A few weeks ago, I bumped into Ted Black in the lobby of the hotel where he is staying when I was picking up my mom (she works the front desk). We chatted briefly and my mom (being a typical mom), mentioned my blog to him. Ted handed me his business card and graciously offered to contribute to my blog. Although his schedule is obviously busy during this exciting time in the hockey season, Ted took the time to answer a few questions for me. Here's what he had to say...
Where were you born and where did you grow up? Have you lived in many different places?
TB: I was born in Cheverly, Maryland, in 1965. I don’t remember much about my life there. We moved to New Bethlehem, Pennsylvania in 1969. NB is a small town near Clarion, about an hour north of Pittsburgh. After college and law school, I lived in various places in Pittsburgh until my new adventure in Buffalo began 6 weeks ago. Now I live in a hotel in the city… (and go to Pittsburgh on weekends to see my wife and kids, who are staying there until school is out in June).
Were you a fan of any sport growing up? Did you play any sports competitively?
TB: I was a fan of the Pirates and Steelers when I was a kid. I played basketball, football and track in high school. I was a pretty good athlete, but was never exposed to hockey (there were no rinks near our town). I think I would have really loved growing up playing the sport.
How did you become involved with professional hockey?
TB: I met Ken Sawyer at a party around 1998 and tried to help him with a couple business consulting ventures he was involved in at the time. About a year later, Ken became the president of the Penguins and he brought me in to interview as the Penguins’ vice president and general counsel in 1999.
Other than the fans, what has been your favorite thing about Buffalo so far?
TB: Hmmm, that is a tough one, because so much of what I love centers around the fans. I do love how hockey is so firmly entrenched in the culture of Western New York and that Buffalo has a big small town feel (I mean this as a compliment for sure).
Have you discovered any favorite restaurants or areas in the city?
TB: Tempo and Spot Coffee on Delaware. The Elmwood/Delaware Park area.
Do you think your family will like it here?
TB: They will love it here.
In today’s world, professional sports has become big business. Since the change in ownership, the new attitude has brought an energy that makes it feel more like a sport again (by the way, congratulations on making the playoffs!). Can you tell me a little about your philosophy of a sports franchise as a business?
TB: I think it “feels more like a sport again” because Terry admittedly doesn’t run the hockey club like a business – he runs this business like a championship hockey club. His approach seems to have energized Buffalo fans all over the country, who have fallen in love with the 2010-11 Buffalo Sabres. Like the players, fans take their cue from the owner. If the owner obsesses about the bottom line, the fans will do the same. If the owner is consumed with the goal of winning the Stanley Cup, the fans (and players) will do the same.
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
TB: We are driven by the thought of how much generational joy that a Stanley Cup will bring to the city of Buffalo and to the Buffalo diaspora. Thanks for being such great fans.
I'd like to thank Ted Black again for his time and willingness to share his insight with the fans. The bridge that he and the Pegulas are building between themselves and the fans really shows how much they care.