The Sabres Observer
by @DaveDavisHockey on 03/27/17 at 09:04 AM ET
They've been blamed for the poor atmosphere at KeyBank Center, scorned by fans and even Sabres players for booing, and mocked by many for leaving games early.
As if that isn't enough, now many of them are getting unwarranted flak regarding Saturday night's tilt against Toronto.
It was a great game in front of a packed house. Nearly half in attendance were Leafs fans. It was Hockey Night in Canada, except that it was in Buffalo. There was plenty of blue and white and not as much blue and gold.
The fact that a large number of season ticket holders had the audacity to resell their seats, for enough money in many cases to make a car payment or feed a family of four for a week, did not sit well with the hockey-is-holier-than-thou crew.
There were non-paying Sabres fans spewing venom via twitter from the comfort of their living rooms in front of their televisions. Hard-working fans were being shamed and tagged as money grabbers. It was even suggested that cashing out for this game should be grounds for season ticket account revocation.
This whole act is just ridiculous and deplorable. Being trolled by visiting Leafs fans pales in comparison to all of the garbage criticism that loyal Sabres fans who financially and emotionally support this heartbreaking team have had to put up with year after losing year.
Conform. Stand up and cheer despite your team being doubled in shots and looking lost. Even when the players you paid to see are clearly taking the night off, no booing is permitted. Regardless of when you have to get up in the morning, you stay until the final horn. And don't you dare resell your tickets.
The root of all the nastiness over this weekend's resold seats? It's not crazy to say there's plenty of anger and denial going on right now because of Toronto's sudden success.
Leafs fans invading Buffalo is nothing new, but Saturday's game had extra spice to it. Toronto is good now, while Sabres fans are still waiting for two years of horror watching a team with management that wanted to finish last to pay off.
Die-hard Sabres loyalists hear that Auston Matthews is better than Jack Eichel, and it absolutely drives them crazy. Buffalo gets taunted over being spurned by Mike Babcock and settling for a coach whom many want fired yesterday. Toronto and Buffalo writers put out condescending pieces lecturing the hockey world on how not to implement a rebuild.
All of this, and the team is going on six straight years of no playoffs. The Sabres have a .392 winning percentage at home over the past five seasons. It's all just a bit much.
And what do these unconditionally loving fans get for dishing out over $3000 for a decent pair of upper level season seats? They get chastised for selling tickets to a meaningless game in March. Fellow Sabres fans can't stomach the thought of being laughed at by Buffalo's big brother to the north, so they cannibalize their own by playing judge and jury.
Michael Czerwonka spends about $7500 per year on tickets and says he tries to sell half of the games at his cost. "I offer them to several Sabres fans throughout the year. When I can't, I sell them to brokers and usually lose money", he said. "I laughed out loud when I recognized one of those Sabres fans tweeting that I should lose my ticket rights for selling my tickets."
Brian Koperski is in his tenth season as a season ticket holder. "I sold my tickets to [Saturday] night's game and have no shame in admitting it", he said. "While I realize I am probably contributing to [Leafs fans'] attendance by selling my tickets, it is simply not worth the headache in my opinion when we are going to miss the playoffs for the sixth straight season. I'll tell you though, if the Sabres had been in a playoff position going into that game, there is zero chance I sell my tickets."
Frank Iafallo points out that this game was a rare opportunity. "Definitely sold my tickets", he said. "First night all year that I got decent money for my seats."
First year season ticket holder Jeff Ryan: "It's a lot of money to shell out, and realistically, I can't be going to every game. With the way the team is playing right now, when I sell my tickets for the games I can't go to, or don't want to go to, it's been nearly impossible to get face value for them. Because of that, I really need to make some money back where I can, and, unfortunately, the Toronto games are one of the best ways to do that."
Twitter follower and reader "Boush" is also a new season ticket holder as of this year. "Lack of the possibility of playoffs makes the game a whole lot less exciting from my perspective", he said. "I was able to sell two 300 level tickets for $100 each. That's helping me recover quite a bit of the money. I think the argument that you're 'selling out' by selling to Leafs fans is utter nonsense."
What's really short-sighted, about the notion that fans like these shouldn't buy season tickets if they can't or won't pay for all of the games, is that the system has been specifically designed to help them achieve exactly what they're doing.
The Sabres are one of only three NHL teams (the others are the Flyers and Kings) with a partnership arrangement with Stubhub where fans can enter barcodes directly off their tickets to fulfill orders. And, while it's not quite as quick or easy, fans of every other team are able to resell seats to reduce their season cost either by uploading them digitally or shipping hard tickets.
The whole system has been set up with the specific purpose of easing the monetary burden for fans while allowing them to enjoy the pride of being season ticket holders. Why in the world would a financially responsible family not take advantage of it?
The treatment of Sabres fans who make the biggest investment in the team has been irritating bordering on disgusting. In a decade full of ugly losses, boring hockey and intentionally watered-down rosters, the last thing they need is a lecture on how to be fans or what to do with their own property.
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About The Sabres Observer
Dave Davis has covered the Buffalo Sabres for various NHL accredited websites and newspapers since 2003. He was the senior writer and Sabres correspondent for The Fourth Period, covered hockey for Western New York Sports and Leisure Magazine, and has had articles featured on NHL.com, FOX Sports, Yahoo Sports and in New York Sportscene. Sabres news and notes can be found on his Twitter page.
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter: [@DaveDavisHockey]