Archive for June, 2011

It’s Called Cap Circumvention, Beeyotchs.

As Sabres fans we have no frame of reference for this, but Darcy just gave some dude named Christian Ehrhoff forty million dollars in the form of a ten-year contract. The deal is structured all wonky-like, and Ehrhoff gets something like 45% of the total contract in the first two years.

I know almost nothing about Ehrhoff. I know he’s German, and I know he used to play for the Canucks and the Sharks, and I know he’s an offensive-defensman.  I hope he’s good, because he’s (supposedly) going to be a Sabre for the next ten years.

But (and this might just be the three beers I drank with dinner talking), I do not care about ANY of that.

I just canNOT believe that the Sabres are all of a sudden a team that is throwing around money like we just don’t care. WHAT THE HELL HAPPENED HERE? Terry Pegula is like some sort of hilarious DREAM. This is exactly the kind of contract that Darcy would’ve bitched and whined about last year. This is the kind of contract that I neeeevvvver thought I’d see the Sabres signing. This is a Flyers contract, not a Sabres contract. This contract is blatantly unfair to the teams operating on a tight budget, AND I LOVE IT.

Cap circumvention used to make me angry, but now it makes me smile.

Frankly, I don’t give a rip if Ehrhoff is “worth it”. It’s not my money, and thanks to Darcy’s shifty negotiating skillz, the contract is preposterously front loaded and hilariously cap-circumvent-y. If this doesn’t work out, Pegula will either buy out the contract or it will be drastically altered by the new CBA in a few years. Either way, HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! We got a reasonably good defenseman in a weak UFA year for only $4 million against the cap! WOOOOO!

And free agency hasn’t even started.

Shit just got real, yo. REAL AWESOME.

9 Things

1. I’m back (from camp), and I’m better than ever.

2. The end of Apple Hill usually coincides with start of the NHL free agency, which tends to contribute to my post-camp malaise. Leaving summer camp is sad, and watching other teams improve while the Sabres trot out Darcy for his bi-annual announcement about “building through the draft” doesn’t help matters at all. BUT THIS YEAR IS DIFFERENT! This year we have Richie Rich in our corner, and damn it, Terry Pegula gets his man. I honestly don’t have any idea what to expect, but I doubt I’ll be bored and/or horrified on July 1st this year.

3. On the other hand…. I know we’re all flush with excitement over the prospect of signing everyone and their mother on Friday, and lord knows it’s a good feeling, but I feel a responsibility to remind people that the free agent pool sucks donkey butt this year. It’s frustrating, but it’s true. (Yesterday I made a joke on Twitter wishing for the 2007 free agent pool instead of the 2011 free agent pool, and not only did no one laugh, but one person told me it was the most depressing tweet she’d ever read. Too soon?)

Brad Richards is going to command STUPID money, not because he’s worth stupid money but because he’s the best available option if you want to spend stupid money (which we kinda do).

So, the situation is a little confusing. Part of me wants the Sabres to just go nuts and get the best available guy, and another part of me is all, “Hold up. That’s the dumbest idea in the world.” Settling for the best available guy is how people (and teams) wind up in horrible, loveless marriages. We shouldn’t get married just for the sake of getting married. Is Brad Richards really the guy for us?  I dunno.

4. I appears that Steve Montador will be hitting the open market on Friday and this makes me feel hurt, angry, and confused.

5. Hey, thanks for waiving your no-trade clause, Robyn Regehr! We hope you like it here. We’ll do our best not to be too annoying (no promises there). Call me if you or any of your children need viola lessons.

6. The Flyers are fucking crazy. As in, C-R-A-Z-Y.

7.  The Honey Badger, aka Tenacious G, aka Lil’ Gerbs, aka Nathan Gerbe signed a very cap friendly, 3-year deal $4.3 million deal today. Honey Badger, call me if you ever need viola lessons.

8. The Sabres bought the Amerks and had a big happy press conference about it today.  Terry Pegula and Ted Black continue be all sassy and loveable and seemingly perfect in every way. We learned the following things:

  • Amerks season tickets are going to cost, like, 12 cents, so everyone should run out and purchase them as fast as you can.
  • We will now be referring to the Amerks as “The University of Hockey,” which is straight-up adorkable. I would like to offer my services teaching viola lessons as an elective credit to the future Sabres. I assume that the U of H understands the value of viola playing to young hockey players.
  • When (when, not if) the Sabres win the Cup, Rochester gets a parade too. Or… our parade might go all the way to Rochester. Something like that. The details of the parade will be worked out later, and this is already skating a waaaaaay too close to “planning the parade” for my tastes, so, moving on…

9. Every year at Apple Hill there is a hotly contested ping-pong tournament, the winner of which is awarded the “Apple Hill Cup”. I can’t believe I’ve never blogged about this before, because look at the Cup. We write the names of the winners on it and everything.

It's basically exactly the same as the Stanley Cup except it hasn't been befouled by the Bruins.

 

The Willful Caboose Interviews Ted Black

When I realized that I couldn’t attend the Blogger Summit a LOT of whining commenced. And I mean a lot.

One of the people I whined to was Sabres PR guy extraordinaire, Kevin Snow. In an effort to salvage the situation for myself, I hatched a plan to interview Ted Black via email, and Kevin very kindly agreed to forward the questions to Ted on my behalf. (Kevin’s level of generosity will become even more apparent after you hear the questions I asked.)

Ted Black, very graciously answered all of my questions, some in great detail. At this point, if you’re a Sabres fan and you’re not a little bit in love with Ted Black, you should go to a doctor, because you might be a dead inside. Ted Black is the bomb-diggety. Taking the time to answer these questions was WAY above and beyond the call of duty, and it made me feel a lot less pitiful about missing the summit. I actually learned a lot by asking these questions. Having a little bit of access was super fun, and it’s also helped me redefine what “Sabres blogging” means to me.

Now, just to be CRYSTAL CLEAR: I’ve made up a LOT of ridiculous things over the years on this blog. This interview is NOT like the time I wrote a conversation between me and Goose where he came over to my house and asked for a viola lesson using only HONKS to communicate. I made that up. This, is not made up.

So, without further ado, I present the Ted Black interview. The questions are in bold, and I wrote a few things in red in response to his answers.

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QUESTION: Out of curiosity, do you read any blogs, or is “blog” just a silly word that makes you think of nerds?

Ted Black: I do read blogs, including yours, and message boards from time-to-time so that I can keep up-to-date with any criticisms, complaints and other suggestions for making the Sabres a better organization.  The “Blogger Summit” was something that I wanted to do to actively engage this community that is an important part of the Sabres’ Nation.

Katebits: Ted, on behalf of all Sabres bloggers, I want to thank you from the very bottom of my heart for reaching out to the blogosphere. The summit seems to have really inspired everyone. I mean that very sincerely. Also, just to be clear, Bloggers are nerds, but we are more fun to hang out with than reporters, and way easier to bribe.

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QUESTION: Which would you prefer, the power of flight or the power of invisibility? Why?

Ted Black: Hmmm.  Superpowers.  Although the Sabres are striving to be a more “transparent” organization, I would have to say I would prefer the power of flight over invisibility.

Katebits: Flying is way cooler than skulking around being all sneaky and invisible. Good answer.

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QUESTION: You added a suggestion box to the website and have been famously reading each individual suggestion.  As a fan I absolutely LOVE this feature. I assume you have also asked the players for their feedback and suggestions.  Can you share any of their requests/suggestions/petty complaints with us? Have you heard anything surprising from them? Do the players have a suggestion box?

President Ted Black: The suggestion box was a fantastic way for us to really drill deep into the Sabres fan base.  We received over 30,000 suggestions and I am not sure I will be able to finish reading them all.  It is remarkable that fans gave us so much of their thought and time, so we feel a special obligation to not only read them, but whenever possible to execute ideas/suggestions from our fans.  We have also engaged our players, staff and employees for their ideas and suggestions.  Kim Pegula has met with the players’ wives to get some ideas from them with regard to the family room and for other ways to include the players’ families.  With regard to the players, sometimes it is hard to get them to really open up with suggestions.  I think it is part of the hockey culture to quietly do one’s job and not appear to be a complainer.  We did review the locker room plans with several of the players, including Jason, Nathan and Ryan to get their feedback.  Overall they seem to be extremely excited about the “Pegula Way” and the new culture that Terry and Kim have brought to the franchise.

Katebits: I’m actually a little surprised to hear that the players are hesitant to offer their suggestions, but your explanation makes sense. I guess this would be a way that invisibility would come in handy for you.

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QUESTION: Toronto Maple Leafs: Gross team, or grossest team?

President Ted Black: Let me answer this way: there are fewer teams that are more fun to beat and more disappointing to lose to than the Leafs.  I was told that a couple years ago, a Sabres executive was driving out of the Leafs’ garage when a security guard chased him down yelling, “Sir!  Sir, you forgot something.”  When the executive stopped and asked what, the guard said, “two points.” These stories and the passion of the fans are what makes Sabres vs. Leafs one of the best rivalries in the NHL.

Katebits: Man… Leafs fans. I’m so glad we nearly always kick their butts.

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QUESTION: You seem like a detail oriented person. From the outside it appears that there is no Sabres-related issue that is too large or too small to attract your personal interest. Now that you’ve been wading around in the organization for a few months, is there anything you’ve discovered along the way that shocked you? Thrilled you? Can you give us an example of something that you were shocked to discover wasn’t working well, and an example of something that surprised you with its efficiency.

President Ted Black: Last week marked the first 100 days since Terry bought the team. I don’t know if I would classify any of these as “shocking” but the following did surprise and/or thrill me:

(a) The Sabres’ rarely held functions that involved the employees/players families. The Pegula’s are extremely family-oriented and they quickly changed this in the first week of ownership by hosting a party for players, employees and spouses.
(b) The now-infamous cold water in the women’s bathrooms.  This was a relatively easy fix and I was surprised it had not been raised previously. (KB: Dude. I almost cried the first time I washed my hands with warm water after you guys took over.)
(c) I was blown away by the Alumni Reunion and red carpet event on Fan Appreciation Night.  It was one of the most memorable regular season events I have ever attended. (KB: Agreed)
(d) I was surprised by how intelligent and insightful that Ryan Miller is. (KB: Crunchy is the best.)
(e) Terry and I completely underestimated the reception that we have received every day since February 22, 2010.  It is both humbling and inspiring.  It drives us to want to win the Cup for the Sabres Nation, which circles the globe. (KB: Yaaaay!)

An area that might not have been working well on the administrative side was communication. We have 100s of full and part-time employees spread out over a large building.  Communication is something that every organization of this size needs to improve upon, but something that is nearly impossible to perfect.

An area that thrilled me was the video player analysis system (note that I did not say “video scouting”).  The system that Darcy and the coaches have to learn from and instruct players is remarkable.  (KB: Phew! Short Circuit‘s job is safe! I’ve always been puzzled by the angst over the “not-video-scouting”. I mean, Darcy and Short Circuit make a pretty good team. The drafting seems fine.

I was also thrilled by how good our day-to-day employees are and how much they care. (KB: Especially Kevin Snow, amiright? That guy should get a raise, ASAP.)

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QUESTION: The photos of you and Darcy swinging sledgehammers were pretty awesome. I thought you looked a lot like Clark Kent that day. Are you purposefully trying to evoke Superman?

President Ted Black: I swing a golf club the same way I swing a sledge-hammer, so visions of Clark Kent or Superman are misplaced (and note that we did not make a hole until the second or third strike).

Katebits: You know, that is exactly what Clark Kent would say if I asked him this question…

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QUESTION: I’m kind of intrigued by Darcy Regier and I have a series of questions about him, if you don’t mind:

a. Does Darcy swear? What’s the worst word you’ve ever heard Darcy say?

Darcy will swear, but not as much as me…  I will leave it to your imagination as to the 4-letter word(s) of choice. (KB: The only 4-letter words I can imagine Darcy saying are words like “drat” and “gosh”.)

b. Hypothetical situation: You and Darcy are out on the town, and you both see someone fall down. It’s a total wipe out. The person wasn’t injured at all, and they only fell down because they’re a klutz and they tripped over something. Also, the person who fell is kind of a jerk and no one really likes him. If there was no chance that he’d get caught doing it…. would Darcy laugh at the person who fell?

President Ted Black: Darcy would not laugh at someone’s misfortune.  My guess is that he would be the first to see if the person was ok. (KB: Darcy, he’s FINE. Geez! You should definitely laugh at him.)

…Okay, now let’s assume the person who fell was Zdeno Chara.  Would Darcy laugh more because it was Chara, or less?

President Ted Black: If Chara fell, Darcy (and I) would be even less likely to laugh because Z would probably know that the two of us can’t even put a dent in a wall using sledgehammers… (KB: I actually can’t argue with this logic.)

c. I like to imagine Darcy doing hilariously nerdy things like collecting stamps, and studying tax law for fun. I guess that really isn’t a question. …Do you happen to know if Darcy collects stamps?

I don’t know if Darcy is a philatelist; however, he is an avid photographer and has more than 20,000 photos that he has taken
over the years.  I would like to see if he is willing to share some of his favorites on our website. (KB: Ted, you just earned 10,000 “Foxy Nerd Points” for your use of the word “philatelist,” which I assume means “stamp collector.”) 

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QUESTION: Do you play an instrument? Did you play an instrument as a child? Do your kids play instruments? Do either of them play the viola, and/or do either of them need a viola teacher? (I’m trying to get more students.)

I have NO musical talent whatsoever.  Like learning a second language, I always wished that I could play an instrument.  My boys, Andrew (18) and Nathan (15), do not play an instrument.  However, if they did, I am sure it would be the viola..

Katebits: It’s never too late to institute an “all-viola-all-the-time” policy in your family AND in the Sabres organization. You probably CAN force everyone to take viola lessons. You’d all be happier for it, I promise.

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QUESTION: When I see Sabretooth at the arena he doesn’t talk, which leads me to assume that he is mute. BUT, he has a twitter account, so he’s clearly capable of communicating in English. Surely there must be some sort of device that could be used to help him communicate better with fans while at the games. Perhaps a special computer or a mascot-sized ipad? Hell, even a small chalkboard would get the job done. As his employer, don’t you feel some sort of obligation to provide Sabretooth with the tools he needs to express himself? Just because Sabretooth can’t speak, that doesn’t mean he doesn’t have important things to say, Ted.

President Ted Black: That’s weird.  Sabretooth talks to me all the time….

Katebits: What?! Did you send him to Mexico for the surgery to unhinge his lower jaw that I’ve been reading about in “Mascots Monthly”?  That’s terrific news!

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QUESTION: The biggest problem with the issue of bloggers in the press box is that every blogger writes from a unique perspective. I consider myself a fan blogger, meaning, the entire point of my blog is to share my experiences as a Sabres fan in an entertaining way. While I strive to write intelligently and fairly about the Sabres, “objectivity” is not something I care about at all. In fact, I believe that if people care what I think about the Sabres, it’s only because they can relate to my heart-bursting joy/soul-searing frustration. (I actually think objectivity is severely overrated when it comes to intelligent, well-reasoned sports analysis, but that’s probably a topic for another day…) For these reasons, I understand why I’m a bad candidate for a press pass. I’m not a journalist, nor to I strive to write like a journalist.

However, something I would love love love LOVE is a place in the arena where I can sit down and watch the game with my laptop open. A few years ago the Islanders experimented with something called “The Blog Box” which was a designated area for bloggers that included limited access to the team post-game. I thought it was a pretty cool idea. Can you imagine the Sabres ever creating a “tiered” access system, which included some in-game press privileges for bloggers?

Ted Black: In order to make the arena more blogger (and fan) friendly, we are looking at the cost/logistics to install wifi in HSBC over the summer.  This was another fan suggestion and I hope it will help.  As for a specific place to sit with a laptop open, we have the wonderful “problem” of being sold out every night, so it is difficult to find places in the bowl where we would kill seats to create more space. That said, I am open to engaging bloggers and would be interested in seeing what type of blogger access we can provide post-game.  Let’s see what ideas the Blogger Summit produces — oh, that’s right, you won’t be there…. ;-)

Katebits: First of all, that’s harsh, Ted. Second of all, oooh! I’m excited about the idea of open wifi in the arena. That is a GREAT idea.

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QUESTION: Do you have a Facebook account? Do you want to be friends?

Ted Black: I do not have a Facebook account, but I will probably do something with the team in the social media world next year.  If so, I would be honored to be your friend.

Katebits: Oh, Ted.  Ted, Ted, Ted.  You won’t last a year in this town with that kind of attitude. The correct answer here is: “Hell NO, I won’t be your friend. Get away, filthy peon!”

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QUESTION: Of all the Sabres, who has the prettiest wife?  (Juuuuust kidding. Do NOT answer that, Ted.)

President Ted Black: Of all the Buffalo Sabres, Ted Black has the prettiest wife.

Katebits: Aww!

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QUESTION: On my blog (The Willful Caboose) I’ve turned a lot of people involved with the organization into “characters”. My version of Ryan Miller is comically cranky, Paul Gaustad is heroic and good (he’s also a goose and only speaks in HONKS), I call Jason Pominville “Pommerdoodle” because he looks like a labradoodle.   Most likely I’ll eventually turn you into a character of some sort. My instinct is to turn you into a wise-cracking heroic-type, but, obviously I don’t know you very well (or at all).  Do you have any villainous tendencies that I should know about? Perhaps a dark and mysterious past?

President Ted Black: I have read your blog and the “characters.”  The Pommerdoodle image is both disturbing and haunting.  I don’t have a dark past or villainous tendencies, but I look forward to seeing what you come up with.

Katebits: I’d brace myself for a lot more “Clark Kent” jokes if I were you…

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QUESTION: Correct or not, the perception of the fans was always that Larry Quinn was very involved with decisions regarding player personnel. Can you shed some light on your involvement involving these types of decisions? Obviously, Darcy is the GM, but are things like cap management and negotiating salaries entirely his responsibility now?

President Ted Black: Darcy and I have a very good relationship. My philosophy (as I said during the first press conference) is that the General Manager should manage; the Coach should coach; and the team president should make sure that all necessary resources are available and properly allocated to fulfill the owner’s vision and mission to bring the Stanley Cup to Buffalo.  I see Darcy every day in the office and Terry talks to Darcy just about every day via phone or when he is in Buffalo.  Cap management and negotiating salaries are primarily Darcy’s responsibility, but we do have a flat management structure such that I and others are always available to assist the hockey department and, where appropriate, offer opinions and ask questions.

Katebits: If I had your job, my policy would be that Darcy can do whatever he wants as long as he doesn’t call, email, or text me during “Glee”.

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QUESTION: Now that biting is legal in the NHL, do you know if Darcy has any plans to begin drafting poorly-behaved 6-year-olds? I think the Sabres need a biting specialist. In your opinion, are there any current Sabres who might be able to fill this role? (Tyler Ennis looks like he might have sharp little teeth to me, but I’d want to see him in action before relying on him in the biting role.)

Ted Black: I recall that “mini-Me” was a biter.  I am opposed to biting in the NHL.  I am also opposed to someone putting his bacteria-filled hands in another person’s mouth…

Katebits: Oooh. Your answer gives me an idea… Not only do we need a biter, but we should ALSO pay Patrick Kaleta to stop washing his hands.

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QUESTION: Are you getting recognized a lot around Buffalo? After he left Buffalo Chris Drury said that Buffalo fans used to “chirp” at him about the power play while he was in the grocery store. On a scale of 1-10, 1 being “no chirping whatsoever” and 10 being “a constant and deafening flock of chirpers,” how much chirping would you say you’ve been subjected to during your daily goings-on about town? (The suggestion box doesn’t count as chirping. You did that to yourself, Ted.)

Ted Black: I do get recognized from time to time, but not as much as Terry. I would say I am about a 4 on your scale and Terry is a 9.  If I don’t slick my hair and instead wear a ball cap, I am pretty anonymous looking anyway.  When I was coming to Buffalo prior to the sale, it was really interesting to have conversations with cab drivers and men/women on the street about how they felt about the Sabres (the number one observation back then was that “we have no identity.”)  A few weeks prior to February 23, I bought a $10 ticket on the street and sat in the 300s. Obviously, no one knew who I was but I got to listen in on a lot of opinions and commentary!

Katebits: You should get T-Pegs a BB gun. I bet that would cut back on the chirping in a hurry. And I have a suggestion for quietly and easily eavesdropping on Sabres fans. You should get a Twitter account and call yourself @DefinitelyNOTTedBlack (or something equally stealthy), and then follow a bunch of fans. You’d overhear a TON of helpful “suggestions” in no time.

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So, there you have it Dear Readers, the Ted Black Interview. I owe a GREAT deal of thanks to Kevin Snow for forwarding my questions to Ted.

And of course, a warm and heartfelt thanks to Ted Black. The man, the myth, the superhero in disguise.

Stanley Poop Finals

Apple Hill is in New Hampshire which is deep into Boston sports territory. Before I got here, and as the Stanley Cup Final wore on and ON (seriously, that series was insufferable), I began to get increasingly concerned about the chances of having to watch a game 7 in the company of Celtics/RedSox/Patriots fans who were posing as Bruins fans just because there was a championship on the line. As luck would have it, that is EXACTLY what happened. (THIS MEANS WAR, HOCKEY GODS. W! A! R!)

I wound up basically siding with the Bruins because it was the path of least resistance. I didn’t exactly cheer for them, I mostly just admitted that the Canucks were AT LEAST as revolting, only they don’t even have Tim Thomas being impossibly likable. (No matter how much you hate the Bruins, you have to have a heart of stone to hate Tim Tom.) Plus, I didn’t want to be that person rooting against the home team just for the sake of rooting against the home team. That person is a jerk, and exactly NO fun to be around.

Game 7 was a harrowing experience. Fortunately I had a rehearsal, so I only had to watch the third period, but still. It was rough.

I sort of enjoyed being able show off the Cup and all its traditions to my hockey-newbie friends (“Look! There’s the Cup! See the guy carrying the Cup? Taking care of the Cup is that guy’s full time job.” Then a little bit later… “Now everyone in the arena is going to boo the ever-loving crap out of Bettman. Why? Because that’s what you do.” And later still… “Chara will get the Cup first. The owner doesn’t get the Cup until every single player has hoisted it”), but I was also prone to sudden outbursts like, “I CAN’T BELIEVE YOU UNDESERVING BOSTON FANS JUST WON THE CUP! THERE IS NO JUSTICE IN THIS TERRIBLE WORLD. I HATE EVERYTHING.”

My friends were very tolerant of my anti-Bruins tirades because I really tried hard to be comically outraged (as opposed to just outraged-outraged), and because they took pity on me. I mean let’s face it, what’s more pitiful than a diehard Buffalonian being subjected to the half-hearted celebrations of a Bruins Stanley Cup win? Not much.

What I’m trying to tell you is that I’m incredibly relieved hockey has finally gone away for the season, because those playoffs were wicked lame.

Thoughts on the Summit

It was with great jealousy/curiosity/trepidation/glee that I sat down in front of the Sabres’ Blogger Summit live video feed yesterday afternoon. I am, of course, still terrorizing the woods of New Hampshire with music, so, I was pretty far away from the proceedings, distance-wise. But here’s the cool thing about the blogosphere: even in New Hampshire, surrounded by teenaged string players and unkempt-nature, as soon as that video feed clicked on, I was riveted. I’m pretty sure I could move to the moon and still be fascinated by the Sabres and the Sabres blogosphere.

Here are some relatively unorganized thoughts on the event from my perspective. I’d write something less bullet-point-y, but music camp does not allow much time for blogging, and also, I’m lazy.

  • I want to start these bullet-points by congratulating the Sabres and the participating bloggers for a great event. This was an awesome event for the blogosphere, and I hope it was a success by everyone’s standards. What I’ve heard about the event via twitter, personal texts, and emails has been overwhelmingly positive. (Except for Heather B, who very charmingly emailed me last night to say that the event was terrible without me, no one had ANY fun, and that Ted Black is super mean. Nice try, Heather. I’m not buying it AT ALL, but I do appreciate the effort to make me feel better about missing the summit.) On a personal note, I want to thank the Sabres for reaching out to bloggers. THANK YOU, SABRES!
  • I thought the bloggers were awesome! Everyone looked so scrubbed-up and adorable on camera. I’ve met a lot of the bloggers in town, but it was fun to put a faces to a few names. And seriously, not a SINGLE person there looked even remotely socially disturbed, or excessively pasty due to lack of sun. Good work, guys! (Now back to mom’s basement with you. Scram!)
  • Ted Black is a freaking star. I certainly can’t speak for any other bloggers, but for me, the primary reason I was mega-interested in attending this event was that fact that it was an opportunity to rub elbows with Ted Black. Last week, when I was thinking about the event and what I would’ve asked had I been able to attend, I actually had a difficult time thinking of good questions, but man, I REALLY wanted to hang out drinking beer and eating pizza with Ted Black. I feel like maybe a more serious-minded blogger wouldn’t admit to such a frivolous appreciation for Ted Black, but whatevs. If there is one thing I’m not, it’s “serious about the Buffalo Sabres”. Which brings me to my next bullet point…
  • I think the event (at least the online streaming portion) suffered a little bit because of the “Press Conference Lite” format. I want to be clear, this isn’t a really criticism. It’s mostly just an observation. I suspect that if you asked a hundred bloggers how they’d want a Q&A with Ted Black to be formatted, about 80 of them would describe exactly what the Sabres did, and the other 20 would all have wildly different ideas. (My ideal Q&A with Ted Black would be on my porch, drinking beer. Also, Goose would come along. And we would mostly talk about how much we hate the Flyers and the Bruins. And then, maybe we’d play Rock Band. But that’s just me.) There is certainly no “right” way to do something like this. My problem with the format is that it assumed that bloggers want to behave like journalists. There are LOTS of bloggers who do want to behave like journalists, but there are also lots of bloggers, like me, who are more causal in their approach. As the Sabres continue to reach out to bloggers (please continue to reach out to bloggers, Sabres!), I hope that there is some effort to experiment with the format and tone of the events. But again, I’m NOT COMPLAINING. I’m just sayin’.
  • Just as a counterpoint to my last point- from what I’ve gathered about the non-streaming portion of the evening, that’s when most of the fun stuff occurred. So, had I been able to attend, I probably could’ve asked Ted to wear half of my BFF locket after the cameras were turned off. And then, after he gracefully and politely declined, I could’ve asked Kevin Sylvester if HE wanted to wear it instead. (Kylvester would’ve said “yes”. Of course.) So, while the streaming portion was a little stuffy for my personal tastes, it sounds like the Sabres actually did set aside a chunk of time for less-formal questions.
  • My close friends at Apple Hill know how disappointed I was about not being able to attend the summit. As such, my friend Elise suggested that the Sabres were probably just gathering the bloggers in order to either brainwash them or trap them in a dank dungeon, and that I should be GLAD I couldn’t go. I’ll admit, I was a little disappointed that Ted didn’t start the Blog Summit by pressing a button which opened a trap door in the floor which sent all the bloggers down a Goonies-style water slide and into a pit of rattlesnakes (or lions, I suppose).
  • All in all, I give the Summit an A+ for “being overall awesome and generous towards their most loyal fans”, and a A- for “execution”. (Sadly, I have to give the event a F- for “Calling me and asking me when would be a convenient time to hold the event.”) But if there is one thing I want to make CRYSTAL CLEAR it’s that I am THRILLED that the Sabres held this event and that I think they did a great job.
  • What a wonderful time to be a Sabres fan!

And, here’s a SUPER FUN Willful Caboose programming alert: My disappoint at not being able to attend the Blog Summit was SO acute, and my whining was SO pronounced, that the-powers-that-be at the Sabres took pity on me. I was able to send some questions to Ted Black via email, and he VERY graciously answered them all.

SO, look for Ted Black Interview in the next few days! Hooray!

The Sabres Summit: An Exercise in Blinding Frustration and Blog-Altering Enthusiasm

As many of you have probably heard, the Sabres are up to some feisty new tricks. The Sabres have invited bloggers (filthy, unruly, living-in-mom’s-basement, BLOGGERS) to HSBC arena tomorrow evening to the, “first ever Blogger Summit.” I KNOW. They’ve invited bloggers INTO THE BELLY OF THE BEAST. Back when Golisano owned the team I think it would’ve been 100% reasonable to assume that the Sabres organization didn’t even use computers (typewriters and carrier pigeons work JUST FINE, thank you very much), and now, mere months later, they’re all, “Hey bloggers! We should be friends! Do you want to come over for dinner and hang out with our highest ranking (and most intriguing) employee?”

For those of us who have been toiling away, blogging for years, this event is a big, fat, hairy deal.

Sadly (INCREDIBLY SADLY, AND WITH AN EPIC AMOUNT OF WHINING), I cannot attend the Blogger Summit. You see, I am in New Hampshire, at Apple Hill, a.k.a Bat Shack Camp. Every summer I come to New Hampshire to perform and coach at the Apple Hill Center for Chamber Music. Usually, as far as this blog goes, Apple Hill is veiled in secrecy because I don’t like to announce to the interwebs that I am out of town. But this year I very cleverly got my friend Dinesh and his dog Nigel to housesit. (At some point last year I acquired so many plants that I now require a housesitter in order to feel comfortable leaving for more than a few days. I know. Redonk.) I feel quite sure that my house will remain safe and snug-as-a-bug under their watchful eye.

Don't try to steal my plants, burglers. This guy will tear your throat out.

I make a lot of jokes about the extreme nature-y situation of Apple Hill (I’ll be frank, Apple Hill is one small step away from camping, and camping is one small step away from hell), but this is truly one of my most treasured annual personal and musical experiences. The truth is that I love it here. Without fail, every single year I come away from Apple Hill inspired to be a braver, more emotionally generous person. I genuinely cherish this time.

But.

But….

BUT!

BUT THIS YEAR THE SABRES INVITED ME OVER TO HANG OUT WITH TED BLACK, AND I CANNOT STOP THROWING TANTRUMS AND STOMPING MY FEET ABOUT THE UNFAIRNESS OF IT ALL. WHY ARE ALL THE COOLEST THINGS HAPPENING AT THE SAME TIME? A TYPICAL YEAR IS FULL OF TOTALLY BORING STRETCHES WHERE NOTHING INTERESTING HAPPENS AT ALL. YOU’RE TELLING ME THAT APPLE HILL AND A SABRES SUMMIT HAVE TO OCCUR DURING THE SAME WEEK? SCREW YOU, UNIVERSE! NOTHING THIS HORRIBLE HAS EVER HAPPENED TO ANYONE IN THE HISTORY OF TIME AND SPACE. I AM THE MOST PATHETICALLY UNHAPPY GIRL IN THE WORLD.

:(

Just kidding. (Mostly)

Skipping Apple Hill was out of the question on a personal level (not to mention the contract I signed, making me legally obligated to participate), so, I had to decline the Sabres’ invitation. I know. Sad.

But.

The whole thing really got me thinking. I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about the Blogger Summit, and what I’d ask Ted Black if I could attend. I’ve really thought about this blog, and why I write it, and all the ways it’s enriched my life. And I’m not going to lie, the Summit has renewed my sense of blogging urgency. It turns out that the mere idea of, “Holy crap, the Sabres are paying attention to bloggers now,” is a powerful motivator. Thanks to this summit, I feel a new burst of energy for blogging, and I’m sure every Sabres blogger in town feels the same way. I’m really happy and excited for the future of the Sabres blogosphere.

While I’m so so (SO! SOOOOO SOSOSOSO! ) sorry I can’t be there, I absolutely know the blogosphere will be well represented by some wonderful people. I hope the event is a smashing success and fun for all involved.

[Private to those attending: The first blogger who casually refers to Ryan Miller as "Crunchy" during the summit will receive my eternal respect AND a crisp $100 bill from me as a reward.]

Have fun, Sabres bloggers! (And please, talk me up to Ted if you get the chance.)

Lots More Brains

Hold onto your brains, Sabres fans, because we’ve got four more years of Drew Stafford roaming the dark streets of Buffalo ahead of us. We must be vigilant, or he will (of course) eat our brains.  (Don’t hate Staffy for trying to eat your brains. It’s just his way. He’s only doing what comes naturally.)

TWC has obtained the transcript of Stafford’s negotiations with Darcy Regier:

Darcy Regier: We need to negotiate your contract, Staffy.

Staffy: Moooooore braaaains

Darcy Regier: Yes, yes, I know. You like brains.

Staffy: Moooooore braaaaains.

Darcy:  Try to focus, Drew. How much money do you want to play hockey?

Staffy: Mooooore braaaains.

Darcy: Drew… do you like being a Sabre?

Staffy: BRAINS!

Darcy: *sigh*

Staffy: BRAAAAAAAAAINS

Darcy: Seriously, dude. Stop talking about brains for ONE SECOND.

Staffy:

Darcy: Thank you. Now. Here’s my offer.

(Darcy slides a piece of paper across the desk to Staffy. Staffy picks it up, reads it, then sneers.)

Staffy: (roaring) MOOOOOOORE BRAAAAAAAINS!

Darcy: Now hold on just a second Staffy. That’s a good offer.

Staffy: MOOOOOOOOOOOOORE BRAAAAAAAAAAAAINS

Darcy: Well… how many brains do you think you deserve?

Staffy: Four million braaaaains per year for four yeeeeearrs. 16 million braaaaaaaaains total.

Darcy: Fine. Whatever. Just promise me that after you sign this contract you’re not going to start talking about how you wish you were a rockstar instead of a hockey player again.

Staffy: (cocks head) Red Seal Peach?

Darcy: No. No more band. Just hockey.

Staffy: (nods)

Darcy: Okay. We’ve got a deal.  Now get out of here you furry bastard.

________

I honestly don’t know what to make of this new Drew Stafford contract.

If the Sabres get 3o goals a year out of him for the next four years, this contract will be a steal. (And just think! Four more years of the “morrrrrre braaaaains” joke!) On the other hand, Staffy has always been really inconsistent and injury prone and blah blah blah  … you know what? Let’s not think too much about the other hand.

Hopefully this all works out, and from now on we get focused, awesome, hattricky Drew Stafford and moody, frequently-injured, I-just-want-to-rock Drew Stafford is in hibernation until his retirement from hockey.

_________

Having nothing to do with anything: For some reason when you google “Drew Stafford furries” this picture of Ryan Miller comes up in the image results.

Bieberfever

I have no recollection of Crunchy having that haircut. Yikes.


…A Blog About the Buffalo Sabres

Observations 2
I can be reached at: willfulcaboose [at] gmail [dot] com

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In accordance with the Fair Use Copyright Law, The Willful Caboose uses logos and registered trademarks of the National Hockey League to convey my criticism and inform the public of the Sabres' suckitude/badassitude (whatever the case may be). Photos on The Willful Caboose are used without permission, but do not interfere with said owner's profit. If you own a specific image on this site and want it removed, please e-mail me (willfulcaboose [at] gmail [dot] com) and I will be more than happy willing to oblige. (Special thanks to The Pensblog for their help with this disclaimer.)

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