Blog Archives

It’s not about winning: Improving the Sabres’ game experience at First Niagara Center


There’s been a lot on this blog about things that don’t happen on the ice. Not everything you do as a Sabres fan is about the roster and the final score. Sports is more than that. It’s a cultural thing. It’s an experience.

Being a fan is a visceral, and it’s a huge investment both emotionally and financially to walk into First Niagara Center on a regular basis. You want to want to be there. You want to feel like you’re missing out if you’re not, like the investment is worth it.

I’ve talked (at times, ad nauseam) about things like game presentation, social media and marketing, not only because of my sports business background, but because to me, and every other fan, that stuff matters. Usually it’s fairly simple things, like not sticking a blooper reel on the scoreboard in a tight game, or playing songs during stoppages that will help set or reset the tone, or wanting a twitter account that doesn’t feel like it’s run by a teenage fan-boy/fan-girl. Simple things that, if addressed and optimized, can incrementally improve the overall experience, getting people more engaged and making the arena a better place to be.

Before this blog goes dormant, I want to put this wish-list out there. Some of these things may have been discussed, some of them may have not permeated the groupthink at First Niagara Center. Either way, I’m a season ticket holder (likely, for life) and the inherent value of being there for a game means something. It should.

This isn’t meant to be some sort of takedown or exposé on what the organization does wrong. This will get read by Sabres employees (Hey guys! Thanks for blocking me on twitter for no good reason! It’s still really dumb!) and I’m hoping what’s said doesn’t get taken personally or as an insult. This is just sort of a plea/roadmap for improvement that I want to put out there before I go away.

So, put on the coffee. Here’s a few things the Sabres can do around the arena to make it a better place to be. Read the rest of this entry

Omar Sharif and the Sabres New Media Summit

It takes a lot to motivate me to write these days, but I figure it’s time to get back in front of the keyboard.

Last night was the third “New Media Summit” held by the Buffalo Sabres, welcoming in 16 (yes, 16) bloggers/writers/fans to sit down with Ted Black and Sabres staff to discuss various topics relating to the team and organization.

After a nice happy hour and mingling (bonus points to the Sabres for getting food from La Nova, I approve) we were led to a “secret location” for the event. The secret location turned out to be the vaunted locker room.

I’m gonna spare a lot of the discussion points, because you can read that on pretty much every other site that was there.

Unintentionally, it turned out to be a nice little PR event for the Sabres. They were able to break some big news by way of a non-traditional sources, as everyone was pecking away at their laptops as Ted Black announced the new show on WGR. All the discussions were things they were well prepared for, including most of the questions, which were pre-screened.

While reading other accounts of the event shows that many attendees were quite enamored with the event, I’m pretty much on the opposite end.

Going in, I had anticipated a more open forum than the last one a few months ago, which had broached some controversial issues and led to some back-and-forth. That last one was supposed to be a “Live Suggestion Box,” and turned into a mini-press conference. This one was a straight up press conference. Press releases and everything.

It was fashion show, hence the title. The bloggers might as well have been Billy Charlebois walking down the catwalk and pushing the message. (Editor’s note: If you don’t get this reference, I need to tell you that you suck at being a hockey fan)

While the staff was fully prepared with everything that was going to be discussed, the attendees weren’t. Hell, they kept the location secret. Then they drop a bomb off the bat.

Personally, I fail to see how leading 16 people, who are basically some of your most passionate fans, into the locker room is gonna do anything but intimidate the majority of them. You could see people taking pictures afterwards. No one was going to sit there and challenge anyone on anything when that’s the environment. And for the most part, with few exceptions, no one did. That’s not a slight against my blogging brethren as much as disappointment with the way everything was set up. Read the rest of this entry

On venom, change and attitude

For years, it’s been fairly easy to ignore the frequent moronic work of certain media types, some specifically, at an area publication.

While some prove time and time again to be quality reporters or writers or personalities in the Buffalo sports market, some have done the opposite. Today would’ve been another Bucky Gleason column that would be ignored by many tired of his antics over the years. But there’s a certain line in the piece about Ted Black preaching patience that was brought to my attention via twitter:

Black found the people around him to be different than the irate talk-show callers he hears and venomous bloggers he reads who want the roster blown up and everybody fired.

Using that outlet to paint the blogging community with that brush is insulting to the entire group that helps extend discourse on our teams. It’s a completely ignorant potshot that in itself is venomous.

Does the basis of intent for this slam come from the constant distaste for Bucky’s work that we as bloggers have shown over the years? I’m sure it has something to do with it. But this piece isn’t about Gleason being a moron. There’s something else to this.

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The message attempted to be conveyed in the column seems to be along the lines of “everything is fine, don’t worry about it.” It points to talk-show callers and bloggers as being negative, and indirectly, wrong.

Mentioned in the column is growing discontent amongst the fanbase about the roster and staff. Personally, I think the number of people who think Lindy Ruff needs to be fired isn’t very large. Personally, I don’t think he’s the problem or the only problem right now.

In response to the unrest, Ted Black had this to say:

“Is there any thought of getting rid of Darcy or Lindy right now? No. None.”

I find that answer incredibly disheartening.

When I say that’s disheartening, I don’t mean that I don’t like it because I think Ruff should be fired. I absolutely hate the idea that a coaching change isn’t an option at all. To me, when you say that there’s no thought to it, you’re not considering every possible route to get where we all want the team to go. Read the rest of this entry