Puckin’ Ambiance

The Buffalo Sabres have been getting dinged and even they admit deservedly for a lot over the past few seasons, but one of the reoccuring complaints is how it can be so quiet in the First Niagara Center.

It has been quiet, but I think that is a reflection of what has been a dull product at times. The post Drury/Briere (yeah, I said it) haven’t always been the most exciting in our hockey times. There has been sustained….meh.

You don’t solve that with more cowbell. I agree, sometimes it has been quiet and I think at times we were numbed, but as the Sabres outplayed the Canadiens, Sabretooth didn’t need to work hard to raise an appropriate ruckrus.

Sports fans are dreamers, you give us sustained hope and we’ll drink the kool-aid. I mean we are rooting for laundry as Jerry Seinfeld once pointed out. We just want the laundry to look good.





Banner Days

A little perspective is a good thing. During their existence, the Montreal Expos occasionally bubbled to the middle of the pennant races. See a game from Olympic Stadium often made you wonder if there was anybody in the place. Before bad ownership and latent indifference chased the Expos out of existence and into Washington, they did have a number of stars. They just had the gross misfortune of sharing the town with the Montreal Canadiens, who have this pesky habit of regularly winning titles. It’s just been awhile. One of the Expos greats was Gary Carter who labored in Quebec for 11 seasons before leaving for New York in 1984.

While the Canadiens are having a year similar to the Sabres, they are managing to teach the Sabres a few things. With Carter’s passing this week, the  Canadiens aren’t showing blooper reels, they did this before today’s game with the Devils.

That’s one of Carter’s Montreal baseball card’s projected on the ice (Photo courtesy of Dave Stubb, Canadiens’ reporter). I didn’t see it but for warmups, the Canadiens players all wore number 8 jerseys with Carter’s name on the back. That is a classy tribute for somebody who hadn’t played in the city in 27 years for a franchise largely unacknowledged while it was there.  This is a verbose wakeup call to the local home town team and primary tenant of the building at One Jim Kelley Way. It seems a little odd that the same folks who thought up the welcome home to all the former Sabres at the end of last year still haven’t figured out a way to acknowledge the presence of the Buffalo Braves as Aud co-tenants all those years. When Marine Midland Arena opened, it was with a lot of pomp and reverence for everything the Aud held, except for the pro basketball team.  The fate of the free world certainly doesn’t hinge on this, but it would be a nice public relations thing to acknowledge the Buffalo Braves time here and especially native son Randy Smith. I’m sure given the economics, a city with the problems Buffalo deals with would have lost the team at some point, but they got taken from us. The Aud was the home to some playoff basketball and I think it would be a smooth move for TPegs and the gang to do something about that oversight.

I remember my son and I got to go to the 40th anniversary and it felt like a cable access show. The Sabres missed some good public relations bonanzas with Ryan Miller’s recent career mark, and the Expos show that even paying respect to the Bills’ Kent Hull wouldn’t have been out of the question.

I remember collecting some of the posters from the Saturday Buffalo Evening News, it would be a good, long overdue gesture, but fix the hockey mess first.

Pitchers and Catchers

Allow me a moment. As the Sabres continue to go from joyous potential to hockey purgatory, (do something Darcy! Do something about Darcy, Ted), the sad passing of Gary Carter made me remember fondly how much fun it was to be a Mets fan in the mid 80s. No sport has the sense of history like Major League Baseball. True, you can catch a multi-inning nap sometimes and not miss a thing, but every once in awhile…

My own affection for the Mets revived for real when they acquired Keith Hernandez in 83. I was a Tom Seaver fan a few years earlier, but this felt like something was happening. The notion that that Strawberry kid might be something. It all felt like something was afoot. I think it was Cary Carter’s first or second game as a Met in 1985 that made you think something was starting. He hit a home run in the 10th to beat the Cardinals that made my crappy black and white tv seem to burst with living color.

(from Rob Neyer at SB Nation)

It was fun. They didn’t win it all that year, but 86 was exciting fun from Opening Day. Lord knows that team (like many others) had its individual demons that were later exposed. But you couldn’t help appreciate the way Carter played, especially after years in Montreal. He was having a blast. The kid nickname was well earned because he really seemed to enjoy it all. I know he got tagged with Camera as he always was in front of one. But I can still remember the series of pitches in the middle innings of Game Six of the 86 World Series where he coaxed Sid Fernandez through a dominating series of pitches, leaving Red Sox hitters flummoxed.

Thanks, it was fun.

MTL to Nwrk, oops, CLEVE to BUFF

You got to suppose this is probably a daily occurance, just that the travel karma gods catch up with everybody and this trip was apparently my turn. When the Zoo marketers conference broke up, we had a few drinks and joked about the impending 7 am shuttle to the airport. The shuttle was great, got us there safe and sound. The departure gates are arranged with all the international flights close up and the US bound flights toward the other end of the terminal. Along with two colleagues who were returning to these shores, I set off in search of the Continental desk.

Found it, no line, sweet!! I dutifully check in, check one bag to ease my load and the three of us repair to have a breakfast denied by the early departure hour of the shuttle. As we are finishing that needed 4th cup of coffee (Shaddup, the cups are small up there!), my phone rings. Given that that is no bargain, I don’t want to answer, but I do and it is Orbtiz, bearing the tidings that my flight from Montreal to Newark has been cancelled.

I weave a quick tapestry of obscenity and head back to the Continental counter after saying hurried goodbyes to my colleagues. I quickly secure a tickets to get to Cleveland and from there, to Buffalo in roughly the same amount of time. I head over to start the process of customs, except my bag that was checked is still thinking it is going to Newark. Being passed from Airport Security to Continental to Airport Baggage Claim BACK to Continental, I am sure I wore a path in the terminal floor worthy of Family Circus.

Good thing the coffee crisp bites were cheap and plentiful after clearing customs. The more airports you see in a given day, they don’t get better looking. I had to laugh when the initial Continental Clerk kept apologizing about Newark (write your own jokes there, I’ve had a long day).

Getting there wasn’t half the fun, and getting home wasn’t the other half.

Le Village Quebecois d’Anton

There, wanted to see I could spell it without looking. The marketing group I’m with took a break from discussions and whatnot for an en mass tour of the aforementioned village.

It is a recreated 19th century farm village halfway between Montreal and Quebec City. Our hosts from the Zoo de Granby arranged for a very nice tour, which led to informal chats prior to dinner.

For dinner, it was culture shock for everybody except the french canadians at the table. The Village put on what they referred to as an Sugar Shack meal, meaning it was similar into scope to what folks ate then before then went to work, or what us marketers would eat before descending into an international food coma.

Sitting with folks from Germany, Austria and exotic Philadelphia, we watched as it kept coming: Crouton, Bread made on the premises, pork and white bean soup, ham, sausage, egg, potatoes, and syrup. Vindication for Buddy the Elf as syrup is indeed a major food group.

It was pretty funny given the reactions and the curiousity from the Europeans, who made me laugh with their assessments of the Canadian beer being offered. You can imagine trying to explain Philly Cheesesteak or our Wings to them.

Properly toured and fed, we were sent back on our bus for the ride back only to have to loop around for our driver to recover his lost coat, which doubled the length of the journey back to Granby.

He reappeared with the jacket and was greeted by some sarcastic cheers.

Sarcasm apparently is universal.

On the Road Again

It’s has been a bit since I’ve traveled for work. After being dispatched previously by employers to such exotic locales as Syracuse, Milwaukee, and other glamour hot spots, venturing to Montreal is an intriguing idea. I am a little concerned as it is for a marketing conference and the idea of 80 people upselling each other over three days might be a little much, but you hope to take away a few bon mots, ideas to steal, and some fun time at the Zoo de Granby.

Trade shows and meetings shared some cliched concepts from icebreakers, plenary sessions and whatnot. It’s the informal things that truly have the merit.

It is a little daunting prepping for the journey when you don’t do it that often. I still feel weird showing up at the airport with my Orbitz printout and the knowledge that that is good to go, but I will be able to tell you all about the Village Quebecois in Drummondville by the end of the week.

I know, you can’t wait that long. Well, too bad, I must turn my fate to United Airlines in the morning so ya’all’s got to wait.


I think it is great that Mark Croce stepped up in the case of the Statler. The Buffalo Businessman has definitely put his money where his mouth is in terms of getting things done in the city. It probably wasn’t the best p.r. to have news of his acquisition of a beautiful mansion in Orchard Park as a second home. Not that I begrudge that mind you, in fact, I’m a bit jealous, but I’m not the one looking for assistance from the City to get the Statler stabilized.

Funny thing about favorite songs, one of mine popped up perfectly on cue after a tough day at the office on Monday. When that happens with just a touch of the key, that is a magical thing. So, of course, all of Delaware Park got to hear it too.

The SabresNathan Gerbe has been on a tear of late and his empty net goal the other night against Montreal was a testimony of effort and passion, that if the rest of the team played like that all year, they wouldn’t be in the boat they are in. Now, the challenge is to give the dude a nickname that doesn’t incorporate any variation of Gerbil.

The Buffalo Common Council has a bill in front of it to give $300,000 to the cultural groups left out of the county funding picture. This seems to me to be a no-brainer as we have a surplus and these groups provide some answers to people asking about life here. The low priority to quality of life issues has always had me curious. Sure, perhaps some of the entities could save adminstrative costs by combing efforts. You could say the same about City Hall. But if you are corporate entity and you are recruiting people to come to your city, you invariably have the conversation about what types of schools there are, what types of things there are to do. I have loved the Sabres from the beginning, but seeing something at the New Phoenix Theater or Hallwells is just as important. Joe Golombek doesn’t want to get into the business of funding the culturals regularly, as the city itself isn’t accustomed to that role. But I think the one thing government does well is collect money and then respend those dollars. Make that our operating principle and maybe stuff would get done more regularly.

An recent article in one of the Detroit papers talked about a companion span to the Ambassador Bridge and took great pains to point out that the discussion about our Peace Bridge is in at least its 17th year and nothing as been accomplished. So the citizens of that area shouldn’t hold their breath, unlike the citizens of the Peace Bridge area who sometimes should.

And the musical pick me up

Video ain’t great, but the audio was glorious noise


Jet-lagged without flying

Yeah, we need those days soon.

The shift to daylight savings time is always abrupt. This thought dawn on me as I looked at 5:15 shining from my alarm clock this morning. Only comparable sensation is the first day on the west coast when your body wakes you up at 4 in the morning, when you still have 3 hours you could be sleeping. Stupid body.

Don’t really have a good Rick Martin story other than getting to watch him play a bunch of times back in the day. For the uninitiated, the 70s were hallowed days for Sabres fans, the novelty of the team, they got so good so fast, a hot ticket for a whole decade. It was like having ten years of 2006. When Martin, Perreault, and Robert got going, the building hummed.

Can still recall the “Who’s on first?” like efforts to explain Hockey to my grandmother. She was up visiting during the Sabres first ever playoff run.  She came away with anybody named Mahovolich being a bad guy as they all played for Montreal (all both of them), but Dryden was okay because Buffalo had one of those.

“But, those boys, those boys right there can skate.”

Indeed they could, but back to the time change. Got an interesting reminder that we aren’t quite out of the weather woods yet. Went to my first Dark Star Orchestra show (and had a blast) and given the venue, it made sense to leave the coat in the car. This didn’t seem like a bad idea as it wasn’t too chilly, until you hit the wind tunnel that is Main Street.

A little wind, a little rain, yeah, I’m ready for Spring.