The Buffalo Sabres aren't having a year end press conference. That on the surface might not be all that surprising, but slightly odd. Almost all teams put their general manager and coach in front of the media so the media has a chance to get their final questions in about what happened last season and the plans for next season. Instead of going the traditional route, Black decided to take phone calls on the Sabres' flagship station and answer questions directly from the fans.
This did not sit well with the lone newspaper in Buffalo. The media members, well Mike Harrington, went on the offensive, (warning, Buffalo News video chat link)
All of this comes after Ted Black went to the Associated Press with the affirmation that Darcy Regier and Lindy Ruff would be coming back to the team. Terry Pegula made a statement to ESPN about the Penn State situation before going to the News as well. The Sabres are trying to control the message as much as they can. It is not a coincidence that the News is getting shut out of many of the statements after Terry Pegula was critical of the newspaper's handling of the team when he took over the team.
Mike is right though, having a press conference would give the outlets that regularly serve the team a chance to have finality on the season. That includes the bloggers who get the chance to head down there as well. But, publicly complaining about the lack of a press conference just makes the news outlet look petty and entitled.
This whole situation turned into a major pissing match between the newspaper and the radio guys with the fans pretty much caught in the middle. The pissing matches have escalated over the last week, with arguments happening over all sorts of aspects of the Sabres. At one end of the spectrum, we have the radio outlet that is going to get certain access because of their status as the flagship station for the Sabres. There is a certain line that they won't cross for fear of losing their radio rights on top of their access to the team. On the other end, there is the Buffalo News, the lone newspaper in town, and their insistence to spin the story to fit their agenda whatever it may be.
What does this all mean for fans? It shows the glaring need for more major media outlets in Buffalo. Bill Hoppe does good work for the Niagara Gazette and Olean Times Herald, but there really is only one major newspaper in Buffalo and they drive many of the conversations about the team. If fans don't want to go the newspaper route, they turn to the lone radio station in town to talk about the team. Local television is starting to cut their sports departments beyond recognition so they are becoming less and less of a factor in how the team is covered. There are plenty of good fan sites, or bloggers but I tend to despise that term more and more, but their access to the team is cut off at the knees by the organization. The inroads that the organization made this season was a good start, but it is no where near where it is with other organizations have done with their credentials with bloggers.
The Sabres are trying to control the message as well as they can and the media is getting their gripes in about how it affects them. All in all, the fans suffer as they have to sit through the whining without any real results.