As expected, the National Hockey League said Thursday that it will take
control of the Buffalo Sabres franchise from owner and former Adelphia
Communications Corp. chairman John Rigas.
According to a transcript of a press conference after the NHL's Board of
Governors meeting in Toronto, commissioner Gary Bettman said that although the
board took no formal action, 'based on discussions we've had and agreements
we've made with the Rigases, the operational control of the franchise resides in
the league office and through me.'
Bettman said that while the Rigases technically remain the owners of the
team, a buyer is being sought.
'That's how we will continue the process -- continue the club's operations
and proceed with the sale process,' Bettman said in the statement.
He added that he has been in contact with several parties that are interested
in purchasing the team, but he declined to identify them.
According to published reports, Robert E. Rich Jr., owner of the AAA Minor
League Baseball affiliate Buffalo Bisons, and Mark Hamister, owner of the
Buffalo Destroyers of the Arena Football League, have been trying to form groups
to buy the team and keep it in Buffalo, N.Y.