Blog Archives

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

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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

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On Pominville’s return to Buffalo

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I’m sure you guys are past arguing about whether or not the Sabres should’ve done anything for former Sabres captain Jason Pominville when he came back to Buffalo on Monday. Don’t care, I didn’t really get my two cents in yet, so deal with it.

In his first game back with his new team, the Minnesota Wild, Pominville was the storyline, before and after the game, earning the first star and notching the game winning goal in a 2-1 Sabres loss. The Sabres organization decided not to do anything special, didn’t bother to recognize him during the game, just went about it like any other game.

And the great part? They got killed for it afterwards. The Buffalo News got in on the action, as Mike Harrington tore the decisionArtvoice’s Puck Stop just did another piece about it.

From Harrington:

Pominville was different. His trade was a good deal for both sides. He didn’t ask out at all. Fans understood. It would have taken a quick PA announcement welcoming him back to Buffalo and thanking him for his years of service, a quick Jumbotron clip of his famous overtime goal in Ottawa. Let the fans applaud. Thirty seconds. Done.

From Kulyk & Farrell:

Jeers to the Sabres front office and game ops crew for not giving their former Sabres captain any love on the HD board. The script was simple: first TV timeout you run the highlight reel of the overtime series clinching goal against Ottawa in 2006 (“Now do you believe! These guys are good! Scary good!”), then show Pommers on the bench and let the fans do the rest. A goose bump moment stolen from the fans. But hey! The kiss cam and dancing recycling bins sequences were epic.

Or, the team could’ve taken a history lesson and did something really nice. Like they did in November 1997, when former captain Pat LaFontaine made his first appearance in Buffalo since being traded to the New York Rangers. Read the rest of this entry

Instigator Podcast #25: Petulance Defined

Since everyone else is talking about that shitshow press conference, we might as well cover it. Yours truly and Chris from Two In the Box sat down, had a beer, and talked about what a mess we’re all in.

Hit us up on twitter, @3rdManIn or @2ITB_Buffalo with comments.

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

Complaints & Grievances: Preseason deserves effort too

I really, really, really wanted to write this immediately after getting back from the bar after the game. But I decided that, in the interest of a more reasonable perspective, it’d be best to sleep on it and wait a day to speak my peace. So, I’m going to do my best to refrain from using profanities like I usually would so this doesn’t seem like a rant, but I have something I need to say as a season ticket holder and not a blogger.

I’m absolutely disgusted by how the game presentation was handled on Monday night.

Disgusted.

I’ve been going to games at FNC, HSBC, Marine Midland Arena, whatever you want to call it, regularly for well over a decade. I’m a proud season ticket holder. I will support the team in perpetuity. They’re my team. But I’m getting to the point where I’m losing interest in going to home games.

It’s not a new thing for me to complain about it on this site. And it’s definitely not something I’m ready to quit complaining about.

The Sabres organization has done a phenomenal job improving as a whole since February. I can’t understate that. I’m incredibly appreciative of the upgrades to the arena and the customer service. Ted Black and Terry Pegula, don’t ever change.

But, as a paying customer, I’m absolutely appalled with the half-assed job by the people running the experience inside the seating bowl.

And before I get a single comment about how “It’s just preseason,” that’s absolute crap. That excuse went the way of the dodo the moment season ticket holders got billed for both preseason games.

Personally, I was very happy that both preseason games were included in the package, unlike recent years where we’ve been given the non-Toronto game so the team can make an extra few bucks. I cherish the opportunity to see the players further down the depth chart in action. Unfortunately, for most of the fans at the game (I’m guessing the majority based on the large number of times I overheard someone say “Who is that?”) they showed up and left without ever having a clue as to who those players were. Read the rest of this entry

Case #19 revisited: Tim Connolly, his potential return and fan opinion

Almost three months ago, we discussed the potential of much-maligned pending-UFA center Tim Connolly returning to the Sabres, in a post we called Case #19: The Sabres might want to resign Tim Connolly.

That post got a lot of interesting feedback, some reluctant agreement, as well as a lot of disagreement. In the time since, Tim cooled off near the end of the year, failed to put up big numbers in the playoffs, and got hurt in Game 6 against Philadelphia, seemingly the death blow suffered by the Sabres. After Connolly took a cheap shot from then-Flyer Mike Richards, Buffalo never recovered and lost in seven games.

Incredibly, even seeing how the team suffered without him, fans were ready to move on without the team’s longest tenured player. The consensus is that he’s not wanted by the fans, whether he wants to be here or not.

When asked by 3rd Man In about the situation, Sabres president Ted Black was gracious enough to offer this:

“Darcy and the hockey department make decisions based on if/how that player can help us win the Stanley Cup. Our ultimate goal is to be as successful as we can be. Keep in mind we want players to be good teammates and good citizens off the ice as well. We’re aware that some players are more popular than others with our fans but the bottom line is we want to win the Cup. If the hockey department feels a certain player can help us accomplish that goal, then we will pursue (or retain, as applicable) that player.”

Basically, they’re going to do what they feel is best, whether the fans are going to love it or not.

In the case of Connolly, it’s a good bet fans won’t take too kindly to his return, despite the constant positive press he has received from The Buffalo News in his tenure as a Sabre.

Oh, I’m sorry, I meant negative. Read the rest of this entry