When the Sabres’ infamous “slug” jerseys were leaked back in 2006, the negative reaction was swift and severe. Things didn’t go any better for Buffalo on Wednesday.
The Sabres unveiled their new third jersey through a scripted cat-and-mouse byplay with forward Steve Ott on Twitter. The multicolored uniform – which features a gold front, blue back and silver numbers – generated a massive response, with an overwhelming majority panning the sweater.
“Shield your eyes! The Buffalo Sabres’ new third jersey is hideous!” blared the headline on Sports Illustrated’s website.
“Buffalo Sabres reveal perhaps the NHL’s worst jersey,” wrote Yahoo! Sports.
“Steve Ott unveils Sabres’ new third jersey and it’s awful,” read the headline on CBSSports.com.
Even former players joined in, with Matthew Barnaby tweeting that maybe the Sabres were trying to blind their opponents with the “awful” jersey.
In an email, Sabres President Ted Black declined to comment on the jersey and the reaction to it.
The sweater is the Sabres’ first to be primarily gold. The front has the traditional logo of a buffalo between two crossed swords, with the city’s name in small capital letters across the chest.
The blue along the shoulders and neckline travels all the way down the back. Silver numbers are topped by the players’ names in gold. The bottom third of the arms are also silver.
Unlike the Sabres’ primary jerseys, there are no horizontal lines along the waist. Another new feature is not visible while the jersey is being worn. Written along the inside back neckline are the words “belief, commitment, character, discipline, trust, excellence.” The slogan is borrowed from the wall of the Sabres’ dressing room.
The Sabres have been hyping the third jersey since mid-July, when they released a video showing snippets of the sweater. The teases continued on the team’s Twitter account throughout the summer as small swatches of the jersey were unveiled on a weekly basis.
The Sabres recently scripted Wednesday’s finale. After the latest “sneak peak” was merely a blue square, Ott joined in.
“Uncle, This is ridiculous!” Ott tweeted Wednesday. “How about just releasing the jersey???”
“Hi Steve,” came the team’s reply, “we appreciate your excitement for the jersey, but we have a lot more pics to go before we unveil!”
Ott, who was in First Niagara Center getting ready for a flight to an NHL media function in New York, then claimed to have found a jersey and gave the team 10 minutes to unveil it or he would. He followed through with camera-phone pictures that were shared by the Sabres’ account, igniting the firestorm.
The team released clearer pictures later in the day and said the jersey would be available for pre-order next month.
The Sabres begin defense of their prospect tournament title today in Traverse City, Mich., but they’ll do so without two of their biggest names.
Mikhail Grigorenko has been ruled ineligible for the tournament. The center played 25 games for the Sabres last year, which the team said exceeded the limit.
Grigorenko, selected 12th overall in the 2012 draft, shuttled between Buffalo and his junior team in Quebec last season. General Manager Darcy Regier has already said the 19-year-old will spend all of this season in Buffalo, and the tournament would have given the organization a good chance to view his offseason growth.
The Sabres decided not to bring defenseman Mark Pysyk, who played 19 games in Buffalo last year, and are opting to use seven defensemen for the tournament.
The Sabres play the Columbus Blue Jackets at 4 p.m. today with a radio call available on 1520 AM.