February 12, 2013
Niagara Falls, ON
Dave Ergsan grinned. After watching his Buffalo Sabres continue to customarily rolling over its opposition, Ergsan had plenty of reason to be smug with confidence. Aside from a single blemish, a 6-3 loss to their archnemesis Quebec Nordiques that Ergsan would rather forget, the Sabres haven't lost a single game this season, looking well on their way to winning a third straight Stanley Cup title.
“Things are good,” Ergsan said, standing over a railing at the edge of the second deck in the Sabres' practice facility. Five years ago, Ergsan had it remodeled. He took out the hard plastic seats the facility was known for and replaced them with soft, vinyl seats that were much easier and more relaxing to sit on. The arena interior was repainted, with a more vibrant set of blues and golds being used to create a more ambient feel. Lounges with leather seating dotted the concourses, with the facility stocked with fair-priced vendors of all sorts of food and drink items as well as Sabres memoriabilia. Marble and granite were applied wherever they could, especially in the bathrooms which had state-of-the-art plumbing keeping them running smoothly and cleanly. Stadium-level lighting and sound systems were also installed, as well as a “Jumbotron”-type scoreboard and cameras that brought the game to life to all fans attending the practice. Finally, to rake in extra cash, the ice surface became a nightclub and a restaurant when not in use. Yes, subtlety wasn't Ergsan's style.
He loved his Sabres, almost as much as he loves his cars. As CEO of Fiat of North America as well being the smart, savvy investor, Ergsan's worth has climbed into the billions, with an empire that surrounds everything with the city. He singlehandedly rebuilt downtown flushing it with all kinds of dining and entertainment facilities, as well as top-of-the line condos that spoke to the trendiness of the district. After revitalizing downtown, Ergsan's developments have grown bolder, seeking to gentrify other areas of Buffalo, all to remodel the city in his own vision. He would often be seen hanging around downtown, mixing with the locals and happily taking pictures and signing autographs. Such is the price of fame, but for Ergsan, he knew that deep down inside he had earned it.
“Hello Dave,” warmly said an elderly woman approaching Ergsan. She was accompanied by her husband, who was roughly the same age.
“Oh hello,” said Ergsan affably, shaking the couple’s hands by cupping them. He then enthusiastically ushered them to their seats. “Welcome to the rink…please, make yourself at home.”
“Oh Dave, you’re so sweet!” said the lady, smitten with Ergsan. The 40-year-old Ergsan rigorously kept up his looks, dyeing his hair jet black and slicking it back with the finest hair gel, as well as having piercing brown eyes that commanded the attention of even the laziest onlooker, with a pearly white smile that invited the coldest of souls in. He normally could be found with a proud assortment of simple yet regal suits, but today he was more casually sporting a simple blazer and a dress shirt and pants. Ergsan wanted to relax today.
“You must be really excited about how the team is doing,” said the man giddily, doing his best to calm his nerves at meeting Ergsan.
“I am merely pleased,” said Ergsan warmly but calmly. “Yes, 35 games in with but a single loss is a very extraordinary record, but, as you already know, we have our sights set on another prize. Until we win it, all the accomplishments of our season are but mere trivialities.”
“Oh yes, of course,” stuttered the old man. “Still, I think the team is doing very well…we haven’t had a team this good since the ‘70s…all thanks to you.”
“Every team is envious of us because they don’t have an owner that cares for the team like you do,” beamed the woman, nudging herself ever closer to Ergsan.
Ergsan casually put his arm around the woman, whose heart started to flutter. “I care about this team like I care about every one of you,” he said, impassioned. He began to wave his other hand dramatically for emphasis as he continued. “Above all else, I never want anyone to think that I don’t put every ounce of my heart and soul into everything I do,” Ergsan said, “I would rather be told that I care too much instead of caring too little.”
“Well we’re glad you care like you do,” said the man, smiling profusely. The husband and wife went about their way, exchanging their heartfelt goodbyes with Ergsan, with the woman getting a hug and a kiss from him. Ergsan smiled and chuckled as the pair left, as a meeting like that was routine for him.
The people of Buffalo loved him for all he did for the city, so much so that some have started to call it the “Ergsanian Empire.” Ergsan wasted no time in returning that love, with his philanthropy so endearing that Buffalo politicians have come to accept him (some reluctantly) as an “honorary member” of city council. Ergsan, thus, can sit in on city discussions and while he can't technically influence proceedings, his reach is so pervasive that he does so in practice.
“Sir,” said Ergsan's vice president, Tim Choktay, arriving to sit with him.
“Yes Tim,” answered Ergsan without bothering to look at Choktay.
“I have the results for the vote on your plans for the development of the waterfront.”
“Good.” Ergsan smiled smugly.
“Yup...council voted unanimously in support. So we can start digging.”
“Good. I knew they would...they're like the rest of this city...ignorant, mindless sheep. They already were before I arrived but they continue to be now, all because of me. Never forget Tim, if you give people what they want, they will forever be at your mercy. After all,” Ergsan continued smugly, “how could you say no to the guy that gave you a little bit of a favour?”
“Excellent point,” agreed Choktay, also smiling smugly and taking in his drink. He then paused before changing the subject.
“What do you make of this Jasmine Bryar character?” asked Choktay.
“Who?” Ergsan said, bemused.
Choktay spoke with concern. “You know, the one that called you hockey’s ‘Red John’?”
Ergsan scoffed. “Oh, her? She’s nothing but an ill-informed puck bunny. We’ve been through this before…she’s just a jealous fan with an axe to grind…let her speak…what’s the worst she could do?”