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.