Archive for the 'Ted Black' Category

Tick Tock

Somewhere in the back of my head a stopwatch started counting down last night.

For someone as hardcore about the Sabres as I am, I think I’m a fairly patient fan. I try not to get too salty about the Sabres, and often times that requires a little bit of self-delusion. I think sports fandom without at least a little bit of self-delusion is totally weird. Irrational hope is a big part of the attraction, here. It’s the reason we care about sports at all. So, as a mostly-sane Sabres fan, I have bumbled along this season, doling out the irrational hope during the “up” stretches and trying to avoid getting dramatically emo during the “down” stretches.

If I have enjoyed a favorite willful delusion this year it has been in the area of Terry Pegula and Ted Black. I want to believe in those guys, I want to believe that they have a plan and that eventually that plan will work. I want to believe, and so I do.

I still don’t think Pegula and Black have made any obvious and horrible mistakes, but they have been undeniably cautious. In many franchises (dare I say most?) Lindy and/or Darcy would’ve been fired this season. I don’t necessarily disrespect the decision to keep both coach and GM employed through this lost season, but my willingness to blindly follow Pegula and Black now feels a bit tested. It feels like the warm fuzzies that I enjoyed just one year ago on “Pegula Day” has an expiration date.

The clock has started.

The way I see it, Darcy has ten days to save his job, and then depending on how he performs, Pegula and Black have a few months to respond accordingly. Darcy has made a lot of mistakes in the past year, but with this trade deadline he now has the opportunity to fix a few of them. He needs to trade an expiring UFA contract or two (that’s the easy part), and he also needs to get one of these forwards (Stafford, Roy, Leino) off the books for next season. If Darcy can’t (or won’t) do that, then I think the pressure is on Pegula to fire him.

In hindsight it’s very strange to me that Pegula stated a timeline so specifically for winning the Cup when he took over the Sabres. Three years is such a short amount of time, and winning the Cup is so incredibly difficult. Why put a timeline on winning the Cup?

I think Pegula made a mistake when he assumed that Sabres fans want a Cup quickly. I can only speak for myself, but as long as it happens before I die, I’m not super concerned about the timeline for the Sabres winning it all. What I really care about is the sense that the franchise is in good hands. I want to see that poor performance has consequences. I want to believe that our young players have every opportunity to improve in the Sabres system. I want to feel like the team is on the right track. Granted this has been a monumentally disastrous season, but right now, I’m not so sure about any of those things.

Frankly, if someone came out today and said, “We’re rebuilding and we don’t know how long it’s going to take,” I’d be happier with that than I ever was with the arbitrarily chosen 3 year window to win.

Make no mistake, the Sabres had some unbelievably bad luck this season. And please don’t get me wrong, I’ll love this franchise for the rest of my life. But there’s faith and then there’s willful self-delusion. I’m capable of either, but faith is so much more satisfying. A franchise built on faith is a franchise that I can watch forever.

I want to believe, I really do, but Pegula’s grace period is now officially winding down. I suspect that the next few months will determine a lot about how we view this ownership team for a long time to come.


The Ecstasy and the Agony

The Ecstasy

That Leafs game was some seriously good times. Leafs fans are annoying mothereffers, but the arena was undeniably  amazing on Friday. The Leafs fans added to our experience tremendously. At times (like, every time the Sabres scored) it was AWESOME to have so many Leafs fans there, and times I wanted to light myself on fire with rage, but the entire night was passionately experienced, which is more than I can say for most games at FNC these days.

In the past I’ve avoided Leafs games (because, as previously mentioned, Leafs fans are annoying mothereffers, but also because you can completely rip them off by selling them your tickets), but Friday was a real eye opener. Leafs games are high risk, high reward. If the Sabres had lost it would’ve been playoff-loss-level misery, but when they won it felt like no win could ever feel as good as that win. Sometimes it’s good to just lose your head during a game, and the Leafs game certainly provide plenty of opportunity for that. (Along those lines, about halfway through the game, while watching a drunk, moronic nearby Leafs fan stand up in a sea of Sabres fans [during a commercial break, no less] and do that infinitely retarded thing where he grabbed the logo on his jersey to “taunt” other fans, Robin suddenly blurted out, “I’m gonna to punch that guy.” And for a brief moment, I think she meant it. After the moment passed, we laughed REALLY hard about that one, because of all the people I know, Robin might be the least likely to punch someone at a sporting event. The fact that she was tempted to punch someone speaks volumes about Leafs fans and also about our level of emotional commitment to the game. We went all in on Friday, and our reward was sweet.)

Robin and I sit low in the shoot twice side, so the Leaf fan presence wasn’t that horrendous (visiting fans tend to gravitate more towards the other end), but I know that my friend Roman didn’t fair as well. He estimated that up in his section in the 300s, the ratio was 70/30, Leafs fans. Ew! Poor Roman! But down in our end, we were mostly okay. In fact, the closest guy to us in a Leafs jersey turned out to be a Sabres fan who had lost a bet. We discovered this when, to our complete confusion, he turned around to high five us after the Sabres’ second goal.

Me: (high fives a dude in a Leafs jersey) WTF, dude? (points to his Leafs jersey)
Him: (shakes his head sadly) It’s okay. I’m a Sabres fan. I lost a bet.
Me: Ouch. Does your skin burn in that thing?
Him: Yeah, it does.

There was a moment late in the third period when I remember thinking to myself, “No matter what happens with the final score, I need to remember how fun this game has been.” Thank you Hockey Gods, for not testing my resolve on that pledge.

I had so much fun on Friday that after the game ended I was tempted to make a pact with the devil: As long as the Sabres manage to beat the Leafs at FNC forever and for all eternity, I don’t care what else happens. But thank GOD the devil wasn’t taking my calls on Friday night because the VERY next day, I was whistling a different tune…

The Agony

I was playing a concert Saturday night, so I didn’t see much of the game. But I saw enough. I saw enough to say definitively that the Sabres are in deep doo-doo. If Ryan Miller is going to play like crap, and half the roster is going to be injured, and the other half of the roster is going to be Roy and Stafford… the Sabres are in serious trouble. Not, like, cute “we just need time to gel, but it’s okay because we beat the Leafs last night” trouble, but real, “OMG. This season will be lost,” trouble.

The thing is, the more I think about it, the more I agree with Ted Black. We need to be patient. It’s not that I think that if we’re patient this roster is suddenly going to be good, or that Lindy Ruff will suddenly figure out how to make Roy and Stafford stop sucking, or that everything will be better once Tyler Myers and Brad Boyes come back. I just think it’s going to take time to fix this team. The fix is way more complicated than we want to believe.

Personally, until Ted Black and Terry Pegula give me reason to feel otherwise, I trust them to make measured, intelligent changes. It probably wasn’t what I would’ve done (no one will ever accuse me of being intelligent and measured), but keeping Lindy and Darcy after the ownership change was the intelligent, measured thing to do. The problem is that right now, in this situation, there isn’t a measured, intelligent change available. A new coach wouldn’t suddenly heal the injured players, and a new GM couldn’t make new cap space appear out of thin air.

As longtime readers of this blog know, I’m not one of those, “Lindy should have a job for life,” people. I’ve called for his head before. Right now, I don’t think the problem is coaching, and even if I did, there is just NO WAY Lindy should be fired while his forward lines look like this.

As for Darcy: So far, this season is looking like a perfect storm of suck for Darcy. I’m not willing to argue that any of his off-season signings were disastrous on their own (okay, maybe Leino, but… I still want to believe in Leino, so dammit, that’s what I’ll do), but the cap situation is h-o-r-r-i-b-l-e. The Sabres have exactly zero space under the cap right now and they are in injury hell.  The lack of cap space puts Darcy in a severely weakened position when it comes to tinkering with the current roster. Even when the plan was “cross your fingers and pray everyone stays healthy,” Darcy was still walking a very dangerous line with his cap space, but now, with all these call ups, he’s in serious trouble. This is the very definition of cap mismanagement, and in my opinion, depending on how the season shakes out, it’s a fire-able offense. But again, we’ll see.

It’s annoying as HELL to admit it, but it’s pretty difficult to fairly assess the roster with this many injuries. The intelligent, measured thing to do is to wait and see. Ted is right.

It seems to me that a lot of Sabres fans reacted to Pegula by upping their expectations dramatically without much consideration for how these new expectations could be met. I upped my expectations too, but unlike in the past, I now have faith that Sabres ownership is going to keep trying. When things don’t work out, Pegula and Ted Black aren’t going to do nothing. No, the first two and a half months of the 2011/12 season have not gone spectacularly well, but, I fully believe that they’re going to keep trying. So, if Darcy and/or Lindy need to go, I think sooner rather than later they will go. I couldn’t say that about the previous ownership.

Instead of feeling angry about the roster, I feel oddly pacified this season. It never made sense to me that Pegula could waltz in and be all, “I am a billionaire, and I want a Cup! BEGIN WINNING CUPS, BUFFALO SABRES.” That would’ve been too easy.

I believe that when Pegula took over, he gave Darcy Regier just enough rope to hang himself. Whether or not Darcy’s summertime moves have doomed him is still up in the air. I like Darcy as a person, and I love it when the Sabres are successful, so I hope things turn around here, but if they don’t, I do trust that things will change.

For now, we wait.

(But if Darcy wants to get to work trading Roy and/or Stafford, that’d be fine by me.)

5 Things

Okay, I PROMISED myself, under pain of death (well, okay, not death, but maybe “pain of extreme self loathing”) that I would blog this week, NO MATTER WHAT. According to my calendar, today is Thursday, which makes tomorrow Friday, which means time is running out. So, here I am.


The bad news is, I really don’t have a lot to say. The good news is, damn it, I’ll be saying it in the form of a blog post, come hell or high water.

You will probably notice that for the most part I’m choosing not to address the multitude of tragedies that struck the hockey world over the summer. Please don’t interpret this as a lack of heartfelt and sorrowful consideration. Many times over the last few week I’ve sat down in front of the computer to express sorrow, or to opine on a number of issues, but honestly… I just can’t. There was too much sadness this summer for me to address here. This frivolous blog is no place to be discussing matters of life and death. I just can’t do it. Maybe someday, but not today.

So, onward!

1. I went to the US Open last week with the Ookies, and it was every bit as fun as “going to the US Open with the Ookies” sounds like it might be fun.


I’m no tennis expert, but to my untrained eye, the U.S. Open appears to be a wonderland of tennis. While you’re at the U.S. Open, you wander blissfully around, flitting in and out of matches, and marveling at the enormous spectacle of it all.

We went at the very beginning of the tournament, and I knew from the get-go that we probably wouldn’t be seeing any big stars. This ended up being totally fine with me though, because it turns out I was MUCH more drawn to the tiny courts than I was to any of the bigger venues. I think the coolest thing about the U.S. Open is how close you can get to the action.

Here's a shot I took with my phone from the FRONT row of a doubles match. The front row is close enough to feel a little dangerous. Also, any court this small is very likely to put you in the immediate vicinity of at least some portion of the player's coaching/support entourage, so be carefully about repeatedly referring to one of the players as "Andy Murray's less talented younger brother" unless you're prepared to field some dirty looks.

I loved the tiny courts, and if I ever return to the U.S Open (I WILL RETURN), I think my game plan will be to just pick a tiny court and camp out there all day long. I will, however, need someone to fetch me cold drinks and snacks so that I don’t lose my seats, so if you’re up to the task, you should come along.

2. For a variety of reasons, ranging from normal-offseason-antsyness to unrelenting-tragedy-and-despair, THIS OFFSEASON NEEDS TO STOP. And guess what? It will! Really soon!

Hockey is almost here now. It’s perfectly reasonable to start anticipating the hockey season. Football starts tonight, and after football, hockey comes right behind. Training camp starts ONE WEEK from tomorrow. Ticket drafts are occurring across the land. Season tickets are available for pickup MONDAY. It’s happening you guys, it’s really happening. Hockey is returning.

3. Along with hockey will come a whole slew of new Sabres, and speaking of those Sabres… I was practically Vile Leino’s landlord.  Allow me to explain: My friend’s fiancee’s brother almost rented his carriage house to Ville Leino. I KNOW. Can you imagine how much better this blog would’ve gotten if I had access to a spare set of keys to Ville Leino’s apartment? INFINITELY BETTER. But alas, Ville chose a different apartment.

(Private to Ville Leino: wise move)

(Private to everyone else in the world: I’m just kidding. If, by sheer coincidence, Ville Leino had moved into an apartment owned by a friend of mine, I would’ve employed the super suave move I’ve used for every other Sabre I’ve ever encountered in a real life situation- pretend I don’t recognize him and then hide behind the nearest large object just in case he tries to make eye contact. Not only would I not harass him, I’d probably avoid the entire square mile surrounding his apartment for the duration of his lease.)

4. I wouldn’t exactly say I’m on a diet, but this summer I’ve been sort of trying to watch what I eat. (Can’t you just feel the commitment in that last sentence?) This week I’ve been feeling a little cranky about the lack of delicious desserts in my life. In an effort to stave off the inevitable eating of a genuinely delicious dessert, I bought some Wegmans brand sugar-free pudding yesterday. I just ate one now, and it was truly gross. There was absolutely NO HINT of “delicious dessert” in that little plastic cup. If you’d fed me that pudding in a blindfolded taste test and asked me to identify the substance, I would’ve replied, “…dish soap?”

I do NOT recommend Wegmans brand sugar-free pudding. At all.

5. I ordinarily put “Live Chats” extremely low on my list of things-to-do, but Ted Black’s live chats really are a thing of beauty. Ted Black is legit funny, and he has never, not for even one second come across as a d-bag. In fact, Black seems so at home online that I’ve started to wonder if perhaps he already has a top-secret twitter account, and he’s actually someone we’ve already been interacting with for months. I’m starting to wonder which one of the zillions of Sabres fans on twitter is really Ted Black, just letting it all hang out.

Anyhooch, I recommend these chats. They’re fun. AND, if you’re very lucky, and you pepper Ted and Kevin Snow with enough ridiculous questions/twitter comments, you might get yourself a shoutout.

Yay! It pays to be annoying!

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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.)


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…


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.”) 


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.


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!


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.


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!”


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!


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…


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”.


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.


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.


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.

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!

…A Blog About the Buffalo Sabres

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