile and jockey Garret Gomez could do little to hold him back in the early going. After setting blazing fractions of 22.48 and 45.64 through the opening half mile, he had little left in the tank after hitting the three quarters mark. Anthony’s Cross ($18.60) dueled and overcame Riveting Reason in the stretch to win, picking up $150,000 for the win. With Tapizar taking 85 percent of show pool betting, the show payouts were tremendous paying $15.60, $15.20 and a whopping $48.60 to third place finisher Quail Hill.

 The best showing of any horse in the Post Time Derby Dozen was even money favorite Brethren ($3.80), with an impressive win at Tampa Bay from an outside post going 1 1/16 miles. It was Pletcher’s fourth Davis victory in the last six years, quite a record from the Eclipse winning trainer. While the victory was visually impressive, the folks at Beyer Central didn’t quite think so, issuing an 83 Beyer for his efforts. Looks like Eclipse winning jockey Ramon Dominguez has his Derby horse. Pletcher, of course, also trains the reigning 2-year old champ Uncle Mo, so he once again will be firing bullets on Derby Day. Post Time says to beware of the “other” Pletcher horse in Brethren. Remember he’s a half-brother to last year’s Derby winner, Super Saver.

Other Derby Notes

• 2-year old champion Uncle Mo registered his second workout of the season, going a brisk 47.45 for four furlongs at Palm Meadows on Sunday. Pletcher will be taking the road least traveled by only running two prep races before the First Saturday in May, the first being the Tampa Bay Derby in March.

• Anthony’s Cross, by way of his win in the Lewis, becomes eligible for $5.5 million, should he complete a sweep of the Santa Anita Derby and the Preakness Stakes. He earned a Beyer speed figure of 90 on Saturday. On the East Coast Dialed In, winner of the Holy Bull, is eligible for the same bonus, should he win the Florida Derby and the Preakness.

• Next weekend’s Risen Star Stakes at the Fair Grounds could pit three Post Time Derby Dozen horses against each other in Machen (No. 8), Santiva (No. 9) and Rogue Romance (No. 12) in their search for graded earnings.

 • Next weekend’s other race that features two top horses is the San Vicente, a 7 furlong affair that will feature The Factor (No. 4) and the unheralded Premier Pegasus.

 • Oaklawn’s first graded stake for 3-year-olds, the Southwest Stakes, will be run next Monday on President’s Day. It will feature JP’s Gusto, who will try and rebound from a dull effort in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile.

This Day in Buffalo Sports History: One too many

   February 14, 1995 -- The Buffalo Sabres had two Hall of Fame goaltenders on their roster in the 1995 season, which had been cut about in half because of labor problems. The issue in net was that the Sabres could only play one of those goalies at a time. So, one had to go.

   Buffalo opted to keep Dominik Hasek -- no arguing that decision -- and traded Grant Fuhr to the Los Angeles Kings in a seven-player deal.

   It was quite a transaction. The Sabres sent Fuhr and young defensemen Philippe Boucher and Denis Tsygurov to Los Angeles for defensemen Alexei Zhitnik and Charlie Huddy, and goalie Robb Stauber.

   Fuhr was earning $1.6 million and had lost his starting job to Hasek. Still, it couldn't have been fun for Sabres general manager and coach John Muckler to trade Fuhr, who had helped him win Stanley Cups in Edmonton.

   Muckler got one of his pals from Edmonton back in the deal in Huddy, a veteran defenseman. The key to the deal was Zhitnik, who was a very talented and young defenseman.

    Fuhr didn't help the Kings much, but Zhitnik played a lot of good hockey for Buffalo. Advantage, Sabres.

--- Budd Bailey

This Day in Buffalo Sports History: See ya, Seymour

   February 13, 1977 -- It might have been the oddest game in the history of the Buffalo Sabres.

   With regular goalie Gerry Desjardins injured, Sabres general manager Punch Imlach ordered coach Floyd Smith to start rookie netminder Don Edwards that night against Minnesota. The team's other goalie, Al Smith, didn't like that idea. In the pregame warm-up, Smith waved to team owner Seymour Knox, said "See ya, Seymour," and left the Aud ice ... never to return.

   "Pride and dignity cost a lot these days. I know I'm a raving fool for what I did, but when the game doesn't make sense to you, get out," Smith said later.

   The Sabres tried to sign public relations director and occasional beer league goalie Paul Wieland to an amateur tryout contract to be the backup, but his name was submitted to the lineup too late to be included. So, Edwards had to go it alone.

   The rookie beat the North Stars, 6-2. It was also center Derek Smith's first NHL game. Both Edwards and Derek Smith had other chances to play in the NHL; Wieland never did.

   Al Smith never played another game in the NHL, as Bob Sauve was recalled from the minors to take his roster spot. Smith did play in the World Hockey Association after that.

--- Budd Bailey

This Day in Buffalo Sports History: Ironman no longer

    February 12, 1983 -- Buffalo Sabres' fans had gotten used to seeing Craig Ramsay in the lineup -- day in, day out.

   Ramsay was called up from Cincinnati during the 1971-72 season, and quickly found a home on the team's checking line. He stayed there almost indefinitely, quickly building a reputation as one of the best two-way players in hockey.

   Ramsay played in 776 games -- at the time the fourth-longest streak in NHL history -- before he had to miss a game on this date. A broken foot took him out of the lineup for a game in Calgary.

   He missed the rest of the season, but came back for two more years -- and won the Selke Trophy as the league's best defensive forward in 1984-85.

   Ramsay later moved into coaching, and was an assistant coach when Tampa Bay won the Stanley Cup. Sabre fans probably felt good that one of the class acts in team history earned a ring. He was hired as the coach of the Atlanta Thrashers in the summer of 2010 under old teammate Rick Dudley.

 --- Budd Bailey

Running Notebook: Enough already

I have visions of runners looking at the weather forecast for the next several days, seeing temperatures above freezing, and rejoycing. Some of the roads and sidewalks around the area have been pretty bumpy for a while, and it would be nice to see some pavement again.

The thaw won't be of much help Saturday morning, arriving a bit too late. On the other hand, the conditions should be perfect for the run up the HSBC Center steps.

Here's a list of the more convention races, courtesy of

* Beast of Burden 100 Mile Ultra and 24-Hour Marathon, Goehle Marina on Market St. in Lockport, 7 a.m. Saturday, 609-9000. Good luck to all of those runners; their endurance is very impressive.

* Lockport Y-10, 19 East Ave. in Lockport, 10 a.m. Saturday, 434-8887. A lot of runners love this race and the challenge it offers. I don't like scheduling Runner of the Year races in potentially bad weather, which this one sometimes faces, but it's a good race for those who like a challenge.

* Dash for the Dome 5K, 2655 South Park Ave. in Buffalo, 10 a.m. Saturday, 827-1584 x204. The best part of this race might be the party, held inside the Botanical Gardens. It's 72 degrees inside there.

--- Budd Bailey

This Day in Buffalo Sports History: Three and out

     February 11, 2000 -- Talk about the end of an era. This particular day certainly was when it came to the Buffalo Bills.

     The team was facing salary cap problems, and needed to clean out some space for future acquisitions. Therefore, it decided to release three of its all-time greats. Thurman Thomas, Bruce Smith and Andre Reed were all released.

     They had been the last three links to the team's run of four consecutive Super Bowls, and they were three of the greatest players in team history.

     Thomas landed in Miami while Smith and Reed went to Washington; Smith became the league's all-time sack leader. After retirement, Thomas and Smith went almost directly into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, while Reed has been a finalist for that same honor.

     "You'll never see players like Bruce, Thurman and me again." Reed shouted after a home game in his final season in Buffalo. "Never!"

     Andre was certainly right about that.

--- Budd Bailey

Feel like you're there

There are a lot of promotional e-mails that drift through our in boxes and most end up in the delete folder.

Here is one forwarded by a family member from a ski resort in Switzerland that should be of special interest to snowboarders. If you don't like the view, drag your mouse over the screen to get another one.

It sure beats also those movies posted on YouTube.

Fletcher Doyle

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About Sports, Ink

Budd Bailey

Budd Bailey

Budd Bailey has served in a variety of roles in Buffalo sports in the past 35 years, including reporter, talk-show host, baseball announcer, public relations staffer and author. He covers the Bandits and running for The News when not working as an editor.