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15,000 have "signed' online petition with comments anything but favorable

News Staff Reporter

Many Buffalo Sabres fans have been anything but kind.

They have called the team's presumed new logo - the head and hunched upper body of a buffalo - every name in the book.

They say it looks like - take your pick - Donald Trump's hair, a banana slug, Bobby Hull's ratty toupee, even a colostomy bag.

At the center of the firestorm sits a 24-year-old Cheektowaga man who has mobilized this resentment into a Web site petition that now carries more than 15,000 "signatures."

The purpose of Drew Celestino's Web site,
, is as subtle as a center-ice hip check:

"Our sole purpose is to give the fans a place to voice their disappointment, displeasure, hatred, loathing and general disdain of this design," the Web site's mission statement says.

One word of caution: Only the Buffalo Sabres and the makers of their new uniforms know for sure what the jerseys will look like, and top Sabres officials adamantly refuse to discuss anything about the team's new look for next season.

Team officials have said the Sabres are going back to a blue-and-gold color scheme, but there has been no hint the crossed swords will be featured on the jerseys.

That's where much of the fans' anger comes from.

"We are not the Buffalo Buffaloes," one petition signer wrote. "We are the Buffalo Sabres. Use swords in the logo."

"The team is not the Buffaloes," another wrote. "The [Columbus] Blue Jackets don't have Christopher Columbus on their jerseys."

And another wrote, "Punch Imlach, Seymour and Northrup Knox and Ted Darling are surely spinning in their graves over this proposal."

As of late Thursday, more than 15,000 people had written their full or first names on the online petition. Signers obviously could use fake names and sign the petition several times, but there's no doubt that thousands of people have taken the time to express their displeasure.

Talk radio has helped fuel the panning of the new design, which apparently was leaked by a licensing company working with the Sabres. But it would be a real challenge to get 15,000 people to sign a petition on the area's more substantive issues.

How can thousands of people get so worked up over a logo appearing on a pro athlete's chest?

"There's a very emotional attachment to the graphic identity of the team, more now that players are moving from team to team," explained Robert P. Carr, president of Carr Marketing Communications. "It goes back to the old Jerry Seinfeld quote: "You root for the laundry.' "

While the Sabres may not appreciate all the shots at a jersey that hasn't been unveiled, the team should appreciate that the fans truly care about the team and how it represents Buffalo.

I think it's a true barometer of the passion people have for the identity of the team," Carr said. "It also shows how much this community embraced this team during the recent playoff run."

Another local marketing guru, John D. Cimperman, a principal with Cenergy Communications, added that the Sabres should be thrilled that more than 10,000 people were moved to sign the petition.

"That's the good news," he added. "The bad news is [it seems like] a wasted opportunity to sell a lot of merchandise and build upon the phenomenal momentum of the organization."

The petition signers panned the proposed logo, some describing it with expletives and others reaching with comparisons to an infected toe.

But Celestino, who has a bachelor of arts degree in media study from the University at Buffalo, thinks the dislike of the new logo is genuine. "There are some jokers on the petition, but the numbers are staggering, and I think the sentiment is more than real," said Celestino, who insists he remains a strong supporter of the Sabres.

Celestino believes Sabres fans were teased with all the public hints that the team would go back to some variation of its traditional blue-and-gold logo with the crossed swords.

"The fans were sold on the notion that this was our team," he said. "Fans definitely felt a part of everything this year, only to feel now that they have no say in it at all."

The original Sabres logo was distinctive in pro sports, perhaps the only one that captured both a team's city and nickname, with the buffalo and the crossed swords.

Interestingly, the National Hockey League's six original franchises - Toronto, Montreal, Boston, New York, Detroit and Chicago - have kept their logos for decades, with only some minor tweaking.

In the highly competitive business of pro sports, teams have to weigh "brand equity," or brand loyalty, against the dollars that can be made by selling merchandise with a new logo.

"You have to measure how much brand equity you have before you change your logo," Carr said. "If you go back to the Original Six, they understand how valuable that brand equity is."

With the Sabres mum on the subject, marketing experts caution that the final product could be different from the logo that has been leaked to the public over the Internet.

Cimperman, who has helped market new logos for the Cleveland Cavaliers and others, said there often are inaccuracies in the leaking of early drafts of a team's logo.

"Until the team officially presents the new identity, it is too early to tell," he said. "Let's not be surprised if what we see in the official announcement is different from what we've seen."

25,851 Posts
Updated [July 27-2006]

(Buffalo, NY, July 27, 2006) - - The Buffalo Sabres are reclaiming a piece of their past. The Sabres are bringing back the old blue and gold jerseys, along with a controversial new buffalo logo. News 4's Ellen Maxwell reports.

Sabres Managing Partner Larry Quinn says the team is answering an outpouring of fan concern with the announcement Thursday.

Almost two months ahead of their schedule, the Sabres announced that the original blue and gold jersey with the buffalo and crossed sabres will be their third jersey that they will wear at 15 home games this season.

Quinn also announced that the logo that has been circulating the Internet for some time is, in fact, the Sabres' new logo, although Quinn says it is not the exact symbol, but only a part of it.

Quinn believes fans will be pleasantly surprised when the new jerseys are unveiled the week of September 24.

Nearly 23,000 Sabres fans have already signed an online petition protesting this logo over the past few weeks.

Quinn said, "I would expect nothing less of our fans than to be passionate about it one way or another. I hope there's 30,000 signatures on it when we're done. That doesn't bother me one bit. ... I think this stuff's great.

I'm very happy with it. We're hockey people. We love people talking about hockey, even if it's, 'We don't like their logo.' What they're really saying is they're so passionate about the Sabres, and that's always good."

Quinn says the team is trying to assure fans who have expressed feelings of betrayal that the team misled them about going back to the old jerseys.

We'll have more on the new and old jerseys and fan reaction Thursday night at 10 & 11.


25,851 Posts
Well i am happy to see the sabres bringing back that classic jersey. i could not understand why they got rid of it after they left the AUD.:thumbsup:
Well you know this is just a gimmick to get the fans to come the games!!

Their having a tough summer, trying to sign everyone, and they know they won't be able to!!

I never liked the White/Red Buffalo head on the Black jersey anyways!! I'm with you, I liked the old ones better, but they changed them when they moved for the same reason, new arena, have to get the fans in there to pay for it!!
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