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The Sabres Observer

The Key To Russ Brandon’s Success

Russ Brandon would be more than willing to scream at the top of his lungs from the 38th row in the upper deck at Ralph Wilson Stadium about the trials and tribulations of maintaining the viability of an NFL franchise in a small market like Buffalo.

He's talked about the importance of regionalization as if it were a lifeline. There were times, to be blunt, when he implicitly lamented about the need for patience and more support from Bills fans.

But Brandon, who yesterday was named president of the Sabres, is too intelligent of a man not to be well aware of the obvious number one determining factor -- past, present and future -- in his success or failure.


Think about it. After all of the fierce marketing efforts and initiatives that were implemented by Brandon, why did the Bills have fewer season ticket holders seven years after he was hired for his first high-level executive position with the team in 2006?

Do you think seven straight losing seasons may have had something to do with it?

Funny how, back in the day when the Bills weren't miserable to watch year after year, the team pretty much marketed itself.

When Mario Williams signed, 1600 season tickets (filed under "anticipation of winning") were added within 3 days. When the Bills had their first winning season in ten years and hired Rex Ryan, sales records were broken. You get the idea.

Now, the Syracuse native is taking over the business operations of the Sabres in what is another step towards owner Terry Pegula's vision of a consolidated marketing component for his two prized possessions.

The decision to merge such functions and processes shouldn't be the least bit surprising. This is the kind of stuff that billionaire business owners and boards of directors do every day.

But synergy between the football and hockey teams or not, Buffalo will need to do well on the ice for things to work out. The good news is Brandon won't have a direct impact on how many games the Sabres win -- assuming he doesn't do something desperate like move some of their home games to a neutral site.

However, his performance will be a determining factor in their financial success. The Sabres are bringing in a man with a reputation for the ability to form strategic alliances and solidify relationships with sponsors and business leaders.

That may not sound sexy to the diehards in section 327, but it's kind of a big deal. Sales is the fuel that powers the car. But whether Brandon is going on a full tank or running on fumes will depend in large part on guys like Jack Eichel and Tim Murray.

An interesting subplot in all of this will be how Brandon is perceived in the hockey side of town.

Say what you will about Ted Black, but his relationship overall with Sabres fans was solid. He was approachable and accountable. I'd go so far as to say many admired him for his honesty and willingness to be the spokesman for an owner who has had a strained relationship with the media.

How will Brandon react if the Sabres don't turn things around on the ice? If at some point there's an erosion in their season ticket base, will we get corporate speak about the challenges he faces to "move inventory" like he gave us with the Bills? Because that would not go over well.

Not that he should care what I think, but I have two pieces of advice for the new Sabres president.

First off, never take Sabres fans for granted. If you shoot straight with us then everything should be fine. We don't need your email address or a suggestion box on the team website, but we demand honesty and sincerity.

Almost forgot the other and more important thing. Get on your knees and pray that the general manager did a good job with the rebuild. It will make your job much easier.


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  Tags: "russ+brandon"+sabres


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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.

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Email: dd@kuklaskorner.com Twitter: [@DaveDavisHockey]