Russ Brandon's big moment with the Buffalo Sabres didn't work.
The former team president, who resigned Tuesday after being part of an internal investigation, was one of the key figures in getting the World Junior Championship back to Buffalo this year. The hype was big, especially the outdoor game between the United States and Canada in New Era Field.
The event failed to capture the attention of Western New York. The Sabres hitched their wagon to presale packages, and the result was acres of empty seats for most of the games played in KeyBank Center.
The outdoor game drew 44,592 fans, a record for a World Junior game but far short of the 71,217 who filled the Bills' stadium a decade earlier for the Winter Classic between the Sabres and Pittsburgh Penguins.
Brandon, who replaced Ted Black in July 2015, wasn't as visible as his predecessor. Brandon would sit in on the occasional news conference, including the announcement of a Labatt restaurant next to the arena and the arrival of Uber. He joined the team for its "Road Crew" parties when the Sabres went out of town.
But whereas Black set about fixing "a million little things" pointed out by the fans, Brandon – who knew he wouldn't win popularity contests in town – stayed in the background.
In notable moves, Brandon and the television executives at Pegula Sports and Entertainment declined to renew Black's satellite deal that put the Sabres on the air in Canada. He followed Black's lead in requesting that Rochester help fix the Amerks' aging arena.
The advertising has increased during Sabres games – they sell everything from the appearance of veterans for the national anthem to sponsorships for team awards – but attendance decreased this season to its lowest announced level since 2005-06.
Kim Pegula will assume the role of president.
Story topics: Russ Brandon