By Alan Pergament
Inquiring minds want to know:
Why didn't Channel 2 and Channel 4 send someone to Philadelphia to cover the Buffalo Sabres selections in the National Hockey League draft when little-watched Channel 7 and Time Warner Cable News did?
It was a shake my head decision by the two top local TV news departments.
It was less surprising that Channel 4 wasn't there since it only has two members on its sports team -- Steve Vesey and Lauren Brill.
But Channel 2's decision not to send someone and instead rely on a stringer was a bit of a shocker since it has the largest sports department in Western New York and its network, NBC, carries NHL games.
In addition, this edition of the Sabres draft was more important that usual in that the team used the second pick of the draft to select Sam Reinhart, and new General Manager Tim Murray has quickly developed a reputation as a quote machine.
Asked about the station's reasoning for not sending anyone to Philly, Channel 2 General Manager Jim Toellner wrote in an email: "We have not sent anyone in recent memory, except when they were in Toronto. Perhaps next year we will re-think that."
He added that sports director Adam Benigni hired a freelance video journalist the station has used before to get interviews for newscasts over the weekend.
"I would also point out that we were the only station that went to the NHL combine in Toronto, and all this past week leading up the draft had strong profile pieces on the top five prospects available for the Sabres to draft," wrote Toellner.
After reading that, I told him it is precisely because Channel 2 does the best job in town covering sports that people wondered why it wasn't in Philly. In an odd way, the complaints were a compliment.
Channel 7, meanwhile, really deserves a compliment for being the only broadcast station in town to send someone to Philly. It sent Shawn Stepner to report for its newscasts.
When you are No.3, it is a good idea to try harder.
Channel 7 General Manager Mike Nurse explained the station's reasoning for sending Stepner in a text.
"We felt given the Sabres high draft position that it was critical to have a reporter on site to report on happenings as they occurred," wrote Nurse.
He added that Stepner was also on location for the NFL Draft in New York City.
"The Sabres and the Bills are more than sports teams in WNY," wrote Nurse. "They are part of the tradition and hopes and dreams of WNY. We intend to have expanded live coverage at Bills training camp in the coming weeks as well."
Of course, all the stations do that for the Bills. It is just surprising they all didn't feel it was important to send someone to Philly to cover the Sabres big weekend.
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