Ed’s Vault: Surfing With Sabres in Hawaii

Featured Photo Credit: Ed Kilgore's personal collection.

Once again, the Sabres get out the golf clubs early and hope an older (but wiser?) Lindy Ruff can give a young and talented team some tough love and enough accountability to become relevant again. With that in mind, I thought some of you long time Sabres fans might appreciate a look back at my experience spending some time in Hawaii with some Sabres who were almost always relevant.

When Ch2 stole the Sabres TV rights away from Ch7 back in the late 70’s, little did I realize what an incredible adventure was coming my way. As intermission host, I traveled with the Sabres, and worked with play-by-play man Ted Darling and color analyst Pat Hannigan introducing each broadcast and conducting between period interviews with both Sabres players and opponent’s players as well.

That included live interviews with folks like Wayne Gretzky, Bobby Orr, Mario Lemieux, Phil Esposito and many more.

One aspect of the job I’d not expected, was surfing in Hawaii with Sabres Danny Gare, Terry Martin, Derek Smith and play by play man Ted Darling, where at one point we thought we’d lost Captain “Tickets” Gare, but I’ll get to that shortly.

Here I’d like to thank sponsors Atwal Eye Care and BluTusk Tech. Atwal, the official vision specialist for the Buffalo Bills, performed cataract surgery on both my eyes several months ago, and the result was fantastic. Life changing actually.

BluTusk Tech of Orchard Park specializes in bringing older Mac computers back to life. No need to spend thousands for a new one if you don’t need to. Great people too!

Anyway, Darling and the three Sabres players were offered a free 2-week trip to Hawaii as part of a Sabres travel package with a group of about 25 or so Sabres fans. I didn’t get the full freebie, but I did snag a 50% discount! This was back in my single days, and it’s kinda ironic that just about six years later Debbie and I were married and spent our honeymoon in – you guessed it – Hawaii.

What a great setup this was. We spent the first week at the Ilikai on Waikiki in Honolulu, then spent a second week on Maui in little cabins right at the edge of some 40-50 foot cliffs right on the ocean. The cliffs were literally 50 feet or so from our rooms, and the most peaceful sleep you can imagine is listening to those big waves pound the rocks right there.

The Ilikai was then fairly new, and a luxurious 5-star hotel. They had tennis courts on the roof, and we played tennis every single day. Darling, btw, was a darn good tennis player.

One day – we were right on Waikiki Beach – we decided to go surfing. Had never done it, and will never do it again, but it was an exhilarating experience. We all struggled. It was also hard work, paddling your surfboard out to where the big waves were breaking. My guess is the longest I managed to stand upright on my board was 2-3 seconds. If that.

So we’re all way out there laughing our you-know-what’s off at how freaking bad we were, and I’m watching Gare just as he tries to navigate a huge wave. He totally disappears. I’m counting seconds, and after maybe 5-10 seconds, Gare’s board comes flying straight upwards out of the wave a good 20 feet in the air, but just the board. No Gare.

We were all fairly close together, and immediately started paddling furiously to get to Danny, when suddenly he pops out of the water gasping and coughing, but very much alive. So what does he do? Back up like falling off a horse, right?

Not so much. Gare immediately laid down on his board and paddled as fast as he could back to the beach, and vowed loudly this is the last time he would surf for the rest of his life.

So the Ilikai also had a huge, beautiful pool, and we’re up there for some Hawaii sunshine, and who do we spot just across the water from where we had grabbed our lounges?

Angie Dickenson. For you young folks reading this, Angie was a STAR, who played a detective on the popular TV series Police Woman, and also had several movies to her credit as well. She, and Alan Arkin and some other actors I don’t remember names of, were there filming a movie. Angie was probably in her early 40’s then and quite stunning.

So hopefully Danny (Tickets) won’t mind this, but he apparently thinks Angie might know who a 50 goal NHL player is, and might care to meet him. He walks over to her with a big smile, and she smiles back for about 1/2 second, and that’s it. Needless to say, the needling we all piled on Gare after his total shoot down was intense. To his credit, Danny laughed just as hard as any of us.

When we made the move from Honolulu to Maui, the vacation changed totally. Now, instead of tennis, we had golf on the stunning Kaanapali Golf resort with incredible views of the Pacific and other islands.

Here’s a moment I’ll always remember. We’re ready to tee off on a par 3 hole that sits surrounded by ocean and pounding waves on 3 sides. You have to carry some water to reach the green, which is downhill. It was such a breathtaking view, I said “Wow. This is amazing!” T (Terry Martin), a lefty, steps up to the ball and answers “You got that right. Not sure if a 6 is enough”. I’m looking at the face of God and T is worried he doesn’t have enough club.

Oh well…

Photo from Ed Kilgore’s personal collection.

We did another cool thing on Maui, by renting a Jeep and driving the Hana trail, which is a twisting 50 mile drive along the coast. It’s almost like being on another planet, and I understand it has become a bit more commercialized now, but it was stupendous. When we got there, we arrived just in time to see Park Police making some nude swimmers get out of one of the natural pools.


And to close it out, I became the designated driver because everybody else was heavily armed with cans of Bud, and a couple days after Hana, we were driving in a very isolated part of the island when a quick storm popped up. Before I could even get stopped so that we could put the canvas top back up, Gare and Smith manually brought it forward, and the metal bar at the front of the top hit me squarely on the top of my head. I saw white flashes but managed not to crash us.

Just an incredible trip, and the Sabres fans – just great people – had plenty of opportunities to interact with the players and Ted and his wife Sheila, and it was a downer when it ended.

Good times.

Thanks again to Atwal Eye Care and BluTusk Tech.

Editor’s babble: Haha… Angie Dickinson shooting down Danny Gare is too funny for us old farts. Thanks as always to Ed Kilgore for sharing his memories on our blog. You can also find Ed on Xwitter @Kilgore2Ed.

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