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WBEN Commentary & Opinion

 
Thoughts from WBEN/WGR/WWKB Operations Manager Tim Wenger
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Posts from April 2013


In Buffalo, Take Nothing for Granted
Ryan Miller
I'm thinking Buffalo Sabres President Ted Black felt about the same Monday afternoon as Ryan Miller did in this photo when he couldn't do anything about a puck that was about to hit the back of the net.  During the Sabres end of season news conference, any hopes Black had to offer some reasoned commentary ended when two members of the media peppered him on the timing of the Sabres season ticket price increase announcement and the perceived lack of availability of team owner Terry Pegula.  And while I won't apologize for the press for asking the questions, I will raise my hand and at least say it was the "way" and "tone" that the questions were delivered that derailed the season-ending session.
But here's what I'm thinking.                                                           

What happened at that press conference was a manifestation of how this town feels about its sports teams.  They come up short of the playoffs, we're told we're "rebuilding" and some of the key names who occupy the top management offices remain in place.  All that while, in some cases, the price of a ticket goes up.  If you've spent any amount of time in Buffalo, you've heard this before.  And you'll undoubtedly hear it again.

Ted Black and Darcy Regier saw up close and personal the frustration of many a fan through the tone of the questions lobbed by Jerry Sullivan and Mike Harrington.  It was heated indeed.  And Ted Black admittedly lost his cool too, even offering a rare apology at the end of the session. 

While many are taking sides and pointing the finger at the media or the Sabres management in the verbal spar, I'm saying it's just the same conversation that's being had on the streets of "hockey heaven".  Fans are frustrated.  And I think it's a good sign Ted Black has a temper to lose.  Does anyone honestly think he wants anything other than the same thing the fans do?  A winning season.  Playoffs.  Maybe even a cup.
I'll completely agree that fans receiving a season ticket price increase notification in the mail on the day of the final game and "fan appreciation day" is a timing blunder, but I'd challenge anyone to find many entertainment options where the price is staying the same or going down.  If the cost of tickets needs to go up, so be it.  But at least think twice about when you send out the notice.  And the fact that Terry Pegula is a billionaire really shouldn't have anything to do with how much a ticket costs.  The Sabres, or any professional sports franchise for that fact, aren't a charity or not for profit. 

Finally, as for Terry Pegula being made available for the media?  How many owners have a press conference at the end of a losing season?  I think we can all agree that Pegula has done more good than bad for this community by snatching up the Sabres and investing millions in our waterfront.  Pegula has entrusted Black and Regier to lead the team.  That's where the anger should be directed.  Had we gone to the playoffs and Pegula didn't do an end of season news conference, would we be having the same conversation?  I think not.

Sports is simple.  When you win,  people smile.  When you lose, people are mad. 

In the meantime, can't we all just get along??
 (3) Comments




 
The Life of a Buffalo Sports Fan
Jason Pominville
If you're from Buffalo, I hope this is interesting.  But it shouldn't be new.  And if you're not from Buffalo, this writing may explain the attitude of many a Buffalo sports fan.
This is the land where we judge the success of our seasons by how close we get to almost making it to the playoffs.  

For the past few weeks at work, I've been hearing the chatter in the hallways that goes something like this:  "We're only four points out of the 8th spot" or "If we win tonight and two other teams lose, we might be within three points of the 8th spot"!  And then there is my favorite conversation on the radio that suggests we're better off simply losing out, losing our remaining games, to make certain we have a good shot in the draft.  How pathetic.

But it doesn't end there.  It's relentless and it happens year after year.  It happens in football season and in hockey season.  And if that's not enough, it even happens during the off season.  We hope for change at the deadlines and in the drafts and our hopes are most often dashed.  We certainly can't forget the 24/7 Mario Williams watch can we?  Days went by and we sat on the edge of our seats wondering if we would win the prize.  This was it!  Mario could be the off season ticket to the NFL post season.  We all know how that went.

In other towns the trading deadlines and drafts are times to bolster their teams and make them better.  In this town, those days are better than the regular season!  These pivotal days offer us hope that maybe we will make the moves that will help us finally bring home the championship hardware.  Again, hopes dashed.
I can't criticize the brass of the Bills and Sabres for not trying.  They've spent sizeable amounts of money and invested in the teams.  But the formulas just seem cursed.   Think about it.  Wide right!  No goal! John Rigas! Mario Williams!   And that's just a handful in the bag of Buffalo sports bitter pills.  Oh, and don't be caught saying we missed Briere and Drury after we let them slip away.  That's truly taboo.
Sure, we all want a Superbowl or Stanley Cup championship. But I'd settle for just being more excited about our teams during their respective seasons than on days like today, the NHL trade deadline.  Today is a day we hear Buffalo Sabres fans hoping for a trade involving the players who once brought us such great joys and hopes.  Who could imagine, just a year or two ago, talk of trades involving Pominville, Vanek or Miller.  Now it's just part of the Buffalo sports conversation.

I know great teams are built over years and I know it takes bold moves on days like today to lay the foundation for a true championship team.  But forgive me for being  from Buffalo and saying "we've been here and done this before".   And we always buy into the hope that it WILL work.  Let's hope it does.....this time.

But we'll have to do it with one or two fewer of our favorites here in "Pominville".
 (1) Comments
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Topics: Sports
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People: John RigasMario Williams




 
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