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Hamister Takes Center Ice

By Eileen Buckley

Buffalo, NY – Area businessman Mark Hamister said he is ready to "work his heart out" to help revive the financially troubled Buffalo Sabres.

But for now he remains powerless to make team decisions until the National Hockey League's Board of Governors approves him as the new owner.

That decision is expected sometime in January.

Hamister and his partner, Todd Berman sid the don't anticipate any problems with final NHL approval.

And since the financial collapse of owner John Rigas and Adelphia it may also need bankruptcy court approval.

But Hamister already sounds like a team owner, reassuring fans of a solid Sabres future.

"We also want to make the Sabres a team that will play in Buffalo, stay in Buffalo and succeed in Buffalo," said Hamister.

Hamister's partner is a major investor in the deal and is president of Chartwell Investments.

But neither Hamister, nor Berman would not disclose their bid price.

"With regards to price, like any deal we paid more than we wanted to, and the other side didn't get as much as they wanted," said Hamister.

"But maybe more importantly, with regard to price, this puts an end to the price this community has paid for lack of ownership of this team"

Hamister would also not offer details of potential public dollars in this deal.

He would only say that the long-term success of the team will require a partnership with local government.

Hamister is also asking Western New Yorkers to help by purchasing tickets.

Despite a winless streak, Hamister doesn't expect to have any say in team issues until ownership is approved.

"Certainly there might be some level of input once we have a closing of the transaction," said Hamister. "Prior to that time, we think that type of input might be inappropriate.

However, he added that there is a hockey club, and the sabres do an excellent job.

"That's their job to carry out those functions."

Hamister did reassure fans that if he is at the helm, The Sabres "best days are yet to come."