Sign of the Times: Joe DeLuca (in white Sabres jersey) poses with his fellow Section 300 patrons at the HSBC Arena.
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Hall of Fame quarterback Jim Kelly is Buffalo's most famous resident: "If the Bills were to leave here, this city might go into a huge funk," says Kelly. "But [owner Ralph Wilson] knows that Jack Kemp and I are both very interested if the time comes for something to happen with the team."
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Last season Sabres captain Chris Drury asked team officials to place a photo of the Stanley Cup inside the dressing room. The players see it every time they exit for the ice.
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The new guard of Sabres fan: Tom O'Connor, Stephen Arlington, Sara Stich, and Joe Beamer are Sabres season-ticket holders under the age of 19.
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Says Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown: "People in this community rise and fall with their sports teams. Everybody is pumped up right now. Everyone is feeling optimistic."
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Hall of Fame lineman Joe DeLamielleure, part of the famed "Electric Company" that blocked for O.J. Simpson, greets fans with WGR-AM sports director Howard Simon (right) outside of Ralph Wilson Stadium.
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Chef-owner Mark Hutchinson often serves Sabres and Bills at his popular restaurant, Hutch's. "Every Sabres game this year has been a like a playoff game," he says. "It's the craziest thing I've ever seen."
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Bills fans brave the elements during a win over Miami last December. The game did not sell out, the first Dolphin game not to air locally since 1987.
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Bartender Joe Allman of The Swannie House says of his patrons: "Some are getting up in age, and I can honestly say it would make their life complete to see a Stanley Cup or Super Bowl."
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Dr. Robert Stein (right), a veterinarian at Amherst Small Animal Hospital, and his daughter Ellina (left), snag an autograph from Sabres goaltender Ryan Miller. "I'm always talking about the Sabres," says Stein. "Even in the operating room."
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Sabres fans are hoping the quiet streets of downtown Buffalo will feature a championship parade come June.
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The season of hope: Signs greet visitors at the Greater Buffalo International Airport.
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