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Vulgar Opinions: No Identity (NSFW)

12/24/11
by

As I sit here watching the Swords of a Thousand Men music video for no real reason I can discern, something I’ve said ad nauseum this season comes back to me.  From the top to the bottom, from the team to the fans, the Sabres are a team with no identity to speak of.  There is no sense of self within the team, they’re merely a collection of players that mirror what their opponents bring instead of dictating the game themselves.  Bruins coming to town?  Play tough.  Penguins coming to town?  Be skilled.  Senators coming to town, hustle.  Yes, but what are we?

And for all the good things they’ve done, the new ownership doesn’t have an answer.  Walk through the halls of the First Niagara Center and you can’t tell if you’re standing in a hockey arena or a plaza filled with insurance companies and karate dojos.  Sure the shiny new signs above the vendors look nice, but what good does that do aside from giving people more of an incentive to roam the halls than to sit in their seats and cheer on the team?

Listen to the music?  Have you heard Fight for Your Right by the Beastie Boys, Kids in America by Cascada, Cotton Eyed Joe by Rednexx, Cha Cha Slide by Willie Perry Jr., I’ve got a Feeling by the Black Eyed Peas, or Dynamite by Taio Cruz before?  You will.  There is nothing unique about the Sabres gameday presentation, nothing we can lay claim to and call our own.  Oh sure, there’s Sabre Dance, but that doesn’t get the crowd to do anything more than sit there in silence and wait for it to stop.  (And for the love of god, make it stop.  It has Sabre in it, awesome, so does the Sabre Class Star Trek ship, who cares.)

It’s paralyzingly sad that you can come to HSBC and take nothing away from the experience.  It’s getting to the point where being there doesn’t even feel special anymore.  Any attempts at ingenuity and innovation have been crushed.  For a little while we actually had a goal song that didn’t sound like someone just threw a dart at a list of rock music.  Gone.  The organization is soliciting song choices for the arena…for about three songs, then it’s back to the same old shit music.

Where is the identity?  What the hell are we exactly?  What is this team, who are we as fans?  We’re a good market, but we sure as hell don’t show it.  And for good reason, what incentive is there for someone like me who lives two hours away to spend $30 on gas, and $100 on tickets to come watch?  You can cop out and blame the uninspiring team for uninspiring fans, but the fact is that there are far less inspiring teams in the NHL with far better crowds.  Not all of that blame can be put on the team.  I think Ted Black needs to get out of his “I did all this good stuff in Pittsburgh” mode and figure out what best fits Buffalo.  And that’s not an indictment of him, there’s nothing wrong with emulating successful peers, but at some point you have to develop a vision of what you’re trying to achieve and go above and beyond to get it.

So what do you do?

  • Figure out what the hell you are as a team.  How does your talent best allow you to win games?  Don’t try to play physical if you’re not a physical team, play your own game.  The Bruins know they’re tough, the Red Wings know they’re skilled.  The Sabres don’t have a fucking clue.
  • Fire the arena music staff.  Seriously, iTunes on shuffle could do a better job of picking music.  I’d drink my own pee if I went to a game with this staff and didn’t hear one of the songs I listed earlier.  Music is subjective and you’re never going to please everyone, I get that, but what you can do is avoid making everyone roll their eyes when you play the same old watered down mainstream garbage every night.
  • Find a good goal song and promote the hell out of it so that people know how to react.  With the lackluster way Swords was introduced, it’s no wonder some pockets of the crowd didn’t know what the hell to do.
  • A good time to play RJ would be when the goal is announced, not right after it’s scored.  It kills the crowd.
  • Find things to do where you can say “Buffalo is willing to do this, and no one else is.”  The plaza is a great one, but we need something else, and not stupid irrelevant shit like urinal beer shelves and warm water.  Are we really that pathetic?
  • More highlights during the intermissions, especially of relevant games.  The more important the game is (or seems), the more the crowd is into it.  More hockey highlights period.  What the god damn hell, I get to see more old bitches dancing in the Blue Cross commercial on the jumbotron at the FNC than I do actual hockey.  Show college hockey highlights.  You’ve got Niagara there and New York State has Clarkson, St. Lawrence, RPI, and a bunch of other colleges.  Show Amerks highlights because (as we’re seeing now), those players kind of matter.  Show me something will you?
  • Less shit that has nothing to do with hockey.  Don’t we pride ourselves on being a very hockey intelligent fanbase?  At the very least can’t you photoshop the opposing jersey onto the dumbasses falling down in the blooper reel?

I’m sure @3rdmanin can come up with a hundred more (and in fact already has), and he’s absolutely right.  I’m starting to question the point in going to Buffalo.  There’s nothing about the arena that can beat out my 42″ HDTV and ability to pee alone enough to make me want to go.  And at least when they lose I can do something else right away instead of having to drive the two hours home.  Come on Buffalo.

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