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NHL to Take Over Sabres Operation

June 20, 2002

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TORONTO (AP) _ The NHL is taking over operation of the financially troubled Buffalo Sabres.

Commissioner Gary Bettman said Thursday that owner John Rigas had agreed to the move. Although Rigas technically remains the Sabres’ owner, the move helps clear the way for the potential sale of the franchise.

``Based on discussions and an agreement we’ve made with the Rigases, the operational control of the franchise resides in the league office,″ Bettman said. ``They’ve empowered us to operate the franchise.″

Bettman sounded hopeful that the team could be sold soon.

Buffalo businessman Mark Hamister is trying to form a group of investors to purchase the Sabres and keep them in Buffalo.

Bettman said the NHL will not pick up any of the team’s debts, which amount to $157 million owed to Adelphia Communications.

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