Earlier today we linked to a chat that Sabres president Ted Black had with over 500 fans on Sabres.com, and the chat turned out to be a pretty entertaining read that offered a glimpse into both the team's future plans and the type of person Ted Black is (spoiler alert: he's awesome.)
Black's marathon chat, which lasted for more than three hours and included thousands of questions asked, started with mostly business-type questions about the organization. Black stated right away that the team has received over 10,000 suggestions into their online suggestion box, and will gather the top 10 most common or so into a list that both he and Terry Pegula will address.
The chat quickly turned to the team's future plans, with Black confirming the following offseason happenings:
- The team will paint the "rose colored" walls in the lower bowl, but he didn't say which color.
- The slug will be taken off the scoreboard, and they team is considering some sort of fun "Slug Appreciation Day" for that event. He did not mention whether this would involve the proposed jersey trade-in/discount program.
- The locker room, fitness, and player facilities will be renovated. The team has sent representatives to at least one other franchise (Vancouver) to scout their facilities.
- The team is looking to upgrade its ice-making/keeping equipment for a better playing surface.
- There will be no changes to the primary or third jerseys for next year.
Black also commented on many things the team is considering for next year, including the return of Tux & Pucks on New Year's Eve, some sort of summer carnival, increased arena access for disabled fans, increasing the number of Road Crew events, additional amenities to season ticket holders, retiring the number of a certain goalie, and using Ice Girls/Sabrettes, though he mentioned this was a very hot button topic. In addition, he mentioned that the team is planning on getting a "super-slo motion camera" in time for the playoffs.
After responding in a very PC way to string of suggestions, Black offered this gem: "Hey, we've only been at this job for five weeks." Sure seems like longer with the amount of change both he and Terry Pegula have brought about.
At the halfway point of the chat, most of organizational questions had already been asked and Black fielded about an hour and a half's worth of personal, silly, and funny questions and we got to learn a little bit more about him and the Pegula family.
First of all, nobody should be questioning the management's commitment to Buffalo -- Black was responding from the HSBC conference room with Mr. and Mrs. Pegula in attendence, and answered three hours worth of questions while they all watched the Carolina-Detroit game and ordered takeout from Chef's.
Oh, and Black is still living out of a hotel.
We also learned that the prez has a good sense of humor when he responded to a few questions with a "Wedding Crashers" reference (MA! THE MEATLOAF!) and a Chuck Norris joke about the owner ("Terry doesn't do pushups -- he pulls the world to his chest.") He was also a good sport about the typical end-of-chat questions and people badgering him to get their question answered.
Other things we learned about management include these fun facts:
- Terry Pegula has been backstage at an REO Speedwagon concert.
- Ted Black shaves with Edge Pro Gel and prefers Peter Griffin over Homer Simpson.
- Mr. Black also promised to grow a playoff beard if Pegula agrees to grow one as well.
- Mrs. Pegula's favorite player is Pat LaFontaine.
- Black reads HFBoards and "other sites" to get a sense of what fans are thinking.
- Ted Black once took a sumo suit from the Penguins arena home with him for Halloween in order to trick-or-treat for beer in his neighborhood.
All in all, it was an enlightening, entertaining chat and a refreshingly honest window into what types of people are running the organization and how they're planning on running it. Hit up the comments if you think we missed anything important (because there's only so many times I can reread a three-hour chat.)