Buffalo Sabres team president Ted Black got into a heated discussion with Mike Harrington, Jerry Sullivan and other members of the Buffalo sports media at the team’s end-of-the-season press conference on Monday. Reporters pressed Black about why the team was hiking ticket prices, retaining general manager Darcy Regier and not providing greater access to Terry Pegula, the franchise’s billionaire owner. It was, perhaps, the most entertainment the team provided this season.
This presser is better than, what, 45 of the 48 games this season?
— Trending Buffalo (@TrendingBuffalo) April 29, 2013
The Sabres missed the NHL playoffs for the second consecutive year in 2013, the fourth time in six seasons they’ve not qualified for the post-season. The team’s fans certainly didn’t think the franchise was headed in this direction when natural gas drilling-magnate Pegula bought the Sabres in 2011. After the team fired 16-year head coach Lindy Ruff in February, more heads were expected to roll, perhaps at Monday’s press conference.
Instead the Sabres raised ticket prices — with the hike notice arriving to fans on “Fan Appreciation Day” — and retained GM Regier, who predicted “suffering” for the fans of Buffalo at the press conference.
#Sabres Darcy Regier says future au require some suffering” from fans.
— Bill Hoppe (@BillHoppeNHL) April 29, 2013
Members of the press grilled Black about whether the team believes it has a captive audience; on hiking ticket prices given Pegula’s wealth and about keeping Regier despite the team’s poor performance. When Sabres’ beat writer Harrington of the Buffalo News pressed Black about granting access to interview Pegula on matters like Ruff’s firing, voices were raised and even Buffalo News-owner Warren Buffett’s name was invoked. Listen to the audio clip below:
Black apologized at the end for suggesting Sullivan and Harrington were biased.
[h/t: Ice Chips for the audio]