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Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Since the 2005-06 NHL season, the Pittsburgh Penguins have won the Stanley Cup once. The Los Angeles Kings and Chicago Blackhawks have each won the Stanley Cup twice in that same period. Sidney Crosby’s first NHL season was the 2005-06 season when he scored 39 goals and notched 63 assists for a total of 102 points. The Penguins did not win the Stanley Cup in 2005-06. They actually won the Stanley Cup in 2008-09 when Crosby scored 33 goals and added 70 assists for a total of 103 points.

What does this have to do with anything?

One of the more annoying topics of discussion I have been hearing from clueless Buffalo sports fans for the past few months is the idea that the Buffalo Sabres should tank the 2014-15 season so that they can draft Connor McDavid in the 2015 draft. Why? Because Connor McDavid is supposed to be the second coming of Sidney Crosby and McDavid is going to lead the Sabres to the Promised Land.

What does this have to do with Sidney Crosby?

The prevailing notion among hockey fans is that the 2003-04 season (the 2004-05 season was lost to a lockout) was a tank job by the Penguins to insure that they would get the first overall pick and use it on Sidney Crosby. Then the Penguins supposedly tanked again in 2005-06 to be able to draft Evgeni Malkin.

These are the events that clueless Buffalo sports fans point to as justification for asking a team of professional athletes to lie down and purposely throw away an entire year of their careers. This is the line of logic people are using to justify their open disdain for winning and their giddy excitement at the possibility of finishing dead last again in the NHL. My response is that since the Penguins have not won the Stanley Cup every year since Crosby was drafted, then a lot of professional athletes gave up their pride for nothing.

First of all, there is a draft lottery that prevents the worst team in the league from getting the first overall pick automatically. The Sabres lost that lottery and used the second overall pick in the 2014 draft to get Samson Reinhart. Remember Reinhart? Many clueless fans were so happy to get Reinhart and now no one even talks about him.

Secondly, Connor McDavid has not played a minute in the NHL and there is no way of knowing how good he will be until he gets here. No, there is no such thing as a “guaranteed” superstar in the NHL. McDavid will have to prove himself like everyone else, no matter who he plays for.

Thirdly, thanks to some excellent maneuvering by general manager Tim Murray, the Buffalo Sabres have three first round picks in the 2015 draft. The worst case scenario is that the Sabres could trade all three of those picks to whoever gets the first overall pick and then grab McDavid. But I seriously doubt that Tim Murray is that stupid.

If you are a “fan” who wants your team to lose so that your team has a 20 percent chance at getting an unproven kid who may or may not become the cornerstone of your franchise, then you are just another disillusioned meathead. A championship team is built with rookies and veterans. Tim Murray is trying to put together a dynasty and you don’t do that by gambling everything on one, unproven player.

This is my take on the idea of tanking the 2014-15 season. If Tim Murray and Terry Pegula can actually convince people like Brian Gionta, Ted Nolan, Bryan Trottier, Tyler Ennis and Chris Stewart to lay down and throw away an entire season on someone who has never played in the NHL, then I would get behind the idea. But I seriously doubt that those intense professionals, who base everything they do on winning, will accommodate such a ridiculous request.

The Penguins have been outplayed in the Sidney Crosby era by the Chicago Blackhawks and the Los Angeles Kings. The Kings didn’t tank for anyone and the Blackhawks finished 26th the year they drafted Patrick Kane. That means that the Kings and the Blackhawks just played their games, built their teams and eventually won two Stanley Cups each. That is the way to build a championship franchise.

The Buffalo Sabres will not be a good hockey team in 2014-15. That is to be expected. But there is no way that Ted Nolan is going to risk one of the years on his three-year contract just to try and help Tim Murray draft a kid that may or may not work out.

The team will play hard this season and the team will lose more games than it wins. But that is what happens during a rebuild. If you expect the Sabres to simply lay down and lose for any reason, then I think that Ted Nolan and his crew are prepared to seriously disappoint you.

Nick Oliver is a Niagara County resident who is prepared to tank his column for no reason whatsoever. His column appears every Wednesday and is not read by Sidney Crosby.

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TOWN OF LOCKPORT — Filming for a feature-length film will take place today and tonight at the LaFarge quarry at Saunders Settlement Road and the William Gregory Bypass.

The film, "Where Heaven and Hell Collide," is based on a true story and slated for theater release on Memorial Day, 2016, according to the movie's website:

The story of how Jim Peters and his company — T-shirts 4 Troops — have helped 11,000 combat troops. Heroic men and women who have lost limbs, sight, hearing and are left emotionally scarred from the battlefield. In this feature-length film we find Jim; on his first day at Walter Reed Medical Center in Washington, DC, where he visits troopers that narrowly avoided death in combat. Jim nurtures and encourages them to live life when most have given up hope and only wish they’d died from their wounds. Jim does it armed with nothing but a Marvel Comic Super Hero t-shirt, love of his fellow man and courage!

The movie is directed by Greg Robbins, who also wrote the script, along with Peters. It stars Dean Cain of "Lois and Clark" fame, as well as Kristy Swanson from the Joss Whedon movie, "Buffy the Vampire Slayer," although Tim Clark of the Buffalo-Niagara Film Commission said he doesn't believe either of the stars will be in Lockport today.

The filming at the quarry is to recreate a war scene in the Middle East, Clark said. It will involve military equipment, simulated gunfire and simulated explosions. A notice from the Niagara County Sheriff's Office on Monday was sent to alert area homeowners and passers by not to be alarmed. Filming is expected to begin around 2 p.m. and wrap up at the LaFarge site around 3 a.m.

The movie has a Facebook page showing photos from some filming done Tuesday in Buffalo.

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BARKER — An East Avenue woman told Niagara County Sheriff's deputies on Tuesday that a 16-gauge shotgun of hers had gone missing.

The woman said she was storing it at a friend's house on Haight Road. She said the last time she had seen it was Labor Day weekend when she cleaned it. She described it as a Mossberg with a wood stock and a leather pad which was engraved with diamonds.

Patrol spoke with the friend who was storing the shotgun. He told them that the last time he saw it was Labor Day weekend as well. He told patrol he was unaware it was missing and allowed them to look for it at his residence, although it was not found.

Patrol said it would check local pawn shops and Craigslist for the gun.

Barker Police Department is also aware of the description of the shotgun that is missing and will continue to check along with NCSO.

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The National Weather Service calls for partly cloudy skies today with a high near 72 and an overnight low around 54.

Thursday will be mostly sunny with a high near 77 and a low around 58. Friday, there's a chance of showers with a high near 79 and a low around 53. Chance of precipitation is 70%. Saturday, more showers are possible with a high near 60 and a low around 42.

Sunday is expected to be partly sunny with a high near 55 anda low around 44. Monday, there's a chance of showers with a high near 62 and a low around 47. Tuesday also brings a chance of showers with a high near 63.

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Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Documents returned to East Niagara Post this afternoon after a Freedom of Information request include case supplemental narrative report's by Officer Thomas Gmerek, Lt. Marshall Belling, and Officer Matthew Streckwald.

The LPD officers and lieutenant each offer a unique point of view on the case Saturday when Belling and Officer Michael Wasik shot and killed a dog on South Street.

The FOIL request did not return a case supplemental narrative report from Wasik, who was reportedly the officer first attacked by the dog and who tried to use mace before drawing his gun on the eight-year-old pit bull named Junior.

Belling's report is the longest of the three and provides the fullest account of the ordeal from when he and Wasik arrived on scene until he left. It can be read in its entirety below.

Officers Gmerek and Streckwald offer their accounts from when they arrived on scene, after Belling had requested backup and an ambulance of the police radio. Their accounts can also be found below.


Officer Thomas Gmerek:

Lt. Marshall Belling (page 1): 

Lt. Marshall Belling (page 2): 

Officer Matthew Streckewald: 

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HARTLAND — A Medina man is in critical condition after a one-vehicle crash in the 9400 block of Ridge Road shortly after 5 p.m.

Steven R. Churchfield, 48, was taken to Erie County Medical Center this evening via Mercy Flight after the crash, in which Niagara County Sheriff's officials determined his vehicle was eastbound on Ridge Road when he failed to negotiate a curve in the road. The vehicle traveled onto the south shoulder striking a utility pole severing the pole in half. The vehicle continued off the road where it overturned coming to rest in a field.

Churchfield is currently listed in serious condition at E.C.M.C.

The accident is currently being investigated by Niagara County Sheriff's Office Accident Investigation Unit where charges are pending.

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The owner of the dog killed by Lockport police on Saturday had told LPD that "the dog doesn't like people in uniform. It doesn't like cops or even the postman," according to city records received this afternoon from East Niagara Post through a Freedom of Information request.

Police Chief Larry Eggert had said Sunday that the dog, known as Junior, had bitten another police officer prior to the incident Saturday in which the dog bit two police officers before it was shot and killed by LPD during what was to be a response to a trespassing complaint.

That previous incident happened March 22, 2012 when Officer Eric Morgan responded to 326 South Street to serve a subpoena.
Patrol knocked on the door and a male stepped out on the porch and was identified as Mr. (Raul) Desantiago," an interview report from the time states. "As patrol was issuing the paperwork, a large pitbull came out of the residence and forced his way past Mr. Desantiago."

"The dog stopped for a moment and looked at patrol. As patrol stepped backward to create distance from the animal, it lunged up at patrol and bit into patrol's vest locking onto the medical pack in the outside carrier. The dog began to shake his head and locked down on the vest."

"Patrol began striking the dog in the face with a closed fist and Mr. Desantiago began pulling at the animal to get him to release."

"The dog was eventually pulled off and secured in the house."

"Mr Desantiago went and got the animal's owner who was identified as Zachary Smith (dob 06/02/1972). When patrol advised Mr. Smith what had taken place, his response was 'The dog doesn't like people in uniform. It doesn't like cops or even the postman.' "
A court ruling declaring Junior a "dangerous dog" was one of nine documents received by 
East Niagara Post today as part of a FOIL request into the history of the dog and LPD. (ENP 
Junior was seized at the time time by Lockport's Dog Control Officer Joannie Black pending a dangerous dog complaint hearing in City Court.

That hearing was held March 27, 2012. City Court Judge Thomas DiMillo ruled that the dog was, in fact, dangerous and ordered Smith to:
  1. Restrain the dog by fence or leash necessary to insure the animal remains on the respondent's premises.
  2. When on public premises the animal shall be leashed and muzzled. The leashed animal shall be in the control of an adult. 
Smith was told that any violation of the order would result in his being charged with criminal contempt. 

Further documents reveal that Junior bit a man in 2010.

The complainant, Kevin J. Horton, 77 Main St., had told patrol that he was "walking down Washburn Street when a medium sized dog ran up and bit him. Mr. Horton attempted to pet the dog when it bit his left arm. Mr. Horton struck the dog several times before it let go of his arm and ran away. Mr. Horton has never seen the dog before nor could he remember where the dog ran to, its breed, or the color of it."

Horton later changed his story, saying that he had shown up to Smith's house — who he referred to as a friend — "wearing a ski mask and the dog started barking at him and then bit him."

Another complaint filed against the animal — this one on Oct. 27, 2013 — states that the landlord of 335 South St., told police that "his tenant at 335 South Street has a pit bull there and has conducted dog fights. He stated that he advised the tenant to get rid of the dog as the dog is not the tenant's and is not supposed to be there."

Patrol went to 335 South St. at the time but did not see Junior on the premises.

"Patrol did speak with Mr. Smith who stated that the dog did have scratches from another dog but not from dog fights conducted by him," the complaint states.

No charges appear to have been filed at the time.

Another document — a bill from Grand Island Small Animal Hospital, 2323 Whitehaven Road, Grand Island — shows that the dog was billed Monday for an autopsy of the dog. The original bill was for $993.21, which included cremation/burial, but a revised bill without cremation/burial totaled $744.86.

Results of the autopsy were not included in the documents received.

RELATED: Documents received from the Freedom of Information request included police narratives. Read them later word-for-word.

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