I remain fascinated with the ongoing conversation about Ryan Miller’s value. I’m getting a lot of email from some really smart people who are trying to figure out what the Sabres’ best course of action is, and I’m engaging with some of these people privately. But I also think that of late it’s just about the only Sabres-related thing I’ve been talking about.
Did you hear that they’re getting a new owner?
I took some time today to think about what job with the Sabres I’d most like to have. Anyone can do this. Imagine Terry Pegula were your friend, and you wanted to work there for him. What would you want to do?
I’ve made a list of the Top 6 Sabres jobs I’d love to have -- salary and qualifications notwithstanding. This is merely: What do I think would be the most fun to do over there?
6. PA Announcer. I’d love to be able to do this job my way, although almost no sports teams do it that way anymore. That’s to simply speak the names clearly and properly, with no mind to trying to pump up fans. Let the game do that. I miss the days of Milt Ellis, Harvey Wittenberg (Chicago Stadium) and Paul Morris (Maple Leaf Gardens). When I was a kid, I knew their names. I idolized them. I think watching games at the Montreal Forum, where the PA guy spoke in two languages, is why in school I chose to learn French over Spanish.
These men were part of the ambience in those cities. Now, everybody pretty much sounds the same. I think it’s because they’re all yelling.
Funny, fans in those great old buildings seemed to enjoy themselves just fine. And there weren’t even Jumbotrons.
5. Usher. I think this would be a great job to have. You’d get to meet fans, the majority of whom would be great. You’d get to build relationships with people. The few ushers that I know at the arena are people I really like. I also like the idea of taking fans who are swearing or being especially obnoxious and showing them the door. That should never be tolerated. Plus, I think having a uniform like the ushers do (red coats) would create a sense of belonging and importance that I bet is really nice for those people.
I’m not sure I need to be the owner’s friend to be an usher, but I like the idea of this job anyway.
4. Arena Manager. Goodbye, pink walls. Maybe I’d change the color of certain seats. Or have a section with a formal dress code.
It’s 2011 -- there should be some interactive displays in the concourses, not just giant artsy pictures of players. Let’s have an trivia display. A screen where I can see myself in a Sabres uniform, something kids may like to do. Have a place where out-of-town games can be watched, outside of the Harbour Club bar. I want HSBC Arena to feel like a major-league sports venue, a destination. Does it?
3. Music Director. Who wouldn’t love control over the music played at games? I would, although my taste in music might be a little bit too mellow for hockey crowds.
2. Vice President of Making Sure Stupid Mistakes Aren’t Made. When I go to the HSBC Arena and see Islanders-Sabres on the out-of-town scoreboard, I want to bury my face in my hands and scream. Come to think of it, Sunday I did that. I think it’s incredible that the universally maligned logo the Sabres just retired still appears anywhere in that building, let alone on the scoreboard and in giant form in the concourses. One player this year had his name spelled wrong on his jersey for multiple games. Another had a nameplate with a different font used on last year’s jerseys stuck on his uniform this year. To call the Sabres sloppy in this area is being kind.
In all seriousness, the Sabres need someone good in a job like this very badly. I sincerely hope Pegula is like-minded.
1. General Manager. I’m a control guy, and there’s a good amount in this job. What fan wouldn’t love to find out if he could be a good GM? I think I’d be a terrible scout, having never played hockey at a high level. I wouldn’t be able to find key traits in players that the other GMs wouldn’t see.
But I would love to put some theories into play. I’d build a couple of four-day vacations into every player’s season, to help keep them happy and fresh. I’d want to do things like that to make the players feel like Buffalo is a special place to play. I’d go to the league meetings with big ideas, and I’d use the media to influence people that serious changes are needed in this game, changes that would make hockey more entertaining. I’d want everyone to think winning a Stanley Cup is the team’s goal, and that it’s a serious one.
And as for my roster, I’d have a team with 3-4 players comprising around 35 percent of my budget and the rest of my guys nearer the low end. None of my stars would be a goalie. Not in this day and age when the goalies are all so good. Doesn’t make sense.
And here we are again.