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Sale of Sabres put off again

Compiled from Times wires
© St. Petersburg Times
published February 4, 2003

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Buffalo businessman Mark Hamister suspended his bid to purchase the bankrupt Sabres on Monday and might withdraw completely now that his partner has pulled out.

The announcement came hours before he faced a fourth and likely final deadline from the league to sign an asset purchase agreement to complete his conditional purchase.

The decision also came as Hamister's majority partner, Todd Berman, president and founder of New York City-based Chartwell Investments, withdrew his financial support.

"Given the uncertainty and complexity of the entire process in addition to Chartwell's decision, I need to step back and re-evaluate whether it makes sense to move forward," Hamister said.

Hamister didn't rule out finding a new partner but said it was best for him to move aside so another potential buyer could step forward.

Unless a prospective owner steps forward, the Sabres potentially could fold or be relocated after this season.

"Our objective remains to find a purchaser who will maintain the franchise in Buffalo," league vice president Bill Daly said.

Rochester billionaire B. Thomas Golisano said he is prepared to re-enter the process after his bid was rejected by the league in November.

BLUE JACKETS: Defenseman Jean-Luc Grand-Pierre and right wing David Ling were recalled from Syracuse. Grand-Pierre was on a rehab assignment after breaking the orbital bone near his left eye Dec. 29.

BLUES: Center Doug Weight has a deep bone bruise in his left ankle and will miss 7-10 days. He was injured during the third period of Sunday's All-Star Game when he was hit by teammate Ed Jovanovski's shot.

KINGS: Forward Ian Laperriere had surgery on his right knee to remove bone chips and scar tissue. The team said Laperriere, who has two goals and 10 assists in 46 games, is expected to miss 4-6 weeks. Also, goaltender Cristobal Huet was recalled from Manchester.

PENGUINS: Mario Lemieux, out of the lineup for all but a few minutes of their past 11 games because of a sore groin, will play tonight.

Minor league to require visors

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Starting next season, every East Coast Hockey League player will be required to wear a visor. It's the first pro hockey league to mandate eye and facial protection.

It should cut down on injuries, ECHL president Brian McKenna said, and lead to fewer worker compensation claims. There will be no exceptions, including players who arrive from other leagues in midseason.

College players have been required to wear full face masks since 1979. Junior hockey in Canada and the United States also have mandated visors.

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