RULES OF THE ROAD
I’ve been with the Sabres for three seasons now, and I can’t count the number of times people make the comment “that is so cool” or “you’re so lucky.” They’re right. Working for an NHL franchise is a unique opportunity that only a few may get the chance to have. What has made this experience better is the fact that I am from the area (Crystal Beach, Ont.) and grew up a Sabres fan.
Since the change in ownership, an emphasis has been placed on new media and making this website a place for all Sabres information. For that to happen, the road games needed a voice and I raised my hand for the opportunity. However I am constantly asked what I saw, what I did and where did I go when I was on the road -- sometimes more than I am asked about the team. Rather than crank out another typical practice blog, I thought I would give you an insight into what life on the road with the team is. I’ll use last Saturday's game in Pittsburgh as an example.
|Press Box @ the Consol Energy Center
Following the home opener against Carolina on Friday, I drove directly from First Niagara Center to the airport and hopped the team charter to Pittsburgh. Our short flight landed roughly a little after Midnight. From there it was a bus ride to a downtown Pittsburgh hotel, where I got online and posted the information from Friday night's game. Since I had been awake since 7 a.m. prepping for the home opener, I passed out pretty quickly. The next morning I woke up again around 7 a.m. and prepped Sabres.com for that night's game, making sure all the necessary information was online and ready for the fans. Then it was on to a bus and over to the Consol Energy Center for an 11:30 a.m. morning skate, where a couple of quick interviews later, I was back on the bus, back to the hotel and back in my room editing audio files, writing a blog and uploading video files to Sabres TV. By this point it’s around 3 p.m. and I was starved.
|Genoa Salami w/Peppers & Onions|
After a quick lunch at Primanti Bros. (if there is such a thing) and a walk back to the hotel, I was back on the bus and heading to the arena to prep for the game itself. I found my press box seat and double-checked that all information for that game was online. It’s around 6 p.m. at this point so I grabbed a coffee and settled in for the game.
(Check out the AFTERMATH of that game for my take on that.)
As the game is ending, I start to run across the press box and down to the locker room for more audio clips and interviews. From there it’s back on the bus, over to the airport and a 45-minute flight back to Buffalo. Around 1:30 a.m., I stroll through my door, inevitably waking my dog up who decides he wants to play. I grab a frosty beverage from my fridge and hop back online to post the plethora of information that I have compiled, finishing up around 2:15 a.m., and promptly asleep.
I had a pleasant Sunday (up until the Bills lost) relaxing with my dog, and getting everything packed up since I was flying out the next day at 3 p.m. for the three-game road trip that started in Montreal.
|My Basset Hound Mush|
Throughout the course of the game day, I had about two hours to myself where hockey wasn’t consuming my thoughts. I’m not complaining that this is a hard life, but it is far from easy. For all those asking their questions of what did you see and what did you do, the answer is usually: a hotel room, a rink, a locker room and the inside of a plane. Workdays of 15-18 hours are pretty much a given 82 times a year (but the preseason is a lot easier). A strict diet of black coffee and sarcasm holds you in check, while battles with local media, PR representatives, and wireless internet snafus are bound to happen throughout my day.
Could I trade this all in for a cushy 9-5 job, running websites and systems for different company? Absolutely. Would I? Not a chance.
This was the first time in my four years with the Sabres that I have written something this off-the-cuff and non-hockey. I had the opportunity to go to the NHL Premiere Series as well as this current road trip to Montreal, Ft. Lauderdale and Tampa Bay. I wanted to shed a bit of light on the other side of things.
If you want to hear about any of those trips in a non-hockey sense, drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’ll be more than happy to write about those.
The team skated at the Ice Sports Forum without forwards Paul Gaustad and Drew Stafford. Gaustad suffered a hip flexor in last night’s game against the Florida Panthers and Stafford sat out with an undisclosed injury. Head coach Lindy Ruff commented that both players were given a maintenance day but there shouldn’t be any issues with them for tomorrow night’s game.
Jochen Hecht returned to the ice after taking yesterday off. Ruff said while he isn’t ready to play just yet, he is getting pretty close. With the truncated list of forwards on the ice, Hecht was on a line with Matt Ellis and Cody McCormick. Brad Boyes moved up the depth chart for the day playing wing along side Derek Roy and Tyler Ennis while Ville Leino found himself playing alongside Nathan Gerbe and Patrick Kaleta.
Buffalo takes on Tampa Bay tomorrow night at 7 pm. Make sure to tune into MSG at 6:30 p.m. for Tops Game Night, the official pregame show of the Sabres.
The Sabres head into the St. Pete Times Forum on Saturday looking to complete the ninth "Sunshine Sweep" in franchise history. Since 1993, the Sabres have made 26 trips to Florida for back-to-back games against the Lightning and Panthers. They’ve swept eight of them, including five of the last eight trips. There have also been 11 splits, and they have been swept just four times. Two other sets ended in win/tie, with another finishing loss/tie.