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‘Buffalo guy’ Felser won’t be forgotten

Buffalo has lost a civic treasure. When news arrived of the death of incomparable sports columnist Larry Felser, I felt a profound sense of loss which I know was shared by those he counted as friends and the thousands who knew him only by his byline in the News.

In my seasons as PR Director of the Bills (1973-86), I was in contact with Larry on an almost daily basis. He was without doubt the finest professional to cross my path in 40 years as a sports publicist.

While we often were on different sides of an issue, Larry always offered a balanced presentation. He had an encyclopedic knowledge of the Bills and professional football, was meticulous in collecting facts and assembled an imposing rolodex of sources that respected and admired his informed reporting and opinions.

Premier sports writers frequently define their communities and Larry did that for Buffalo. “Call Felser” was the recommendation if you had a question about the Bills or Western New York sports.

Most of all, Larry was great company, always ready with an amusing story, a nugget of Bills’ lore or a piece of inside information from one of his many confidants. The Bills players and coaches in my tenure paid close attention to what Larry wrote, and while they occasionally were at odds with his opinion, they never lost their affection and admiration for him.

Larry was a “Buffalo guy,” and his wisdom, his integrity and his good humor made him memorable in sports journalism ranks from New York to Newport Beach. Those of us lucky enough to be around him will never forget this exceptional journalist, husband, father and friend.

L. Budd Thalman

Fredericksburg, VA

Fairness of Felser will be missed

It is with great sadness that I write this letter regarding the passing of Larry Felser. He was by far one of the most fair and knowledgeable sports writers ever to fill the sports pages of this newspaper. Reading his take on the morning after a Bills game was always something I looked forward to.

Opinionated? Of course. But never to the point of being obnoxious.

Any of his columns should be required reading for aspiring sports columnists. Thanks, Mr. Felser, for being a gentleman and sharing your love of sports with us.

John Kwiatkowski

Cheektowaga

Fan encouraged by Bills’ draft picks

Kudos to the Buffalo Bills organization, including president Russ Brandon, general manager Buddy Nix, assistant general manager Doug Whaley and new head coach Doug Marrone for selecting daring and innovative draft picks during the NFL Draft.

The Bills responded to their fans’ pleas by selecting a quarterback in the first round. Florida State’s EJ Manuel should infuse the quarterback position with much needed mobility, arm strength and leadership skills. The Bills offense this season could resemble a track meet after the team selected wide receivers Robert Woods and Marquise Goodwin. Buffalo also shored up their leaky defense from the 2012 season by drafting players like Kiko Alonso. An exciting, competitive team is being assembled.

Anthony P. Levatino

Rochester

Bills failed to plug some holes in draft

Is anyone else as confounded by the Bills’ draft as I am?

Manuel and Woods will start from Day One. Kudos.

Our second round linebacker has personal problems. Our third round wide-receiver was a luxury pick. T.J. Graham anyone? Hopkins was another luxury pick, since Ryan Lindell can still kick.

Did the Bills forget we need a starting left guard, a starting left corner and a tight end if Scott Chandler is not healthy?

Dave Gusmann

Buffalo

Miller may not have much value for suitors

Ryan Miller had a goals against average of 2.81 – that ranked him at No. 51 for NHL goalies. His save percentage was .914, and that ranked him at No. 34. This is a sign that your team is in serious trouble, when he receives the team MVP award.

Any teams interested in trading for Miller will be checking his numbers, and his value will be dropping like a rock. It appears the Sabres will have to take whatever they can get, just to dump his salary.

Six or seven new bodies, acquired thru trades, or the draft, could make all the difference in this team.

Rich Pietrykowski

North Tonawanda

Sabres fans shouldn’t be asked to suffer

While we all are suffering as Sabres fans, Ryan Miller or Thomas Vanek will win a Stanley Cup before Darcy Regier gets this organization even into the playoffs on a consistent basis, let alone a Stanley Cup. He has had the keys to the vault under new owner Terry Pegula and we got worse.

Suffer? Get rid of this pretender and get someone who isn’t afraid of his shadow and doesn’t fall in love with the potential of marginal players. Montreal went from last to first by cleaning house, GM included.

Bill Krieger

Cheektowaga

Pegula has changed since purchasing Sabres

Ted Black’s recent excuse as to why Terry Pegula didn’t attend the end-of-year press conference had something to do with the assertion that owners don’t attend these things.

Really?

This owner was supposed to be different. Isn’t that what we’ve been hearing all along? He was the savior for our sports teams. He was the fan of all fans. He was what we all wished an owner of one of our teams would be, a lover of the sport, of our team and of the fans.

He may be two out of three but his actions recently do not at all indicate his devotion to the fans, the people who support his hockey team.

I remember the initial press conference he held that announced his purchase of the team. He was asked about the raising of ticket prices and his response, if I’m not mistaken, was something like “I don’t know, didn’t we just do that recently?” Check the tape. Now he’s made the decision to do it two years in a row.

Sure the waiting list for the season tickets is large but I have the feeling that when push comes to shove and these people have to shell out thousands of dollars to see an inferior product because they’ve been asked to replace those who’ve decided they’ve had enough, that list will shrink.

Let’s hope Mr. Pegula gets back to being what we all looked for in an owner, one who not only cares about his players but his customers.

Dale Slisz

Williamsville

Regier has earned contract extension

I received some very good news this week – Darcy Regier is going to be retained as GM of the Sabres. After reading the propaganda that comes from letters to this paper and columns by hockey “experts,” I wonder how Darcy can keep his composure because I can no longer do so.

I judge Darcy’s performance after his hands were untied by Terry Pegula. Prior to that he was limited by budget under Tom Golisano and had to endure Larry Quinn’s policies, which caused us to lose valuable assets that Darcy had obtained.

In 2011, Pegula wanted to build a Stanley Cup contender within three years. Darcy got to business right away in securing the top name free agents available at that time. He brought in a veteran D-man in Regehr, the top defenseman available in Ehrhoff, and when it was determined that Richards wanted to go to New York he secured the next best forward available in Leino.

In 2012 it was evident that the original plan wasn’t meeting expectations, and so Darcy then set out to build from youth. He then obtained a first round pick for Gaustad and traded Kassian and Gragnani for Sulzer and Hodgson. Who has a problem with that?

The Sabres needed help at center and so at the Entry Draft he not only secured one top center prospect, but two by wheeling and dealing his second pick, earning the ire of other GMs who were hoping to snare Girgensons.

The Sabres then needed toughness. Is there anyone in town who would rather have the Steve Ott-for-Derek Roy trade back?

His most recent trades of Leopold, Regehr and Pominville for picks and prospects have been excellent.

Why haven’t they won The Cup? A GM can only do so much. Once the talent is there, it’s up to the coach to bring the team together. A good example is the New York Rangers, who annually bring in the top players but haven’t won a Cup since 1994.

No GM is 100 percent right all the time, but Darcy Regier has certainly earned his extension.

Richard J. D’Angelo

Buffalo

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