I talk to numerous friends and co-workers on a daily basis and inevitably the topic turns to the Sabres. "What is wrong with this team?", they ask. This is one of those classic cases where it might be easier to list what is right with them than what is wrong with them.
How do we fix it?
The answer may seem easy, but when you look at the broad range of what the problems cover, it becomes a time consuming, painstaking process. The Buffalo Sabres problems go much further than on the ice. They have an atrocious front office that lacks any type of direction, and their customer relations department is oblivious at best.
How would I fix the Buffalo Sabres?
The firing line goes as followed: Darcy Regier, Ron Rolston and all his assistants.
I would remove Ted Black from being the voice of the team as he's not a hockey guy, so why is he the one covering up for the mistakes the hockey operations department makes in a verbal setting? Stick to the customer service side of it, Ted. You seem to love your job, but you’re spreading yourself too thin and are missing the little things that make the game experience more enjoyable.
For example, you replaced the classic organ with something that sounds like a cross between Miley Cyrus and me stepping on my dog's paws. Everything doesn’t have to be new and modern, sometimes older and crappier are just better.
I’m also bringing in hockey people with hockey knowledge to right the ship. Call me a Bucky Gleason fan if you want, but Rick Dudley is likely available and probably more than willing to come work 30 minutes from his Lewiston home.
If not him, I’m giving a quick call to Columbus to see if Ted Black’s old friend, Craig Patrick, is interested in coming in to try and pull off a Pittsburgh 2.0. My next head coach is a man who has bought his time riding minor league buses and has had a few chances as an NHL assistant.
“Hello, Mr. Lamoriello. Is Mike Foligno available? We want to bring him home.”
Because this organization lacks accountability for themselves, the Hockey Hotline show that runs on WGR is amongst the biggest "turn the other cheek" outlets whenever a problem comes up.
I hardly listen to the show anymore, but I’ll always remember Kevin Sylvester telling us he would not say anything negative about his “co-workers.” His words, not mine. These are not your co-workers. These are professional athletes. They do not refer to you as their co-worker.
A talk show cannot be successful if you refuse to point out the negatives. The day after the Kypreos report came out about Regier's job status, Sylvester’s only point of contention was that the report had no merit because Kypreos called Ken Sawyer the Team President instead of Ted Black. The show sounds so amateur, and much like the Sabres themselves, they choose to only focus on the positives.
If you followed nothing but the Sabres official twitter account, you’d swear we were a winning team with a great third jersey and tons of prospects tearing up the NHL. Paint your faces any way you want, Sabres, because we can all see right through it.
Game presentation is a big part of going to the game. Especially when your on ice- product isn’t exactly bringing the butts out of the seats. The entire experience is supposed to be fun, a way for a family to enjoy a night out. Sabres games are boring. The music is too loud and often uncalled for. Playing “Big John” after John Scott’s hit on Eriksson is classless. Whoever hit the play button on that doozy should be reassigned.
Do something during commercial breaks to make me forget I’m sitting there waiting for the game to start. Show old highlights of past games vs. the team we’re playing that night. Give me an out of town scoreboard with highlights from those nights’ games.
Give me a 2 minute segment on the history of the team we are playing. Inform me. Don’t be afraid to show another teams history on our scoreboard, it should make you that much more hungry to make history of our own. Invite retired players back and show a brief highlight package of that player and then put the spotlight on him and allow us to applaud. Its the simple things of the past that Buffaloians like to hold onto while hoping for the future.
Ted Black told us on his weekly radio show that this is what we signed up for as Sabres fans. No, Ted, it isn’t. This isn’t what you told us we were signing up for 2 ½ years ago. You and Terry Pegula said we were going to win “Cups”. At this point we can’t even win a home game. The Buffalo Sabres are the laughingstock of the hockey world. I went through airport security last week and opened my suitcase in Jacksonville, North Carolina. The TSA agent said, “Sabres fan? I’m sorry. Been a tough year.”
That’s what I signed up for?
A TSA agent having pity on me?
I'm closer to getting to hockey heaven by plane at this point.
I was so excited the day Terry Pegula took over. I sat with a friend in his basement in a set of gold seats from "The Aud" and I had tears in my eyes listening to Terry talk. We were high-fiving like we just won a playoff game. It was all turning around from here on out…multiple Stanley Cups and free agents begging for a contract with the Sabres. Life was going to be great. Now the guy who cried when he saw Gilbert Perreault sitting to his right couldn’t even muster up enough common sense to use 1 minute of precious ad space to acknowledge his former captain in Jason Pominville?
I’ve bled Blue and Gold. I love the Sabres, but there's nothing to hold onto right now. How on Earth are the Sabres going to get me back?
I see no end to this. I do not think management will make a change in the near future. I think there's a bunch of stubborn “yes, men” who go along with whatever Terry Pegula wants.
This problem is probably not one that can be fixed in 2 years. It’s probably a 5 year project at least. You need players who want to be here. A fresh coat of paint on the walls and some flashy new lights and video boards are not going to do it. We need to see that the people in charge understand what needs to be done to build a winner. It starts with cleaning house from top to bottom.
We’re sick of waiting, sick of the excuses and sick of losing. Suffering isn’t something they are going through. They are all going home at the end of the night with fat paychecks. Suffering is what we are doing with our hard earned money being thrown away and flushed down the proverbial drain.