Off the Record: Disappointing change to blog summit hurts the event

It’s been nearly five years since I decided to start this little boondoggle called Two in the Box. I had spent a month blogging about my time at the Vancouver Olympics and I decided it was a good time and that I’d continue the fun when I got home.

My time as a venomous, small time, basement brigadier has given me the chance to keep writing on a semi-regular basis about a topic that is near and dear to my heart. It’s been fun and it’s even given me the chance to take on some cool opportunities. One of those opportunities is the ability to receive a press pass at Sabres home games. Another is access into the back room of Willy Wonka’s Factory – aka, the Sabres front office.

The Sabres have been running blog summits with slightly more regularity than my writing schedule over the past few years. I’ve personally made it to four or five of the meet ups and they’ve all featured their own level of intrigue for me.

My first Sabres Blog Summit occurred in the media room in press conference fashion with the Sabres PR and marketing teams on hand. Ted Black was the guest of honor and he sat at the front of the room, took our questions and answered them earnestly. Whether it was a question about the chances of starting a regional sports network, the return of the Frozen Four or the makeup of the roster, he addressed everything we asked with quality information. We all reported on the process and it was massively successful.

What I took away from the summits featuring Black was the positive discourse and his willingness to answer each question to the best of his ability. Hell, he all but confirmed that the Sabres were going to retire Dominik Hasek’s number once he was retired at a previous summit. Those encounters with Black as the MC not only gave us a chance to voice our opinions but to get answers and report back on them. It was a terrific practice that was unique in many ways.

Somewhere along the lines all of that changed. Continue reading

The Instigator Podcast 3.1 – Changing of the Seasons

Eric and I are back for season three of The Instigator Podcast. We wrap up the Sabres Blogger Summit that was held last night, chat about the roster for the upcoming season and play plus/minus with the candidates to wear the Sabres’ “C”.

The Instigator Podcast 1.14 – Summit Hangover

Since there were many interesting reactions and opinions on what took place in the aftermath of last week’s blog summit, Eric and I tackle a few topics on the “obligations” of bloggers and what should be expected from those who reside in the basement.

We also run down a few points on the NHL awards which go down tomorrow night.

Feel free to leave comments and criticism here or on @3rdManIn or @2ITB_Buffalo.

Reflections from the Basement Party: Sabres are a major player in social media

There is no point in offering a full recap of last night’s blog summit. There were 16 participants there and I’m certain that the other 15 in attendance are fully capable of offering a full and unique recap of the proceedings.

I want to take a moment to go over something that struck me as truly unique. Not only did the Sabres again open their arms to a community of people who are generally looked at as nerds who reside in their mother’s basement, but they added in yet another wrinkle than they had previously.

Last night’s summit was not only another opportunity for those outside of the traditional media to receive an audience with the team president, it was another step forward for those in the community. Five blogs will be given locker room access for the 2012-13 NHL season due to their continued presence in the press box last season and what would appear to be an appreciation, from the Sabres, as to the quality of the work they did. For the record, those blogs will be 3rd Man In, Buffalo Wins, Die By The Blade, Queen City Sports and Sabres Hockey Central.

What really struck me as special was the fact that the Sabres used a brand-new forum to make a major announcement regarding the team for the upcoming year. The summit was an event designed to bring a number of Sabres blogs together in a forum for discussion on the team. While it was certainly formatted just like a press conference, it was also a forum which has its root firmly planted in social media. What the Sabres did, was use a social media based group of people to launch an announcement for the upcoming season.

I cannot think of a time that a team in the NHL, or any major sport, has taken a new release to social media before providing the information to any other news outlet. This certainly wasn’t an exclusive for the blogging community, so don’t mistake that part, but this was certainly a step towards a new frontier for the Sabres.

Obviously this was a great way to tie in their new social media site, the ICE Network, and that may have been additional motivation for the way in which this news was announced. Regardless, the Sabres are definitely taking a step towards a new way of doing business. Continue reading

Reflections from the Basement Party: The Sabres and the Webster Block

With only a few days remaining until the City of Buffalo awards the winning bid to those who put in an RFP for the Webster Block, it seems as if the Buffalo Sabres are hoping for another off ice victory.

While Ted Black didn’t show his hand during yesterday’s New Media Summit, he certainly indicated that the Sabres do have a vested interest in the development of the area right outside their front door. After briefly discussing Terry Pegula’s $120,000 gift to complete the lawns at Canalside, Black pointed to the organization’s interest in potentially being involved in developing the Webster Block.

There have been plenty of rumors floating around the internet about what the Sabres may be doing down near the arena, but this certainly backs up what had originally been reported by the News and Business First. With the RFP slated to be announced on the 15th, I expect the Sabres will be holding their breath in hopes of having the winning bid.

Personally, I would imagine that Pegula’s donation was done as a first step of the Sabres’ full interest in that part of the neighborhood. I would imagine that the Sabres have to be the front runner for this RFP simply because I would imagine their proposed project would offer the most return for the neighborhood and city as a whole.

One other thing that was brought up by Black and the Sabres is their involvement in potentially earning the right to host NHL events like the Draft or an All-Star Game. He made a comment that not only pointed to their interest and influence (whether direct or indirect) in the area around the arena.

When addressing the Sabres’ interest in these special events, Black made an indirect reference to some comments made by Emerson Etem and European reporters who made disparaging comments about the city and the lack of activities. Black said that the team and city want to make sure they’re putting their best foot forward and leaving visitors with the best opinion of Buffalo possible. He then said that having a large construction pit right outside the arena would not be ideal, especially if an All-Star Game is on the way.

Based on the conversation with Black, the next possible All-Star Game the Sabres will make a run at will be in 2015, giving three more years for Canalside, the Webster Block and the Donovan Building to be built out and develop. From where I’m sitting Black and Pegula are fully aware of how difficult it is to get anything done by the water and they don’t want the same embarrassment that was suffered during the World Junior Tournament.

While the forum in which Black’s statements were given may not get the most publicity, they should certainly carry a lot of weight to those who make decisions in Buffalo. Continue reading

The Instigator Podcast 1.13 – Basement Party

After taking in the third Sabres Blog Summit, Eric and I broke down a few of the finer points of the evening’s festivities. For the first time in a while we did not play plus/minus, so we will bring that back next time.

Editor note, the din you hear in the background are the soothing play-by-play tones of Pat Malacaro at the Bisons game.

Big changes in store for 2012-13 Sabres season

Ted Black certainly knows how to open. The third #BasementBrigade blog summit had a very interesting start with Black breaking the news on a number of very interesting pieces of information pertaining to a number of media-related additions for the 2012-13 Buffalo Sabres season.

The bombshell came with the announcement that the Sabres will lead the charge for a new two-hour radio show called Sabres Hockey Hotline airing on WGR at 10:00 am Monday through Friday. This is a year-round show which means that Colin Cowherd will no longer be heard on Buffalo’s air waves. Thank God.

From the Sabres:

We are very excited to add yet another platform for our fans to get original Sabres content,” said Buffalo Sabres President Ted Black. “Sabres Hockey Hotline will give fans an additional 350+ hours of Sabres programming each year that we know fans will love. It’s an ambitious undertaking for our organization and that’s why we put Kevin in charge of producing and hosting the show. He brings an important level of experience and passion for Sabres hockey that will make the show a great success. Continue reading

The Instigator Podcast 1.12 – Golden Ticket

Eric and I are back in action with another Instigator Podcast. Before delving into our thoughts on the 2012 Stanley Cup Finals, we have a brief chat about the upcoming Sabres New Media Summit (aka the Basement Brigade Summit).

Of course, we play plus/minus with a special Stanley Cup Final spin and look forward to adding some guests to the program for some coming episodes, yet again.

The Instigator Podcast 1.2 – Summit and Struggles

After a brief layoff, Eric (of 3rd Man In) and I are back for the second edition of The Instigator Podcast. Episode two offers a look at what we thought of last week’s Sabres Blogger Summit. We offer a brief recap and a few thoughts on a couple of specifics that came up throughout the Summit. In addition, we give a couple additional thoughts on the team’s struggles and where they seem to be heading. As always, comments and criticism are welcome.


Reflecting on the Sabres Summit

There is little doubt the Sabres Summit was a success. It served as a forum for Sabres bloggers to have their voice heard by the Sabres organization. Specifically, their voice was heard by team President Ted Black.

Of the topics I had pegged to bring up, a few were covered by my fellow bloggers, as I expected. However, I had two topics that I wanted to make sure I brought up. The first being the potential re-use for the empty Backstage Club/former Ira Ross Aerospace Museum. The second topic was about the potential return of the Frozen Four and re-implementing the Punch Imlach Hockey Showcase.

The space that was previously used by the Ira Ross Aerospace Museum is situated along the side of FNC, behind the Sabres Store and below the Harbor Club. While the arena renovations were being completed, this housed the Sabres gym equipment. Now it lies vacant, waiting for a new use.

Black noted that the space is 12,000 square feet, there is little space to utilize it as a restaurant due to the store and other neighboring rooms. However, he also pointed out that he has a secret plan for the space that he doesn’t yet wish to reveal. My hope is that his idea is for a Sabres Hall of Fame.

I was unfortunately unable to follow-up my original question with my thoughts on establishing a Hall of Fame in that space. Black also mentioned the terrible location for the entrance to that part of the building. Certainly an avenue for access through the arena could be established, particularly for an attraction like that. Black also mentioned that the idea of building vertically into the Harbor Club could be a possibility. It could also offer a secondary source of access.

Not to harp on the idea, as I have detailed most of my thoughts previously, but I think the potential is there to take advantage of the trajectory that Canalside is taking along with the potential connection of the harbor bridge in the near future.

One other idea I did mention with regards to Canalside was for the Sabres to be part of a project to build a Sabres-centric bar. Just like HockeyTown in Detroit, just with a bit more of Pegula’s or the organization’s influence. Continue reading