For aslong as I can remember, The city of Buffalo has been known primarily as a "Football" town. Growing up I was taught two very important rules 1) Do not curse and 2) Hate the Miami Dolphins. From the time I was young to just a few short years ago many Buffalonians would not even recognize Hockey until Football season was over.
Times sure have changed!!!
The two seasons since the 04/05 NHL lockout have proven to me that there may be a shift in the rankings among pro sports teams in the Queen city. Nothing constitutes this statement more then the article below.
Those numbers are incredible!!!
What Mr. Slover does not mentioned in that article is how not only did each playoff game sell out but that there were an avg of 10,000 fans who couldnt get tickets to the game, watching the home playoff games on a jumbo tron outside the arena and arriving at the arena more then 2 hours before game time to attend the party in the plaza...rain or shine. During the Ottawa series, The HSBC arena opened its doors for road games so Sabres fans could watch their team together on the jumbo tron. Again roughly 10,000 fans showed that they bleed Blue and Gold and were their to support the home town team.
Merchandise sales were through the roof. Out of the top 10 jersies sold, six of them were Buffalo Sabres players. Sporting good stores in Buffalo and its surrounding areas couldnt keep Sabres merchandise on the shelves. I recall going Christmas shopping at a local mall in mid December. Walking by a sporting goods store I had noticed that the store surprisingly just got in 15-20 Sabres jersies. I came back around the store about 20 minutes later, each jersey was gone. That was amazing to me because in mid December the Buffalo Bills still had a shot at making the playoffs but the Bills merchandise wasnt even being looked at. So much for Buffalo being a Football town?!?!
Then we get to the week of July 1st 2007. Which could easily be named as one of the darker times in Sabres history. We lose our Co-captains Chris Drury and Danny Briere, at a Press conference Darcy Regier and Larry Quinn try to do damage control but find a way to make Sabres faithful more upset and the thought of re-signing Danius Zurbus went away when the Devils picked him up for 6 years on July 3rd. I thought for sure season tickets would take a huge hit due to these events taking place. Last I read, Every season ticket has been renewed and tickets will not be easy to come by again this year. This sounds an awful lot like the Buffalo Bills throughout the years.
Being a life long Buffalonian, I realize that this city along with our sports teams have a bad rap. Some warranted some not. I had Bills season tickets for 7 years up until this year and have been to more Sabres games then I can remember. I havent missed a Hockey game wether in person or on TV in years. I got married in August when my wife wanted a September wedding because I didnt want to miss a Bills regular season game or the start of camp for the Sabres. I tell you all that because I have not seen anything like what the fans of Buffalo have done for our Sabres since the early to mid 90's for the Buffalo Bills. The Sabres have taken over this town and to steal a phrase from the Bills Hall of fame coach Marv Levy..
"Were else would you rather be, then right here, right now??"
In closing, I dont want fans of other teams to think that I am taking anything away from you guys or disrespecting you in anyway. I see the passion you all have for your teams everyday when I come to Hockeybuzz. I applaud each and every one of you because you help prove to everyone else who doubts that Hockey is the greatest sport in the world.
wait till they miss the playoffs and see what happens
The issue being, we have seen the teams fan base suffer before when they werent as good as they are right now... its natural of course when a team is doing as well as they have been in recent years that interest will go up, as oiledrop said.. if they can miss the playoffs and still be as popular as as ever, we can say the city stood up to the test.
this coming from and oilers fan. your team wont even make it out of the basement in the league. you gave up your first round pick which is going to be a top 5 picks for....... dustin penner. WOW!!!
this coming from an oilers fan. your team wont even make it out of the basement in the league. you gave up your first round pick which is going to be a top 5 pick for....... dustin penner. WOW!!! this is very true it will be intresting to see how the fans react to this team not winning every game but i think that the support will sitll be there cuz many of the players are well liked
Yeah, the true Test is when a team misses the playoffs, but I've been to buffalo several times recently and the surrounding area and it sure seems as if times are changing. I walk around and all I see are people in buffalo jerseys, and I've driven by on a highway and always see houses with buffalo sabres signs. We'll see what happens when they miss the playoffs, but It does sure seem as if times are changing in Buffalo.