Almost two weeks ago, I was at Galleria Mall with my girlfriend, killing time before the Buffalo Sabres game. As I stood looking at something in a store, I heard a voice behind me saying "There must be a Sabres game tonight." I replied that there was. "I know," she stated, "I see a lot of Sabres jerseys.
What that young woman may not have understood, is that it didn't need to be a Sabres game to see Buffalo's support. I make frequent trips to Buffalo for sporting events, and to see my girlfriend. Any visitor can see that the city of Buffalo is behind it's hockey team 110%. The city may be struggling financially, but the Sabres are the heart and soul, giving Buffalo hope. The fans and faithful are not afraid to show it either.
Everyone is wearing blue and gold, and not just on game day. There are jerseys all over. Those who are not in jerseys, are in sweatshirts, player t-shirts, hats. I even have seen numerous Buffalo Sabres tattoo's on fans. On a good day, I would say one out of five people that I see in Buffalo are in some semblance of Sabres memoribillea. Of course, one would think, this is hockey season. This is year round, not just game day, not just after a win, year round.
This has been going on for years. After the lockout, the city of Buffalo was surprised with a solid team, that made a run deep into the playoffs. Borrowing injuries, Buffalo would have been a serious contender for the Stanley Cup in the 2005-2006 season. The minute the Sabres changed logo's, the Sabres jersey was the number one seller on NHL.com. Everyone was on board with the team. Even though the past two years the Sabres have not lived up to expectations and missed the playoffs, all year round, fans are wearing Sabres gear. I even saw last weekend, a Sabres jersey hanging over the barrier at Ralph Wilson Stadium during a Bills game.
I'm sure this takes place in other cities, but I haven't seen anything comprable to this in other cities. I was in Pittsburgh in 2005. I saw nothing really showing that there was a hockey team in that city. Two years ago I was in Denver. I saw no support for Denver teams over my vacation. Last year in New York City, I didn't even see a ton of stuff for the Yankees when I was there. This is while I was in the old Yankee Stadium for three ball games. In September, I was in Toronto. Again, nothing. Now, I know I haven't been everywhere, but Buffalo is the only city where year round, I see fans sporting their pride.
To come back to my conversation at Galleria Mall, the Sabres did play that night against the Thrashers. Unfortunately, the Sabres lost. The next morning when I went out to breakfast, low and behold, there was a Sabres fan in a jersey. Even after a loss, the fans stand true to the Sabres. How often does one see this? That regardless of what happens, a city stands behind it's hockey team. There could be a blizzard, and HSBC Arena is packed. Poor financial situation? The arena is packed. Even after the plane crash in Clarence Center on February 12th last year, the arena was packed the following day as the Sabres took on the Sharks.
No matter when the time of year, no matter what the situation, the city of Buffalo is brought together by the Buffalo Sabres. One team, has brought the city together, and pride is not only being shown for the Sabres, but for the city they play in. When it comes to hockey, Buffalo proudly stands next to their team, and is not afraid to show it, regardless of the situation. Because of this loyalty, I say that the fans of the Buffalo Sabres, are some of the best fans in the NHL.