By Mike Harrington
Sabres president Ted Black said he didn't feel the need to apologize to fans when he appeared on WGR Radio Monday morning. He had a different thought Tuesday as he met the media with General Manager Darcy Regier in First Niagara Center.
"We really appreciate the patience of our fans. Sometimes fans' patience can be tested to the limits and sometimes broken and we hope that hasn't happened here in Buffalo," Black said.
"Certainly the fans are entitled to an apology from everyone involved in this and on behalf of the Pegulas and the Sabres we do apologize that the fans have to go through this. The thing that I'm personally most excited about is that this potentially will be a 10-year collective bargaining agreement and we don't have to go through this stuff for a long time ... most importantly the fans don't have to go through this crap for the next 10 years.
"So we really appreicate the fans' patience. We're back in business. We're looking forward to it. We haven't played hockey in nine months and that in and of itself is way too long."
At a 30-minute meeting with the media, Black revealed the team is still waiting on the season schedule and it may not come until after Wednesday's Board of Governors ratification meeting in New York City. Training camp is expected to open Saturday, Sunday or Monday with the season starting Jan. 19 but Black said he some indication Buffalo's first home game will be Sunday, Jan. 20.
Here's a summary of some other key points:
---Black said owner Terry Pegula supported the lockout. "We voted in favor of it. It was a unanimous vote. ... I can only speak to our situation and that was our support for the commissioner was unwavering."
"We're a member of 30 different clubs all within one league," Black added. "We support it. It's going to vary from club to club. How [Pegula] operates this club and decides to direct his resources financially isn't the same as it is in maybe other cities. We're a member club and sometimes we need to do what's in the best interests of the entire league even though it might not be in our self-interest."
---Black said there will be no changes to ticket prices, for either individual games or season tickets. He said the team's variable pricing structure will have to be re-worked when the schedule is announced based on opponents and days of the week.
---Regier said Marcus Foligno and Cody Hodgson have been pulled from the lineup at Rochester in anticipation of playing for the Sabres. Defenseman T.J. Brennan will come to camp as well while the Sabres figure out what to do with him (he must clear waivers to return to the AHL).
---Regier said he likes the personnel on the Sabres' roster but needs to work on the team's depth for surviving 48 games in approximately 100 days.
---Regier said No. 1 draft pick Mikhail Grigorenko will come to camp and the team isn't worried about burning the first year of his entry-level contract in a short season if he proves to be NHL-ready.
"It's not at the forefront. It's really if he can step in and contribute. ... It's about the hockey club and his ability to play for this team."
---Regier acknowledged the Sabres are considering reaching out to free agent Jochen Hecht in Germany. Nathan Gerbe had a small procedure on his back and Cody McCormick is having finger problems; neither might be ready for the start of the season.
Hear the full audio of the session below.
Ted Black & Darcy Regier