'For the second straight season — if there is a National Hockey League season — the Buffalo Sabres will host the defending Stanley Cup champions in Rochester's Blue Cross Arena. The Sabres announced Wednesday the Tampa Bay Lightning are the scheduled opponent Monday, Oct. 18 in Rochester, home of Sabres' owner B. Tom Golisano.'
'The Sabres will play two games across the border in Ontario, facing Minnesota at St. Catharines on Sept. 25 and Montreal at Hamilton on Oct. 6. Buffalo rounds out its schedule at Toronto on Sept. 28, at Montreal on Oct. 2 and at Minnesota on Oct. 3.'
'If there's a CBA, the Sabres first preseason game will be September 24th against Columbus in Rochester.'
'The schedule includes two games each versus Minnesota, Montreal and Toronto, along with the preseason finale against the Stanley Cup Champions, the Tampa Bay Lightning.'
'Golisano said his personal impetus came from Buffalo's home games against the Toronto Maple Leafs, when the arena was packed with as many Leafs fans as Sabres fans. "We want to get the lower bowl filled with season ticket holders," Golisano said.'
'In addition to winning seasons, it will take league-leading management for this team to remain viable in the long term. Golisano's new policies look like solid steps in that direction.'
'"(My) resources give us time to get it turned around," said Golisano. "But nobody can (lose money) forever. It has to be turned around."'
'If the Sabres — and the rest of the NHL, for that matter — really want to live up to the “For The Fans!” slogan, they’ll make sure there is a season. Because if there is no season, it will take more than a unique pricing structure to bring them back. At that point, it’s a lose-lose situation for all involved.'
'"Whether it's payroll processing or hockey entertainment, basic principles apply," Sabres owner B. Thomas Golisano said Wednesday. "You have to have a product somebody wants. They have to be able to afford it. And they have to feel good about the value they're getting. It's as simple as that."'
'People are willing to pay for a good product, and that's why variable pricing makes sense. Buffalo-Toronto almost always gets the place buzzing, but it comes with a higher price. You want to see hockey but aren't overly intrigued by Buffalo and Phoenix, then Tom Golisano will cut you a break. It seems fair enough.'
'“People in Rochester think of the (Buffalo) Bills as their team and for the first time, I started to sense they feel that way about the Sabres,” Quinn said.'
'"We're definitely saying, `Hey, it's more important for you to stay with us long-term, than for us to capitalize on you, short-term. We want these people to be with us generationally, the way they were at the Aud."'
'The team is pricing games into four different categories: value (the cheapest), bronze, silver and gold (the most expensive). The games will be selected for each category based on historical demand, the time of year, the day of week, opponents and rivalries. Therefore, a Maple Leafs or weekend game would likely be classified as a "gold game", whereas a less popular opponent, during the week, would be less expensive.'
'''It's going to be hard, but quite frankly, if everybody bought just one more ticket we'd have 14,000,'' said Sabres managing partner Larry Quinn. ''Of course, we know not everybody is going to do that, but this game needs to be seen live, and right now it's too expensive.'''
'The Sabres say for season ticket holders, which numbered about 8,200 last season, the average price will be $35 per seat, lowest in the 30-team NHL. The overall average ticket price, which was $45 in 2003-04, will drop to $38.'