Details are slowly leaking out regarding the Buffalo Sabres’ 50th anniversary celebration as we creep closer to October. The team appears to have a full slate of celebrations in store for the 50th anniversary and that got my gears turning.
Everything that’s come out so far seems pretty great. A fan fest will return for the first time in a number of years, accompanied by a 5K run. Season ticket holders will receive a handful of additional bonuses, in addition to a commemorative ticket set (more on that later). The team also announced that they will celebrate something referred to as a Journey Through the Decades. Given the set of era-specific 50th anniversary logos that we released, I think it’s safe to assume we’ll get to see jerseys from each era of the team during warm ups on select nights. They’ve also announced a captain’s celebration for the home opener and Founder’s Night for December 2nd.
That seems like just the tip of the iceberg for the team’s anniversary season as we’ve yet to officially see the alternate uniform they’ll wear for select nights, nor have we gotten a glimpse at a promotional schedule with additional giveaways. With that in mind, it appears as if the Sabres are set to devote a lot of time and enerfy to making the 50th season memorable (hopefully the on-ice product cooperates).
Given that a promotional schedule hasn’t been released, I’ll be making some wild guesses, but it wouldn’t be a Two in the Box without wildly speculating giveaways or promotions the team could or should try out. I have a handful of ideas listed below of items I’d love to see incorporated as part of the 50th season – whether via giveaway or for sale in the Sabres Store.
First, a note on the the jerseys and the commemorative tickets. We haven’t seen anything else about the tickets just yet, but I’m extremely hopeful they resemble what the Maple Leafs did for their centennial in 2017. I’m not a season ticket holder, so there’s little chance I benefit from a collection of artwork like the Leafs 100th offered, but it would be a tremendous piece to pass on for this year’s events. I’m unsure if the Leafs offered any of the artwork to be sold in their retail stores, but it would be clever of the Sabres to also print some of the tickets in poster form. It would be a cool touch for the Sabres to offer up as the season progresses.
As for the jerseys, the leak a couple of weeks ago gave us a pretty good look at what the third jersey will look like, albeit in a low quality image. I’ll hold off on passing full judgement until an official unveiling takes place because I have a feeling we’re going to see some cool features like chain stitching on the crest that might make the jersey pop more than the leaked photo did. But my first impression of it was pretty good! The stripes were weird, but the overall look is pretty solid. Vegas gold plays well with navy blue so I think the final product will be pretty good. Barring an 11th hour surprise, the Sabres probably won’t have any other special edition jerseys to wear for games this season and the home and away jerseys aren’t changing. So don’t get your hopes up for royal blue. But it’s my expectation that the different “Journey Through the Decades” games will feature the team wearing throwback jerseys during warmups. So we’ll get to see the original royal blue, the goathead and even the slug during the course of the year. So if you’re itching for some jersey nostalgia, that ought to help.
Now for a few other ideas you won’t care all that much about.
During the Blues’ 50th celebration in 2017 they had three heritage giveaways that went to everyone in attendance each night. They were some of the coolest things I’ve ever seen as the Hull and Oates, goalies and captains canvases were high quality and very attractive.
Perhaps offering up prints of the season ticket artwork would do the trick, but either via giveaway or in the Sabres Store, a line of historic Sabres artwork would be an incredible addition. Take your pick on the themes, but the Sabres aren’t short on unique history or big name talent. They could come up with a pretty terrific collection of art if they so chose:
- French Connection
- Goalies through the years
- Hasek Standalone
- LaFontaine & Mogilny
- Taro Tsujimoto
- OT Goals
That list could go about 30 deep if you really wanted it to. But I can say now, if the Sabres produced some sort of run of lithographs or other type of artwork centered around the 50th anniversary and the team’s history, I’d be on board for the full run.
A few years back the Anaheim Ducks offered up a set of mini jerseys to help entice people into buying certain ticket packs. Other teams have used these as giveaways and I think they’d be an excellent piece to accompany the Journey Through the Decades games.
The nice thing about the mini jerseys is that they’re goofy enough tchotchkes that you won’t take them too seriously, but they’re cool enough that you’d feel good about putting them on your desk at work or with your other memorabilia at home. It would be cool to have a Danny Gare and Jim Schoenfeld jersey waiting for fans ahead of the 70s night games (depending on how many they do), Hasek and Peca goatheads, Drury and Briere slugs, Eichel and Dahlin in the cunew alternates. It would be a cool little collection for people to take home from those era-specific nights and something a little more unique when it comes to a gameday giveaway.
Mini Goalie Masks
This is an idea I’ve harped on before, but I’ll resurrect it for this year. This would be best served as a Sabres Store exclusive that fans could buy on a limited run. EA Sports and Pinnacle did a run of masks back in the late 90s that were about 1/3 scale which would make for an excellent template for the Sabres to follow.
Pick a handful of iconic masks from team history (handy list in the link above) and charge like $50 for a limited run of 1,000 of each mask. Between goalie nerds like me and general memorabilia collectors, I think they’d have a winner here.
I think it’s a safe bet that we get at least one bobblehead again this season. I’m betting on Perreault or the Fench Connection as a whole. But it would be pretty cool if the team decided to do a few bobbleheads throughout the year. Pick from anyone you choose, they’ll probably be pretty fun to get down to a game to collect.
Oxford Pennant Collaboration
This might be a little more ambitious than any of the other pipe dreams listed above, but Oxford Pennant has long proven their abilities in producing incredible artwork on pennants, banners and other items. The Sabres have never been shy about linking up with local companies and Oxford Pennant seems like too good a fit for this year’s festivities.
Their products have a vintage look and feel and they could roll out a truly incredible line of products for the 50th anniversary that just about any fan would kill for. Letting Oxford Pennant get their hands dirty with the original royal blue color scheme, the red and black era and some of the iconic calls and events from team history could result in a truly incredible line of merchandise. Just think about hanging up a pair of pennants commemorating May Day or Scary Good in addition to a 50th anniversary banner. The only problem would be getting them before they ran out, I can’t imagine a Sabres/Oxford Pennant collaboration would last on the shelves for very long.