Congratulations to Gabby, the winner of the Leafs @ Sabres tickets for Saturday night! Gabby, please email me so that I can arrange to get the tickets to you this week. Yay!
Congratulations to Gabby, the winner of the Leafs @ Sabres tickets for Saturday night! Gabby, please email me so that I can arrange to get the tickets to you this week. Yay!
Sometimes life is weird, you know?
Man. I don’t even know where to begin this story.
No wait, yes I do: From the very bottom of my heart, I’d like to thank Sabres.com for inviting me to join Christian Ehrhoff and Thomas Vanek as they delivered tickets to season ticket holders today. I feel so fortunate to have been plucked from the thousands and thousands of wonderful, loyal, enthusiastic, and deserving Sabres fans to have this experience. The Sabres have recently been making some truly awesome moves to include non-traditional media in their events, and they seriously knocked this one out of the park. Thank you, Sabres!
On Friday last week the Sabres emailed me to ask if I wanted to “tag along” when the Sabres delivered tickets to a few lucky season ticket holders. The email conversation pretty much went like this:
Sabres: Do you want to tag along when we do this thing?
Katebits: I want to do that more than I’ve ever wanted anything in my entire life.
In the initial email we really didn’t get a lot of information about the event, so I spent the entire weekend speculating with Heather (who was also invited) about what exactly we’d be doing. Heather’s favorite scenario was that Lindy would drive us around in a gigantic van full of Sabres all day. My favorite scenario was that somehow I’d end up in a car with Goose, Pominville, and Miller, and at some point we’d turn up the radio and have a loud singalong, preferably to the song “Rolling In the Deep.”
Yesterday, things came into a little bit more focus when I was told I’d be riding in a limo with Tyler Myers and Ville Leino. I know. A limo! With Tyler Myers and Ville Leino!
“I bet those guys know ‘Rolling in the Deep’ too,” I thought. “THIS IS GOING TO BE THE MOST FUN EVER!”
I’m not going to lie, I was quite nervous about almost everything as I headed down to the arena. A variety of panicky thoughts raced through my head: What if I embarrass myself? What if the Sabres hate me? What if Tyler Myers wants to open the sunroof of the limo so he can stick his head out like a giraffe, and this makes me laugh so hard that I have a coughing fit? What if Ted Black turns out to be only 99% awesome instead of 100% awesome? What if Ville Leino arches his eyebrow at me and I temporarily lose the power of speech? What if I somehow offend everyone and ensure that no bloggers are ever taken seriously by the Sabres ever ever ever ever ever ever again? OMFG, WHAT IF I LOOK STUPID IN THIS OUTFIT?!
Well, it turns out that driving around Buffalo in a limousine with Sabres is much like everything else in life. You almost never worry about the right things.
After hooking up with our fabulous and helpful Sabres liaison (and being told that Myers would not be available and that he had been replaced by Gerbe), Heather and I were ushered outside where there were lots of cameras and limos. I’d relaxed a little bit by this point, mostly because there are only so many times you can fret about your outfit before it gets boring. And besides, things were getting pretty interesting.
That’s when the players came out. Now, not to sound like a total goober here, but seeing a big crowd of Sabres in street clothes is really something. Honestly, my first instinct was just to stare at them. I don’t mean this in some sort of creeper way, I just mean… the Sabres are interesting in real life. I wanted to memorize what they were all wearing, and who was taller/shorter/skinnier or goofier in person than expected. But I didn’t have long to stare at them because almost immediately they popped into limos and everything got kind of confusing and suddenly I was all, “Hey, which limo do I go in?! I thought you said I was riding with Gerbe and Leino… I’m riding with Vanek and Ehrhoff? Whaaaaat?”
So, after I spent a day meticulously plotting to charm Myers and Leino into telling me all their funniest secrets, suddenly, I was going to be riding with Vanek and Ehrhoff.
For reasons that were explained to me but that I didn’t try hard enough to understand, Vanek and Ehrhoff met us in a parking lot out near Transit Road instead of driving out there in the limo. This was fine by me because it gave me a chance to bond with Carl (the limo driver [Hi, Carl!]) and also to ask John Sinclair (VP of Tickets & Services) some of my burning questions about the event.
SPOILER ALERT: My “burning questions” about the event were mostly related to my concerns that one of the people’s houses would be messy when Terry Pegula suddenly popped by.
Here’s a picture I took from the limo before Vanek and Ehrhoff got in. Vanek is being interviewed by Lorey Schultz from channel 4. Lorey and her camera guy followed our car to every stop, and Lorey was super duper nice.
Here’s the thing about meeting Sabres in up close, personal situations. There was one part of my brain that was all, “OMG, this is the weirdest thing that has EVER happened, EVER. Thomas Vanek is sitting RIGHT THERE, two feet away from me. Seriously, this is CAH-RAAAAZY.” And then there was another part of me that was just like, “Oh, hi Thomas Vanek!” Although I’d obviously never met him before, Thomas Vanek felt like a basically familiar person. That was very interesting to me. Christian Ehrhoff was an actual stranger (in that I haven’t been watching him play hockey for many years), so meeting him was really just like meeting anyone. Well, not quite like meeting anyone. It was like meeting someone that you know you’re going to start a ten year hockey relationship with next week.
I introduced myself to them as “your blogger for the afternoon,” which didn’t seem to faze either of them in the slightest, and we were off!
From the very beginning I was impressed with Thomas Vanek’s relaxed and open demeanor. My mental image of him is so tortured, but seriously, he was downright breezy in the limo. We chatted about Minnesota (I’m from Minneapolis), and the differences between Buffalo winter and Minnesota winter (When I confessed I’ve always wondered if those sun lamps work, because I hate the constant gray of Buffalo winters, he suggested that we put a huge bubble over Buffalo with a giant sun lamp inside), and how it’s hard to feed twins (he actually held up his arms and pretended to shovel food into two babies mouths simultaneously).
Christian Ehrhoff was a little more reserved, but then again, I didn’t “know” him ahead of time, so maybe I just didn’t ask the magical questions that could’ve prompted him to mime feeding his babies. Perhaps in three years on Ticket Delivery Day I’ll know juuuuust enough about him to carry my end of a totally breezy conversation with Christian Ehrhoff. (I did find out that he played the piano for a handful of years as a kid and that he’s got a piano in his house now. That was intriguing.) I can report that Ehrhoff seems super sweet, and a little shy, and he’s cute as a bug’s ear. Really. I wanted to pinch his dimpled cheeks.
The thing I determined right away in the limo was that I had NO desire to try to pepper these guys with a lot of questions for the blog. I write like a fan, and I wanted to experience the day like a fan. Plus, it was quickly apparent that while they would of course dutifully answer any questions I had, they probably weren’t super eager to give me lots of hilarious footage of themselves being goofy and effing around. These guys were mega, MEGA good-natured, kind, and agreeable, but, they were also at work. This realization was sort of awesome, because I relieved myself of my “media” duties, and I decided to just go with the flow. I took one posed pictured of them in the limo, and then I put away the phone.
I can highly recommend driving around in a car with Sabres. All sorts of hilarious and interesting things happen:
- At one point I asked the guys if they’d ever played together before, and John Sinclair immediately said, “The better question is have they ever played against each other?” This led to them reminiscing about a game they’d played versus each other in the AHL where the Amerks definitively beat Ehrhoff’s team. (I want to say they mentioned it was in Cleveland. Does that make sense with Ehrhoff’s history?) It was really interesting to me how they both seemed to remember the game very specifically, right away. Ehrhoff laughed and said, “I think I was a minus 5 that game.” Heh.
- They were both kind of grumpy about having to wear their jerseys, which makes sense when you think about it, but surprised me to realize. When I commented on this, Vanek said, “Yeah, but I’m REALLY glad to be back to this,” and then he grabbed the circle emblem on his jersey with both hands and lifted it up off his chest. “I did not like the slug.” Then he said something about how he always really liked the original Sabres logo as a kid. This, of course, warmed the cockles of my heart. Then Ehrhoff said, “The third jerseys are nice too.” Vanek seemed to agree that those jerseys were sharp, but he didn’t have a strong opinion about the quilting on the numbers, which I confessed I don’t like. Hearing players discuss jerseys the same way fans do was a hoot.
- All three of our stops were corporate sponsors instead of individual houses. It was SUPER fun to see people react (some of the receptionists’ confusion was kind of priceless, actually), but it didn’t quite pack the emotional wallop that I imagine you’d get out of delivering tickets to a longtime season ticket holder’s house. When I commented on this to the guys in the limo I said, “I think we should find some little kids for you guys to interact with!” And Vanek joked, “Why? Is this not blog worthy?” I thought it was super funny that he had “blog worthy” on the tip of his tongue. I assured him that, “Oh no. Don’t you worry. This is definitely blog worthy.”
- The deliveries ranged from “totally great” to “A FREAKING HOOT”. We stopped at three offices. Ingram Micro, Great Batch, and LoVullo. All three stops were very fun, and it really was interesting to watch people light up when they saw the Sabres. On a personal note, it was also funny to realize that I probably looked like I was a part of their normal entourage. I found myself in various office lobbies wanting to yell, “I don’t belong in the limo with these guys! I’m not one of them! This is a TOTALLY weird day for me! I’m just like you people! CAN YOU BELIEVE I’M DRIVING AROUND WITH SABRES ALL DAY?!” But I didn’t.
- One of the highlights of the day from the “HAHAHAHAHAHA! Category” was Vanek bitching about a $1500 phone bill he got after a Canadian roadtrip even though he TRIED to get the Canadian data plan. I’m not sure why it amused me so much to hear a highly paid athlete grumbling about a bill (and it’s not like $1500 is small potatoes, even when you’re rich), but it did. When he was telling the story of the fiasco, he turned to me and said, “I bought a Canadian data plan ahead of time that included [some number of data bytes which I don't remember because both the number and the unit of measurement are meaningless to me], but I don’t even know what that number means… do you know what that means?” I was all, “Hell if I know what that means, Thomas Vanek.” So he continued, “And so, when I went in to complain about the bill, the guy in the store told me that my data plan was big enough to cover me visiting, like, five websites. I’d only bought enough for ten minutes on the internet.” And this is when I started to inwardly laugh and laugh and laugh. It tickles me to no end that this bothers him enough to tell this story months later. Also, for the record, Thomas Vanek does not take kindly to airline baggage fees.
- I found it very difficult to address them by their first names, but calling them by their last names seemed weird too. I eventually coaxed a few “Thomas”es and “Christian”s out of myself, but it was hard. I have no idea why calling someone by their first name would feel so awkward, but it did.
- At the last stop, LoVullo, the bosses there had clearly given the employees the green light to come on down and pose for pictures. The Sabres were extremely good-natured about this, so much so that LoVullo is where I fell in love with them just a tiny bit. They probably took pictures with at least a hundred people, posing in groups of 5 or 6. The reason it was so charming is that they shook hands and introduced themselves to every single person. This is the one part of the day that I REALLY wish I’d thought to record on video, because for about fifteen minutes you just heard, “Hi, I’m Christian” “Hi, I’m Thomas.” “Hi, I’m Christian.” “Hi, I’m Thomas.” “Hi, I’m Christian.” “Hi, I’m Thomas.” “Hi, I’m Christian.” Over and over and over again. It was incredibly endearing. There’s just something very sweet and unassuming about introducing yourself to people who are lining up to get your picture. This was truly the highlight of the day for me.
-After the last stop, they both IMMEDIATELY removed their jerseys, and then they BOTH folded them up into tidy rectangles. I’m not sure what was going on with that (maybe some sort of tidiness-peer-pressure?), but it was cute.
I’m sure I’ll keep remembering little things from the day, and when I do, I’ll post about them here. Maybe we should just consider this, “Sabres Ticket Delivery Day: Part One.”
For now, I’ll just end this post by saying, again, thanks SO MUCH to Sabres.com for having me today. This was really, truly a wonderful experience. Another thanks to Carl the limo driver for his masterful limo-driving-skillz, and John Sinclair, who was a super fun guide for the afternoon. And of course, a million thanks to Thomas Vanek and Christian Ehrhoff who were both incredibly generous, kind, and engaging with me today. We are lucky to have them both in Buffalo.
WOOOOOOOOOO! Look what I picked up today! The season tickets are gigantic this year, and they’re not bound in a book. The tickets come in a tidy stack, all tied up with a Sabres sash. I like these tickets better than last years tickets because they feature a prominent picture instead of being 95% covered in gobbledygook (“gobbledygook” being, “words”).
Speaking of tickets…
This year, as part as the season ticket package, season ticket holders had to buy both preseason games. If I remember correctly, in past seasons the Sabres gave us one game for free, and we had the option to buy the other game.
I usually enjoy the preseason games, mostly because it’s my first chance to head down to the arena, watch some hockey, and drink a big beer. It’s a nice way to ring in the new season, but it’s not exactly great hockey. I’m really looking forward to attending one preseason game, but two in one week feels like overkill. I’m guessing a lot of season ticket holders feel the same way, which is why I anticipate a lot of preseason tickets going to waste this year.
I hope every season ticket holder takes the time to make sure their tickets find a good home. You know who probably doesn’t care at all about the differences between preseason hockey and regular season hockey? Little kids.
So, consider this an official call to action. Season ticket holders, if you’re not going to use your preseason tickets GIVE THEM AWAY! Find someone who will use them. It’s really not that hard. In my experience, if you say to someone, “Hey, do you want these free Sabres tickets?” they will usually say, “Why yes. Yes, I do.” If you can’t find anyone to take your tickets, you can donate them through the Sabres website, OR, you can give them to me, and I will give them to a lucky reader.
The Preseason Ticket giveaway, and how it shall work.
I have two tickets to the Sabres vs. Leafs game on Saturday, Sept 24th that I don’t plan to use. If I scrounge up any extra tickets from other STHs, I’ll also give those away.
Here’s how you enter the contest:
Leave a comment on this post that says, “Please enter me to win the tickets.”
In a week or so, I’ll draw a name out of a hat, and someone will win the tickets.
FINE PRINT: If you want to make me happy (but not increase your chances of winning in the slightest), please feel free to also tell me how pretty and/or charming I am in the comment of this post. Money and gifts will also be accepted, but (regrettably) will not increase your chances of winning the tickets. Failure to find me pretty and/or charming will be highly frowned upon, but will carry no penalties regarding this contest. If you are a Leafs fan, you are eligible to win the tickets, but only if you wear a Sabres jersey, cheer for the Sabres, and conceal your disgusting Leaf-y tendencies in every single way. Failure to comply with the rules contained in this fine print is punishable by death. That’s right. Death.
1. HOOOOOORAAAAAAY for gay marriages in New York State! A joyful, joyful, joyful day.
My mother’s twin sister is gay, and I grew up one block from away from my aunt and her partner Mary. I’ve been very close to both of them my entire life. I couldn’t love them more. They helped raise me.
Having been raised in part by a lesbian couple, I simply do not understand resistance to gay marriage.
The story I always tell about my experience growing up with a gay couple is this: When I was about twelve I overheard my then 9-year-old sister ask my mother, “Mom, are Kathy and Mary lesbians?” To which my mother replied, “Yes”. As difficult as this may be for some to believe, that overheard conversation between my mother and my sister was the first time I ever, even for one second, considered the nature of my aunt’s relationship. I had literally never thought about it before. In the first twelve years of my life I hadn’t noticed that they were different from heterosexual couples. Of course I was aware that they were two women, but their relationship was such an (beautifully) ordinary part of my childhood that it never once occurred to me to question it. After I heard my sister say the word “lesbian” I thought, “Oh, hey. Yeah. They are lesbians.” And that was the extent of it.
The legalization of gay marriage is important, it’s right, and it’s unstoppable. Someday soon legal gay marriage will be the law of the entire land, and history will view those who opposed it as bigots.
2. “Dry Island” is the kind of coaching power move that can seriously bite you in the ass. I’m going to go ahead and call “Dry Island” a massive failure for Peter Laviolette. Theoretically, professional athletes absolutely should be able to commit to a month of not drinking, but, well, obviously Dry Island didn’t work. It contributed to a big rift in the Flyers locker room, and now, years later, two of the best players on the Flyers have been traded, and players are ratting each other out to the press. That’s some great coaching! Stay crazy, Flyers!
3. Everyone, please take time to visit the ALL NEW Sabres blogroll page! And, as always, if you know of a blog that is not on the list, PLEASE let me know!
4. I’ve been playing around a lot with Spotify. I decided to give the full “Premium” subscription a try, and so far, I think it’s worth the money. Spotify has almost everything I want to listen to, including a decent amount of classical music. My biggest complaint is that the iphone app needs a LOT of improvement. It crashes every time I try to create a new playlist on my phone, and using Spotify chews up my phone’s battery power very quickly. But in terms of having a basically-limitless music library at my fingertips, I’m very impressed. It’s not quite hoverboards, but Spotify still feels pretty “the future is here”-y.
5. We’re almost to one of my very favorite times of the year. Starting next Monday I’ll have six weeks off from work (the BPO keeps a pretty similar schedule to teachers- lots of time off in the summer). What should I do with myself? Possible activities: start a gang, learn Spanish, landscape my entire backyard, sit around playing on the interwebs.
6. I’m trying to work out a way to sell some of my unused season tickets to Sabres fans instead of Leafs and Habs fans. (Now, before you leave a comment lecturing me about selling tickets to visiting fans, I ask that you kindly reconsider. Because… seriously, shut up.) There has to be a way to pull this off. Most of my unused games I sell to my friends at the price I paid ($54 a seat, this season), but I always sell a handful of games on Stub Hub.
I’d always prefer to sell tickets to Sabres fans than to visiting fans, so I think I’m going create a page on this blog that lists the games I have for sale and my asking price. I’m just going to try it for this season, if it doesn’t work, no biggie. (Now that I think about it, is this even legal? Am I going to get thrown in the slammer?)
I think we can all agree that this offseason was somehow longer, and more arduous than last summer. In an attempt to shield myself from the pain of the seemingly endless days of the offseason, I shelved “hockey” in some deep dark corner of my brain. I boxed “hockey” up, and shoved it deep down in there, and I tried not to think too much about it, because a) The Sabres suck ass and I hate them, and b) I miss them so so so so much when they’re gone.
In early August, hockey was just too painful and too confusing to dwell on for long.
I couldn’t go to Puck Drop because today I had an arduous and unavoidable, all-day task scheduled. It was a LAME day for your humble scribe, so hockey was quite far from my mind. I spent a minute or two in the morning inquiring via Twitter if Staffy was on the ice, but other than that, I figured my day would be 100% Sabre-free. But THEN, at about 3:15 when my arduous and unavoidable all-day task unexpectedly ended 45 minutes early, I found myself thinking…”I wonder if the box office at HSBC is still open?”
So, I hopped in the Civic Doody and booked it over to the arena.
HSBC was mostly cleared out, but there were still a few street hockey games going on and the season ticket table WAS still open, so it was with great great great glee that I picked these bad boys up:
They’re rocking a “Ye Olde Tyme Sabres” thing this year
I gotta tell you, those tickets put a mighty spring back into my step. The stress and annoyance of the arduous and unavoidable all-day task quickly became but a distant memory as it suddenly and joyfully dawned on me, OH MY GOD HOCKEY IS BACK. I HAVE TICKETS TO EVERY SINGLE GAME. IT’S BACK AND IT’S NOT GOING AWAY FOR SIX MONTHS. IT’S A BRAND NEW SEASON. HALLELUJAH! HOCKEY IS BAAAAACK! WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!
It was clear that they were trying to close the arena down but I would not be deterred. I HAD TO SEE MY SEATS. So, I went bounding up the stairs (the escalators were all going down), and tried to nonchalantly slip by the security guard at the top of the stairs, but he wasn’t having it. I TRIED to charm him, and for a second I thought I had him, but even when I clasped my hands together in “begging” formation, and gave him my best “Pleeeeeeeease can I go look at my seats! Plllllleeeeease,” (I admit that I exaggerate for comedic effect a LOT on this blog, but I SWEAR on my life that I am not exaggerating now. I literally begged this man to let me in) he didn’t bend. All he did was laugh at me- which means he will either be my boyfriend or my sworn enemy by season’s end. Only time will tell.
So, I still haven’t seen my seats, but that’s okay because HOCKEY IS ALMOST BACK AND SOON I GET TO SEE MY SEATS ALL THE DING-DANG TIME! WOOOOO!
When I got home from the arena, I was so gung-ho for hockey that I did something that I don’t think I’ve done all summer- I looked at the Sabres roster.
First things first.
Hey, Goose! HONK o’ the morning to you!
I was surprised to realize that I’ve never heard of half the dudes on the Sabres roster right now. Who are THESE guys?
Oh dear, Paul Byron. Oh no.
And then there was a pleasant surprise! Matt Ellis! He’s still a Sabre?! Hot diggity!
He’s still a Sabre, but he’s turned tiny over the summer. Why did they take Matt Ellis’ picture from thirty feet away? He looks like a kindergartener.
And just like that, with one glimpse at the Sabres website, hockey IS BACK. What the heck have I been blathering on about all summer? OUR LONG NIGHTMARE IS OVER! HOCKEY IS BACK! Soon, we’ll have scrimmages, and roster photos and GAMES to write about!
Maybe they won’t suck this season! What?….I SAID MAYBE!
One of my biggest frustrations as a Sabres customer last season was how the Sabres box office handled my mini-pack order. Basically, at some point last summer, I got on the phone with the Sabres, put in an order for hundreds of dollars worth of tickets, and then MONTHS later, after freaking out that somehow the entire order had been lost, I suddenly got a pile of tickets in the mail. I never got an invoice or any explanation of how the cost broke down per game- nothing. I just got tickets and a a ticket shaped “receipt” that said “total charge= x” I thought is was a pretty lame system.
(The other story I like to tell about the Sabres and their inability to behave like a normal 21st century business is the story of when I tried to change my address with them. First, I scoured their website trying to find a place to update my information, and when that failed, I called them up. I was told that they could NOT change my address online or over the phone. They needed my change of address in writing. Like, on a piece of paper. My two choices were to drive down to the arena and write my new address on a change of address form, or MAIL them my new address. I wound up hand writing a note that said, “My name is Katebits. My new address is blah blah blah,” and putting it in an envelope and mailing it to them via the US postal service. With a stamp. It was incredibly redonk.)
Because of my experience last year trying to get a mini-pack, I knew to brace myself for a rocky clerical road in regards to my season tickets. When I authorized the Sabres to charge to my credit card over the phone on Monday I did so with a stern reminder to myself. “Now Kate,” I warned, “the Sabres ticket office seems to be run using the technology of 1953. You should NOT waste any energy worrying about invoices or receipts. You should just have faith that everything will more or less work out.” (“Blind faith” is kind of a staple of the Sabre fan’s arsenal, isn’t it?)
Imagine my pleasant surprise when I received a hand printed envelope from the Sabres today. Could this possibly be the elusive, and heretofore presumed non-existent ticket invoice? It WAS! No way!
But still, I had to laugh at the stodgy old Sabres. Here is what the Sabres call a “reservation receipt”.
I blacked out all of the valuable info, you identity stealing stalker-y types.
I believe that this is the original of a carbon copy receipt, hand printed on a three-year-old (at least) form. It has a perforated edge on the top, which leads me to believe that somewhere at the Sabres box office they have a yellow (or pink) carbon copy of this receipt in a file cabinet. It’s possible that, for now, this is the only evidence in existence that I spent thousands of dollars on season tickets. I assume that eventually in the process things MUST become computerized, but even at this early stage, this is pathetically hilariously quaint.
They really ARE using 1950s technology!