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Tangible changes in Sabreland

The Sabres' new ownership and management are intent on showing there will be action behind their words.

"It's one thing to talk about change," Sabres President Ted Black told The News on Thursday, "and it's quite another to see it every day."

So in the past week or so -- just two weeks after taking over the franchise -- owner Terry Pegula and Co. have:

*Spent more than $20,000 for a logoed carpet that was installed in the dressing room Thursday.

*Made plans to change the way fans watch the games, both in HSBC Arena (which will soon be slug-free) and on television (which will soon be home to a pregame show).

*Reached out to one of the two greatest players in franchise history, and Dominik Hasek will be back this month.

*Engaged the fans and embraced the customers' ideas, and they will continue to do so.

"We really tried to work hard these last two weeks because we do want to make sure that we show some actions behind our words, that the Sabres are a first-class organization and we are hockey heaven," Black said while giving a tour of the restyled dressing room.

Today's story touches on many of the changes. Here are a few others and an expansion of some topics:

*Black on why the Sabres have acted immediately: "It's kind of like buying a house. If you don’t get to stuff in the first six months, you kind of get used to that gutter that’s not attached right. Ten years go by and you’re like, 'Ah, I was going to fix that. I forgot.'

"Somebody asked me the other day, 'What are you going to do, and did you really mean it?' Everything you needed to hear and everything our players and staff needed to hear was said at that press conference. That wasn’t just air."

*On getting a Sabres logo on the dressing room carpet: "We decided to do it shortly after the first time we came in here. High school teams have logos. Where’s ours? It’s a source of pride and a source of tradition and myth."

*On the music played during games: "One thing you’ll see us do more and more of is reach out to the fans via our Website and ask fans to submit their ideas for songs and at what appropriate point in the game presentation to play them.

"I’m never going to have somebody play a song that all 19,000 people in the arena like and say, 'Yay, my favorite song.' But you can say, 'Hey, look, we give everyone an opportunity to submit stuff and we’re going to try and get to that playlist.' People can’t be upset about not being in engaged."

*Regarding the Sabres Suggestion Box, Black said the team will issue online responses to fans about topics that generate a lot of discussion. "I do want to thank the fans. Fifteen-hundred responses in a week was pleasantly overwhelming. I can assure you that we care about each and every one of them."

*On the dispute between MSG and Dish Network: "We’ll address it in our online responses, but unfortunately it’s one thing that I can’t fix. I can just say I get it, and as somebody who worked in TV I deeply understand it. I’ve asked MSG what can we do to help get this thing resolved."

*On any surprises during the first couple of weeks in town: "The pleasant surprise is this market is even stronger than I thought it was. There is a lot of passion. I thought coming in and having the first-day press conference, it would be a big to-do and it would kind of die off. The hunger that this community has for a winner, for somebody like Terry ... When a community or a sports fan feels like they’ve been kicked in the teeth for so long, everything seems like it’s too good to be true. I think in this case, it’s too good but it’s really true.

"I’ve heard people say, 'What did we do to deserve this?' I said, Stop. Buffalo deserves somebody like Terry Pegula, but it’s a two-way street."

---John Vogl


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John Vogl

John Vogl

John Vogl has been covering the Sabres since 2002-03, an era that has included playoff runs, last-place finishes and three ownership changes. The award-winning writer is the Buffalo chapter chairman for the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association.

@BuffNewsVogl | [email protected]

About Sabres Edge


Mike Harrington

Mike Harrington

Mike Harrington, a Canisius College graduate who began his career as a News reporter in 1987, has been covering the Buffalo Sabres since 2007. He is a member of the Professional Hockey Writers' Association and can vouch that exposed flesh freezes instantly when walking in downtown Winnipeg in January.

@BNHarrington | [email protected]


Amy Moritz

Amy Moritz

Amy Moritz, a native of Lockport, has a bachelor’s degree in journalism/mass communication from St. Bonaventure University and a master’s degree in humanities from the University at Buffalo. An endurance athlete, she has completed several triathlons, half marathons and marathons.

@amymoritz | [email protected]

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