This Ottawa-Buffalo series is going to be an exciting one. Geographically, Leaf fans could easily get their hockey fix being smackdab in between these 2 towns. At the same time, it's easy for Leaf fans to hate both these teams. Do you hate the team that crushed your Cup dreams some years ago, or do you hate the team who brags about crushing your dreams, yet never has? Daniel Alfredsson's stick "throw" or Andrew Peters' golf swing?
Eugene Melnyk wants Leaf fans to get on the bandwagon for his team. Probably a cash grab because no one in Ottawa has the money the suits in Toronto has, and there are more Leafs fans in Ottawa than Sens fans anyway. Except, why would we get behind Ottawa for 4-7 games when they treat us like crap the rest of the time? Where were they in 1999 or 2002, when the Leafs were Canada's team? Well, in 2002 I think I know where they were...
I've travelled to Leafs games in Ottawa and Buffalo. They were 2 totally different experiences. Buffalo was very friendly, very polite, gave directions well when asked... Just generally reminded me of the classy fans I constantly encounter in the Canadian Football League. Ottawa fans, not only were rude and abusive, and I couldn't even get a straight answer when I asked how to leave the building! I was once warned by my Father, when in Montreal, watch my hat. Habs fans like taking them and throwing them. How wrong he was... It was in Ottawa someone did that.
But my personal experiences aside, you can also look at how both teams react in general to Leafs fans.
Both teams charge a premium for Leafs games. I believe both are 40%. The difference: The Sens overcharge for their tickets, then play all kinds of tricks to prevent the people they're gouging from buying them. Cancelling orders with Toronto addresses or 416 numbers, only allowing season ticket holders, only allowing Ottawa Sun readers, only allowing mailing list subscribers (like me) to buy their tickets, making Leafs game part of packages that include opponents no one wants to see. The Senators make it perfectly clear they want nothing to do with us. Fine Eugene. We'll remember that in the playoffs.
Buffalo charges that same premium, however: they also offer packages which feature entire Maple Leaf packages, they have box office locations in Canada, and they even accept Canadian currency at the arena concession stands and snack bars. And I never see hockey games where a national anthem is sung for the country with no teams in the game. I don't see too many Sabres games on TV, but I know I just saw them sing Oh Canada in a game against the Rangers.
The Sabres do everything they can to make Canadians feel welcome. Ottawa wants nothing to do with anyone else in the country, except for themselves. The Buffalo Sabres do what they can to be part of the NHL community. The Senators feel the world should revolve around them when they've done nothing to earn it, and can't even attract their own fans.
Needless to say, I think alot of Canadians can get on the Buffalo Sabres bandwagon right now. Despite the fact they're based out of the States, they do what they can to make themselves "Canada's Team."