Archive for the ‘Media’ Category

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What’s Next?

February 24, 2011

- If you’ve been reading this blog for any length of time, you know that I am a fan of The West Wing. One of Josiah Bartlet’s favorite things to ask on the show is “what’s next?” Terry Pegula answered that question for us on Tuesday: what’s next is winning a Stanley Cup. Before that (or to aid in that), the immediate “what’s next?” is to attract players to Buffalo. We all know that players fall in love with Buffalo once they get here, it’s the getting them here that’s been the hard part. Gossip about how previous management treated the players ran rampant throughout the league, and no matter how much current players talked up the organization, players were reluctant to come here. I have a feeling that Pegula’s true enthusiasm for the team, the sport and the city is going to shine through and that we may be seeing free agents start wanting to come here during free agent season.

- I said on Twitter last night that Pegula must be feeling like a kid in a candy store. He’s met his hero Perreault, was surprised at center ice by the French Connection, and had an entire arena full of fans chanting his name. Where else can you go from there?

- According to Thomas Vanek’s official blog, Pegula is throwing a party at the arena for not only the Sabres players & staffers, but also their families. I really do think that is a nice touch, as the families are just as important as the players themselves. And if you continue reading Vanek’s blog, it seems that his mini backyard rink is the site of quite the ruckus when Leopold & Lalime bring their kids over. I really like hearing warm and fuzzy anecdotes like this one, as it stresses how close some of them are off the ice. We rarely hear stories like this from the media because warm and fuzzy generally doesn’t sell papers or gross ratings points. I’m not saying I want an entire sports report or sports section full of warm and fuzzy, but the occasional bit would be nice. And can someone tell me how the Sabres can have a no-Twitter policy, but yet Vanek can still blog? A blog is still social media. Just saying…

- The decision to waive Rivet was shocking on one hand because he’s the team captain, but yet not shocking because the guy has had his rear permanently glued to a seat in the press box for a good chunk of this season. It’s going to be fascinating to see whether another team picks him up on the re-entry wire, or whether he just fades back into the press box for the remainder of the season if Darcy can’t pull a trade out of his hat.

- I’m decidedly not a fan of Pegula calling out local sportswriters for being tough on players. By their play – or lack thereof – players help sportswriters make the case that they are soft, fragile, clumsy, lazy and whatever other adjective has been used to describe some players lately. Writers write what they see. They aren’t paid to be the team’s spin doctors (that’s what PR guys are for*). Sports writers are meant to be objective news reporters, or in the case of commentary, present their arguments in a logical and hopefully fair manner. It’s not the owner’s job to plead the case for his players. The players should be able to handle a little criticism from the media. They’re professional athletes and grown ups. They shouldn’t be running to PR/management every time the media has a negative thing to say about them.

*I know PR isn’t spin. Put your rotten tomatoes down.

That’s not to say that the media is blameless in its somewhat contentious relationship with the team. There are times that issues have been hashed and rehashed until they’ve just turned into a talking point that seems to be included because it’s expected. I think that both sides need to move on and just start with a fresh slate now that there’s a new man in town. What’s in the past is in the past. Move on.

- Finally, and this is completely not hockey related, I watched the launch of Space Shuttle Discovery before I left the office today. There’s always something exciting and awesome about a space shuttle launch. I mean, it’s 6 very brave men and women sitting on top of a rocket getting hurtled into the great unknown. There’s a lot that can go wrong (and has).  The fact that the shuttle program is winding down and there is no viable replacement in sight makes me kind of sad for what this current generation of kids is going to miss. My parents, as most baby boomers, grew up in the midst of the Cold War and the space race. As kids, they lived through JFK promising a moon landing and the growth of the Apollo program. They encouraged their kids – my peers – to study math and science so that they could be astronauts some day. Game shows targeted to kids regularly gave away trips to space camp. The way things are going, my generation is going to be the last one to grow up with space travel as a “regular” thing. What’s next after there’s no shuttle to hurtle people into outer space? Do we not strive for the moon or further exploration because there’s budget difficulties and cuts have to be made somewhere? Who knows. I feel like this scene from the West Wing encapsulates why space is still so important:

What’s next, indeed.

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What We’ve Learned Today

November 23, 2010

1. Derek Roy did not punch Tim Connolly and is upset that you would think otherwise.

2. Tim Connolly still has not spoken to the media regarding this entire situation. If he would just come out and say that he was (potentially) sauced up and tripped over his own two feet while attempting to be cute and clever, no one would judge him and this entire thing would probably just fade into the sunset. Let’s move on.

3. John Vogl does not like Twitter and thinks those that use it need to get out and get a life. I know Vogl has made his internet disdain known before (see his comments on Sabres Edge about how he wishes he could just be a newspaper writer, rather than a newspaper writer that writes blogs on occasion), but this is the first time he has been so vehement about the evils of the internet.  By delivering an anti-Twitter rant on Sabres Edge, Vogl made himself – and his opinions on Twitter – the story, rather than Roy/Connolly’s alleged conduct at the Catwalk for Charity. Interesting deflection tactic by what you would think would be a non-biased source of information.

I understand that Twitter might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but to insult those people that use it because you yourself have no use for it is not fair. The world is going digital. Don’t mock those of us that are exploring how to widen our communication pool because you yourself don’t see any value in it. That’s one of the great joys of a digital world. You can either choose to – or choose not to – use a tool.

That said, I would think that newspapers would want to encourage writers to use Twitter to promote articles that appear on the paper’s site in order to generate traffic on the site. (Traffic = revenue. And that’s a good thing.) However, I can also see the other side of the argument that Twitter allows for much more immediate feedback from the public. That uncensored & rapid feedback is probably disconcerting for people who are not familiar with how the tool works (or those that just don’t want to hear from their adoring public).

That said, there are some journalists that do use Twitter (Mike Harrington, James Mirtle, Elliotte Friedman, Bob MacKenzie, the ESPN writers, etc) and use it well. I hope we continue to see those ranks grow in the future.

4. This entire situation reminds me why I did not go into PR as a career. I’m sure the Sabres PR department was having a field day with this one. I may have messes to clean up in the ad world, but they are nowhere near messes of this scale.

5. The fact that most people are not ashamed of Derek Roy, and would probably throw him a parade if Sunday’s alleged event actually did happen, is astounding. I’m not sure if Roy was aware of this when he made his comments to the media earlier. However, what does it say about Timmy’s shelf life in Buffalo if people are happy hearing that he got popped one by a teammate? (Or not, as it were.)

6. It stinks when you write a draft of a post (“Reasons Why Roy-Z Would Have Popped Timmy”) over your lunch break, but due to time restrictions, cannot post it. By the time you are able to post, the topic is no longer valid.

7. On a non-Timmy/Roy-Z note, Lindy hit about a 9.0 on the rant scale today at practice. Very nice work, coach!

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Uh Huh, This is Costing Me How Much?

August 21, 2010

Most of this post was written while sitting for 5.5 hours in the waiting room at Transitowne, waiting for Roy the Car to get fixed. (If only it was that easy to fix my car’s namesake, LOL.)

- If you saw the article concerning Buffalo’s prep for the world juniors in the hard copy of today’s paper, you would have noticed in the accompanying image that there were large yellow dots on the floor of the Sabres locker room. (For some reason the image is not in the online edition.) Is management expecting a twister game to break out pregame? (“Right foot yellow! Left hand yellow! Right hand errr yellow!”) Or are they meant to give the players something to chuckle about as they watch the media try and avoid stepping on the yellow dots in the middle of the floor during the post game media ruckus? Of course, watch them be something as innocuous as patches over freshly sewn carpet, or something like that.

- Kudos to the Bisons for getting involved with the WJC fun downtown and wanting to host a winter wonderland at Coca Cola Field in between hockey games. What a nice diversion and a way to keep people downtown.

- I was watching PTI yesterday and Dan LeBatard was talking about the Bills in Toronto, and how he can’t say anything bad about the city of Buffalo because every time he does, his inbox fills up. Is PTI really that popular amongst Buffalonians / Bills fans that he gets that much “hate” mail? Poor little LeBatard . And speaking of PTI, where the heck have TK and Willybuns been lately? It seems like they have been on vacation forever. I enjoy LeBatard, but Bob Ryan is a little too dry for my tastes. But then again, as long as Reali is there, it’s all good.

- I finished reading Ken Dryden’s “The Game” while at the dealership. If you haven’t read this book, and you’re a hockey fan, you need to put it on your reading list. His thoughts on what makes the game of hockey great, the different roles players have on teams and the chemistry generated by having the right mix of these players is incredibly insightful. Sure, Dryden’s playing career was a bit before my time, so I was not as familiar with the great Canadiens teams as someone who is a bit older would be, but the book is still a great read nonetheless. I was particularly amused by his musings on why goalies are considered nutty and it’s not just because they’re willing to step in front of a speeding rubber disk every night.

- And finally, if this Geico commercial does not make you smile, well…

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Who Would Have Thought Entertainment Weekly Would Talk Hockey?

May 29, 2010

So I’m perusing Entertainment Weekly for my daily dose of reputable celebrity gossip, when I stumble across this article. The site interviewed Mike Bolt, the Cup’s official wrangler/BFF about some of the wackiest celebrity encounters he’s had with the Cup. After reading his list, I really wish I could interview Chris Chelios. Dude has had a hell of a career and could probably share some killer stories.

So I hope we all enjoy the Stanley Cup Finals, and Ryan Miller’s special guest star performance as an analyst opposite Pierre & Milbury. What has a greater chance of happening: Miller in a crazy suit, Miller raising a wonky brow in confusion after something one of the ACME Brain trust says, or Miller snapping and going all “bitch, please” on one of them?

Prediction: Hawks in 6.

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We’re #3!

April 5, 2010

Mediapost provided a nice summary of the Brand Keys Sports Loyalty Index. The NHL ranked #3 in terms of fan loyalty (with the NFL and MLB tied for 1st and the NBA running 2nd). The study measures fan loyalty based upon four criteria:

  1. entertainment/excitement level of the team
  2. how they play as a team
  3. level of bonding fans have with players (the puckbunny index?)
  4. team history and tradition

So why does the NHL rank so low on the list? I think we all can agree that the games are exciting and most teams are relatively exciting (except those playing the dreaded trap). Hockey is a total team sport that requires the cooperation of all 6 guys on the ice at the same time. While there are individual stars, no one star is responsible for the fortunes of a team (Do you hear me on that one Sabres? Step up and stop relying on Miller to carry your asses.) The NHL players and fans for all intents and purposes have a good relationship…that occasionally is not dependent upon looks, talent or the amount of alcohol consumed. And with few exceptions, NHL teams have a solid history and sense of tradition.

The president of Brand Keys offers the following hypothesis for the low popularity of the NHL:

“…it isn’t TV-friendly, and because of players’ gear, is not amenable to player-fan loyalty. “It’s very hard to set up a situation where you can bond with players. They all look the same.”

I’m sorry, what? All NHL players look the same? Is he implying that hockey is a predominately white sport – which it is, I won’t deny that – and that’s why it doesn’t appeal? Or is he saying that from the cheap seats – both those at the arena and at home – all five skaters look the same and only the goalies really stand out? I beg to differ on both arguments, as really, the first one is just a bunch of crap. And the second one is easily disproven, considering it can become fairly easy to start picking out particular hockey players once you start paying attention to the game. Using the Sabres as an example, you can start differentiating the Myers/Ennis/Gerbe/Roys of the world because of their height. Then you start weeding out the Mair/Gaustad/Ellis types: the muckers and grinders who are all heart and effort, all the time. And you keep going from there.

I’d also call bupkus on not there not being any fan/player loyalty in the NHL. How many player specific jerseys do you see at any given game? And more importantly, how many “special” player specific jerseys do you see? I’m referring here to the Michigan State Miller jerseys or the Minnesota Vanek sweaters that you see sprinkled around the arena. Also, let us not forget the fan uproar when Briere and Drury left town. Those gentlemen still get booed at the arena. Maybe Buffalo is a special case, but the NHL not being conducive to developing player/fan loyalty is bunk.

So who does this study say are the most loyal fans in the NHL?

  • Detroit
  • Philly
  • San Jose
  • New Jersey
  • Boston

I’m kind of shocked by the inclusion of San Jose and New Jersey on the list. Maybe it’s just my East Coast “old” team bias, but the Sharks are a relatively new team and yet still rank in the top five…playoff chokes and all. New Jersey is shocking because although they have a team that has won championships and has consistent management, they’re often overlooked for their regional neighbors when it comes to media coverage.

I feel like I wandered around a bit in this post, so thank you for bearing with me. What do you all think?

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Woof. Woof.

January 7, 2010

This week’s SI has a great article discussing NHL players and their residency periods in their respective coaches doghouses. The explanation of the Penner situation in Edmonton and the difference in his performance really is striking. I had heard rumblings of disappointment in Penner’s play last season, but how many of us had any idea that Penner theoretically was bicycling his way through the Tour deFrance.

I did get a small laugh out of this statement from Penner.

“You have to read between the lines in what a coach is saying,” Penner says. “Sometimes there’s swearing or demeaning stuff, but I’ve always had a pretty good filter. I’m like, What is it he’s really trying to say to me? So, ‘You’re a f—ing idiot’ becomes ‘There’s something I’ve done that he doesn’t perceive to be smart.‘ … You tune in the part about what you can do better and tune out [the rest].”

The bolded statement is particularly ridiculous because it sounds like something straight out of a corporate visualization/positivity seminar.

The SI article is particulary timely because of the TSN story detailing Ron Wilson’s ripping Phil Kessel a new asshole at practice today. (And by “ripping a new asshole” I mean, “having a frank, honest and calm discussion like two mature adults.”) I can’t blame Wilson for being frustrated. The Leafs aren’t doing so well. Kessel hasn’t lived up to the glories he had with the Bruins. But to be fair, Kessel was trumpeted as the saviour of Leafs hockey this summer. And really, who can live up to the expectation of being a franchise’s saviour? (Sit down, Sidney. You too, Ovie. No one asked you.)

But at the same time, I think Wilson was in the wrong by ripping the Kessel and the team in front of the media and then turning around and bitching out the media for having the audacity to a) question him on it and b) even be at practice in the first place. Sure, the media can come across as a pain in the ass (sorry, media in the audience) but it’s nothing personal. It’s their job to be that way. They report on what you do. And if you rip your players at practice, of course they’re going to ask you about it. And duh, it’s going to be eleventy-seven times worse in Toronto where a Leaf sneezing makes news, than it would be in many other NHL markets.

I think that the openness of NHL practices and the locker rooms is one of the good things about the league. Sure, the teams still have their inner sanctums where angels fear to tread, but the media being able to see and report on line combinations, player injuries, interactions and even impromptu games of baseball is much better than what we see in other sports. I mean, aren’t reporters only allowed to see the first 20 minutes or so of Bills practice before being told to scram? Imagine how much richer Bills stories would be if the media was allowed to see the entirety of practice, but league (or team) rules prohibit that.

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The Big Easy

December 10, 2009

On this cold and snowy day, read Pierre LeBrun’s article about Tyler Myers and pick up some warm fuzzies about the kid.

- He lives by himself in downtown Buffalo rather than crashing with a teammate or team owner because he wants down time to be by himself.

- His parents raised him to cook, clean and do laundry.

- The protein bar “recipe” is shared.

- His teammates have nicknamed him The Big Easy. Please tell me I’m not the only one that got multiple meanings out of a seemingly innocent nickname. Heh.

- His grandparents drive up for a good chunk of his games and helped him set up a Christmas tree in his apartment.  (Unlike Mr. Staffy who will not be having a tree this year, as he is celebrating Festivus. Please Staffy, let me know when the airing of grievances is. I’d love to know what yours are.)

Seriously though, Myers sounds like he has a good head on his shoulders and when he grows up a bit, I can see him with a letter on his sweater.

And continuing with the warm and fuzzy, check out the video of the Portland WinterHawks Teddy Bear Toss. One goal and 16,000+ bears later…

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Stop The Presses

November 9, 2009

I’m cutting and pasting  this Bucky Gleason quote so that when January comes and the “Fire Lindy” columns start coming, we all have this on record.

Ruff is both a good coach and the right coach for Buffalo.

I also find it slightly hysterical that Lindy was reading a parenting book in order to become a better coach. Does that imply that he’s coaching a group of children?

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Lazy Random YouTube Post

September 9, 2009

I am in love with this State Farm Commercial.

I think my favorite part is the kid’s expression after the jack-in-the-box pops open. That’s a definite clean up in aisle 27 expression. The kid chasing the dog is a close second.

- And that sound you hear coming from my house tonight is probably going to be my DVR exploding. The 2-hour premiere of ANTM, Glee, SYTYCD, and Top Chef are all on tonight. So is Toddlers and Tiaras, but I DVR the late showing of that. It’s such a bad show, but after watching it, I’m thankful that my parents never approached the level of BSC (that’s batshit crazy) exhibited by those on this show.

- Has it been determined what time practice actually starts at Puck Drop on Saturday? The Sabres site lists what times the extracurricular activities will be happening, but there’s nothing about what time the actual hockey stuff will be happening. Clarity is much appreciated.

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Roundup.

September 3, 2009

- Who says Bucky Gleason isn’t inspirational? After reading his column regarding the NHLPA follies, I was inspired with a name for my fantasy hockey team. The Two-Eyed Pea Brains will be striving for their third consecutive 5th place finish in the IPB Super/Amazing League.

Since house rules limit me to Western Conference players only, I have to decide whether to again pick Luongo for the third consecutive year. Lui has been a solid performer for me, but I can’t help but think he’ll fall prey to DiPietro Syndrome and be injured a lot now that he’s signed a super-long term deal. At least this year, the battle over Pronger and his Elbows of Fury moves over to those picking from the Eastern Conference.

- With the current labor situations in both the NHL and the NFL, is it possible that both leagues could be on a lockout during the same year? Whatever the heck will Buffalo fans have to bitch about if this is the case? There’s only so many “those greedy players/owners/fans/mascots/bastards” posts that one can write.

- Speaking of the NFL, they are apparently cracking down on live-blogging during games from in-stadium locations. Bad NFL. At least the NHL hasn’t stooped to this level, but the NHL has been more receptive of social media venues than other sports.

- I’m glad to see that Sabres Edge is doing well, but do they realize that in the world of interweb advertising, a “hit” is often referred to as “how idiots [measure] traffic.” Just saying…

- Yay! Darcy’s alive! I’m willing to give our motley crew of Sabres ANOTHER chance, but if I start seeing half-assedness on a repeated basis – Roy, Hecht, Tallinder, et.al, I’m looking at you – I will not be a happy camper. Here’s to hoping that the “leaders” in the locker room can help lead some of the younger, more impressionable Sabres along the right path. Oh, who the hell am I kidding, you can lead horses to water, but you can’t make them drink.

- Alright, I read about Adam Mair’s potential hip issues at least a month ago on a message board. Just saying.

- Gauntlet…thrown. Gerbe is reporting that he is NOT going back down (east?) to Portland this year. Good to see a little bit of spunk out of Gerbe, but at the same time, he has to play [ahem] within the system and not try to do it all. He worked hard last year, but whether it was rookie jitters or being overwhelmed by NHL defense, he didn’t do well with the Sabres. The little button has to step it up this year with the glut at forward.

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