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This Day in Buffalo Sports History: Not as planned

     December 20, 1999 -- This has to rank as one of the oddest departures from the Buffalo sports scene in the area's history.

     The Buffalo Blizzard parted ways with Rudy Pikuzinski, perhaps the most well-known player in team history. He was the Blizzard's all-time leading scorer, and scored the team's first-ever goal.

     Coach George Fernandez cut him without warning shortly after the start of the season.

     "Philosophically speaking, we had differences, and I have to do what is best for the team," Fernandez said in a prepared statement. "My goal from here on out is to take this team in another direction. This is just one step in that direction."

     Just to add some drama, it was later revealed that Fernandez had told the 40-year-old Pikuzinski, "I think you're the cancer of this team."

     That was Pikuzinski's final act as a player; he later was picked for the Greater Buffalo Sports Hall of Fame.

--- Budd Bailey

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