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Black: Sabres' glut of matinees a decision of hockey, not marketing

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- Sabres president Ted Black met the media late Thursday afternoon and had some interesting/surprising comments about the team's heavy-with-matinees home schedule that was announced earlier in the day.

The team has 10 afternoon games, including seven that start at 1 p.m. on Saturdays. It's an unprecedented number and it's already drawing all kinds of chatter, both pro and con, on social media.

Black did say the Sabres made the moves thinking of families and even threw an olive branch to the media about their deadlines  (thank you, good sir!). But turning serious, he said this was done mostly through consultation with General Manager Tim Murray.

"Tim and I worked extensively on it," Black said. "With the team we have, Tim's belief is that playing earlier in the day is probably advantageous. For the players that have families, it's good for them too. They can get home."

(One of my translations: The less time spent by the single players late nights on Chippewa Street, the better. Good move).

"He believes playing a little bit earlier in the day and maybe getting out of the normal cadence, what will become normal for us will be abnormal for other teams," Black said of Murray. "He thinks the young kids will be a little bit more resilient with that. It also had a nice impact in reducing the number of back to backs."

The Sabres have only 15 back-to-backs next year, a manageable number. And Saturday afternoons cut that down because Black noted you can't play on Friday night -- home or away -- if you're playing the next afternoon.

Black admitted this year's schedule in an "experiment" and that the team understands it will get varied feedback.

"It's going to be a mix," he said. "There's no one sentiment. For folks with families, they may say it's great. For folks that like to go out a lot, they may not be as happy. But we still have a robust number of Friday night games, more Saturday night games too and a couple holiday games."

Murray is not meeting the media today. He's expected to hold a session with reporters here Friday morning in advance of the first round, which opens Friday night at 7.

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