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Insiders Corner

Insiders Corner

Quinn And Pigeon, Two Sides Of The Same Coin
By The Insider
Apr 20, 2009, 10:04
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Usually the Insider Corner deals strictly with the world of politics, but today we will venture slightly into the world of professional hockey.

Rene Robert, formerly of the Buffalo Sabres and French Connection fame, ripped Sabres managing partner Larry Quinn in Sundayís News. Robertís comments have the local media buzzing, but it reflects something that has been brewing in the organization for some time.

The issue between Quinn and Robert has less to do with the Sabres not making the playoffs and more to do with marketing the French Connection. Robert has been upset with Quinn and the Sabres for years because he feels he has not gotten proper compensation for the teamís use of the French Connection moniker, on which he played a minor role.

Robert played traffic cop while Gilbert Perreault and Rick Martin scored goals and dazzled the crowd. Robert was the first to exit when the line was broken up and has carried a grudge for the organization ever since. However, his critical comments in Quinnís direction must have been applauded by Steve Pigeon.

Yes, Steve Pigeon, who is Tom Golisanoís chief political operative, is not on Larry Quinnís Christmas card list. If Quinn is Golisanoís right hand hockey man, Pigeon is his left hand political man and the two despise each other.

Some say itís because Pigeon brought Quinn into the Golisano camp to purchase the Buffalo Sabres and Quinn has never shown the proper gratitude. Others say itís because Quinnís political leanings do not match up with Pigeonís. While others say itís just a matter of the two vying for Golisanoís approval and there is not enough room at the table.

Larry Quinn is the ultimate Buffalo survivor and has had more public lives than a cat. Quinn was a boy wonder in Jimmy Griffinís administration in the 80ís, brought on board by the late Seymour Knox the third in the 90ís to build a new hockey arena. Quinn then worked behind the scenes to unseat team president Doug Moss, only to be fired by John Rigas when he took over the team.

Quinn was out of the public eye until Tom Golisano made his run for the Sabres and yes, Steve Pigeon was the one to bring the two together. Quinn has flourished under Golisanoís ownership, and has been rewarded for the teamís quick rise from the ashes of the Rigas debacle. Now Quinn also must wear the teamís struggles and finds himself the target of the fans displeasure.

Steve Pigeon, who has never been quiet about his opinions, has been waiting for Quinn to trip up and you can bet he has been in Golisanoís ear to make a change. The big fly in that ointment is that Golisano made Quinn managing partner and if he ever wanted to send Quinn packing he would have to buy him out. We wouldnít expect that to happen unless Golisano finds a buyer for the team and in that case the entire organization would see an overhaul.

Ironically, Steve Pigeon and Larry Quinn have had similar careers from the standpoint both have been counted out more than once. After Pigeon was dumped by Byron Brown and Steve Casey following his victory in the race for Mayor of Buffalo, most figured his career in local politics was finished. Yet, Pigeon has returned stronger than ever thanks to his close ties to the Clintonís and has resurfaced as a major figure on the state scene.

Right now, Pigeonís success in local political races matches that of Quinn on the ice. Both have had their share of wins, but not lately. Pigeonís most notable defeats were the Mesi race against Mike Ranzenhofer in the senate and Kathy Konst against Dale Volker.

Right now we would put our money on Pigeon out lasting Quinn in the battle for Golisanoís favor. If that should happen Larry Quinn could devote his time to finally finishing the much bally-hoed Bass Pro project, which is a whole other column for another day.

E-mail Insider Corner at insiderpage@speakupwny.com.

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