Despite our snark, let’s take a look back at Larry Quinn’s tenure with the Buffalo Sabres.
Without Larry Quinn, there wouldn’t be an HSBC Arena or a viable NHL team in Buffalo right now.
He was instrumental in signing Darcy Regier and Lindy Ruff and helped usher in the Rigas Family Era (which was actually OK for a little while). He brought back the blue and gold — albeit in a way that was kind of sly and produced a lot of extra revenue for the organization. A lot of us bought “slug” merchandise because the colors were right and a lot of us are still buying Sabres paraphernalia because now the logo is right.
Like it or not, he is responsible for the last 15 years of Sabres hockey. And in the end that’s a good thing.
He understood the business side of things pretty well and the challenges the Sabres faced as a small market team. We attended a lecture Quinn gave at Canisius College in the fall of 2007 and we came away with a new understanding of how he wanted to run the team. The bottom line was extremely important. In terms of their management style, whether or not we agreed with it, listening to Quinn talk quite candidly helped us to follow their line of reasoning.
And Quinn had to understand those dynamics. If there’s one thing that stood out from Kevin Sylvester’s interview with Tom Golisano last night it’s the fact that Golisano talked to Quinn more than once a day about the team. Rephrase that and you get this: Larry Quinn owned the Buffalo Sabres during the Golisano era. He was in charge. DiPofi was there too, but it was Quinn who got Golly involved and his influence only grew from there.
There were times when it seemed like he had to be the smartest man in the room. That tended to rub a lot of people around here the wrong way. But he’s been a big part of this community, not just in the hockey world and his walking away from a lot of civic projects will be a loss.
General perception seems to be that Quinn is an otherworldy figure that is to blame for all of these things that are probably not his fault.
We linked to a story yesterday about Quinn deciding to leave the area and the group responsible for development on the waterfront. That’s huge. Quinn has a lot of influence and has a lot of connections. He’s been involved in urban development since at least the early ’80s. He knows how things work and, ultimately, it’s that intimacy with the process that drove him away.
Quinn blamed the system, a screwed-up, tossy-turvy system we’ve come all too familiar with in these parts. He fell short on quite a few of his goals, but he was a guy who tried to do right by this city and its people.
Quinn has said that he’s become more concerned with his health after undergoing heart surgery in October. It makes sense for him to take his hand out of a few cookie jars and slow down. He said he’s going to take a backseat and watch from the outside, hoping the media will pressure local politicians and he put his faith in Western New York’s future to turn things around.
Terry Pegula is going to try with the Sabres. He’s going to be hands on for better or worse. Question is, who does the same for the Harbor and the rest of the city? If we don’t have an answer, there is no “better.”