As part of 21 layoffs Tuesday, Pegula Sports and Entertainment made major administrative changes by dismissing Chris Bandura, the Buffalo Sabres' veteran vice president of media relations, and two other VPs.
Bandura was in his 15th season with the team and was the main daily contact for both local and national media when it came to the players, coaches and hockey department personnel. He confirmed the change Tuesday but declined comment.
Also let go were John Sinclair, the vice president of tickets and service, and Jennifer Van Rysdam, the vice president of live events. Communication to season ticket holders usually comes from Sinclair, an employee since 1988. Van Rysdam has worked for the team since 2005 and was previously the vice president of arena events for the Sabres.
The Sabres did not mention the trio's departures in a news release highlighting layoffs, furloughs and salary reductions at PSE. Two sources confirmed the departures of Sinclair and Van Rysdam.
Bandura is a popular figure among the players and many members of the hockey department and front office. He is also highly respected in NHL media circles, notably by national broadcast crews on both sides of the border.
Multiple sources said the move was a decision to change direction made by leadership at Pegula Sports and Entertainment, much like when the Bills reassigned senior vice president of communications Scott Berchtold from his post in 2017. Berchtold had been with the team since 1989 and was replaced by Canisius College graduate Derek Boyko, who had spent 17 seasons with the Philadelphia Eagles.
Bandura will be replaced on an interim basis by Chris Dierken, the Sabres' manager of media relations. Dierken, a SUNY Buffalo State graduate, has been with the team since 2015.
Bandura was in his third season as a Sabres vice president. He had previously spent six seasons as director of media relations and six more as the team's media relations coordinator.
The Utica College graduate joined the Sabres in July 2005 after working two years for the Rochester Sports Group doing media relations for the Amerks and three other minor-league teams in the city. He also worked for the National Lacrosse League's Columbus Landsharks and as a media relations manager for the NLL.