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Artvoice Weekly Edition » Issue v5n50 (12/14/2006) » Last Minute Holiday Gift Guide

I Want My Sabres Jersey

Maybe it’s the team’s hot start this season. Or the return to the blue and gold. Or the debate and controversy on what some called the “Buff-a-Slug” logo. Then again it could be that the new unis, complete with a number on the front left breast, look just so cool.

Whatever it is, Sabres logo apparel and souvenir merchandise is hot. So hot that sales and demand are shattering even the rosiest of expectations when the team unveiled its new look this summer.

Michael O’Hara is the head of retail operations for Western New York-based Laux Sporting Goods, and says that he has never seen anything like this. “I’ve been with Laux since 1979, and the sales we’ve experienced has eclipsed even the Bills run to four Super Bowls,” said O’Hara. “Usually we would get this traffic at the end of a successful season, but for Sabres gear it has been a continuous thing which has carried over since before last season’s playoffs.”

So where are the jerseys that everyone seems to want?

O’Hara replied, “We put an order in for jerseys in January and February of 2006, knowing that new product would be coming in. We never got our full supply, whether it be authentic, replica or youth. It’s been tough for Reebok to handle.

“We’re now sitting on thousands upon thousands of orders,” O’Hara added. “And we’ve also gotten blank jerseys and sent them to local lettering houses to help meet the demand.”

O’Hara also offered this advice for anyone looking to have their Sabres jersey in time for Christmas. “Call us every day,” he said. “You never know what day a delivery will come in and often time we will get a shipment of goods without notice.”

Just last week, the NHL released a sales report for November which stated that the Sabres were the top-selling team on the online merchandise store for the second month in a row. Sales of Sabres merchandise, including apparel, were up 1,000 percent in November compared to last year.

Customized Buffalo Sabres replica home jerseys were the number one seller. Even more incredibly, five Sabres players appear on the NHL’s top 10 list of sold jerseys: Maxim Afinogenov (#2), Ryan Miller (#30), Daniel Briere (#4), Jason Pominville (#7) and Chris Drury (#8). Pittsburgh’s Sidney Crosby leads the list.

We also stopped by to check in with Sabres Public Relations Director Mike Gilbert and asked him about all the buzz. Gilbert had a couple interesting takes, first being that the demand for merchandise is “way bigger” compared to the last logo change prior to the 1996-97 season. “Interestingly, the demand has remained consistently high compared to that year. Back then interest in the new logo had tailed off as the season went on,” said Gilbert. When we asked about jerseys and other specialty items on back order, Gilbert pulled no punches. “If you wish to order something in the hopes of getting it for Christmas, you probably will be disappointed.”

One more option to consider is an auction site like eBay, but prepare to pay a premium. A search for a Ryan Miller replica jersey in a 2X size was fetching $262 with an hour to the auction’s close. If available, this jersey sells at the Sabres Store for $159.99.

So were you one of those fans who participated in that ridiculous online petition last summer to “fix the logo”? If so, are you now part of the frenzy, buying up stuff this holiday season?

If so, you’re certainly not alone.

TARO SEZ (Sunshine State Edition)…

Andrew Peters dressed and saw ice time for both games in Florida last week, and managed to get into fights both times. The fight in Tampa came early on, and resulted in lifting the team from its sluggish start. “I fill whatever role the coach wants me to fill,” said Peters, looking happy to be getting into the game.

Buffalo South? About 40 percent of those at the St. Pete Times Forum were Buffalo partisans, with chants of “Let’s Go Buf-Fa-Lo!” taking over the arena. When Daniel Briere scored the goal for his first NHL hat trick, Sabres fans in attendance littered the ice with hats.

Nice to see Dave Andreychuk get his well earned tribute in a nice pre-game ceremony. Andreychuk is a beloved icon in both Buffalo and Tampa. “We scheduled this event deliberately to coincide with a Lightning/Sabres game,” said Tampa Bay General Manager Jay Feaster.

Anyone hoping for a good sign about this year’s team can look to the Pittsburgh Zoo, where a white buffalo calf was recently foaled. It’s a very rare occurrence that is looked upon by indigeonous cultures as a positive sign…hope so…hope so.

Dave Andreychuk bobbleheads were passed out to 5,000 lucky fans. Taro did not get one.

Spotted down in Florida: Daniel Tsunekawa and Andrew DiMento, the two road trip dudes from California who are currently visiting all 30 NHL arenas. Their stops at the two Florida venues coincided with the Sabres games. “Buffalo still stands out as the mother of all visits,” reported Tsunekawa. “Nobody showed us as much friendliness as the Sabres organization and their fans.” They hit the finish line on December 23 in Dallas, then race home to their families in time for Christmas.

Attendance at the Bank Atlantic Center for last Thursday’s game—15,385. And for your info, this count was brought to you by the same guy who tallies attendance at Buffalo Bisons games in April.