Niagara Gazette

July 15, 2006

SABRES: Web site hopes to fix 'hideous' new logo

By Tim Schmitt

Drew Celestino has heard them all — how the recently leaked Buffalo Sabres logo looks like a slug, a creamsicle or even Donald Trump’s hairpiece.

But rather than sit and moan, Celestino decided to use his talents to do something about it.

A budding Web designer, Celestino designed www.fixthelogo.com and has been overwhelmed by the result — more than 5,000 people signed an online petition within two days of the site’s launch.

“I’m blown away by the fan response,” said Celestino, 24, who lives in Buffalo. “I’m proud that people are rallying behind this. I never expected it to take off like this.”

Celestino said his first reaction to the new logo, which leaked on the Internet nearly a month ago, was “this thing is hideous.” He said that most who’ve hit the Web site, or stopped him to talk about the logo, feel the same.

Truth be told, it took Celestino some time to get used to the red-and-black sweaters the Sabres have worn since moving into HSBC Arena. But he’s pretty sure even time won’t silence the uproar the new logo has created. No representative of the team has confirmed that the new logo will be placed on the team’s uniform this season.

“It took some warming up to get used to the ones we have now,” Celestino said. “But at that time there was a lot of change in the air. There was a new building and a new owner. It seemed like a good fit. Maybe it’s because I’m a little older now and a little more sentimental, but I just don’t see these working.”

John Slabyk has an interesting perspective on the logo controversy. An art director from Lackawanna, Slabyk put together a number of designs prior to Tom Golisano’s purchase of the team. His designs are still on the Web (easiest found in a Google search for Celsius and Sabres) and a 2003 meeting he had with managing partner Larry Quinn went well.

“He agreed with everything I said,” Slabyk said. “Then we talked about a second meeting. But it never happened.”

Slabyk said it’s likely that Reebok’s deal with the NHL, which went into effect in 2005, had some bearing on the creation of the new logo. Reebok owns exclusive rights to the production and sales of jerseys for all 30 National Hockey League teams. Slabyk believes that Reebok farmed the logo design to a national company.

He now lives in Chicago, but Slabyk thinks the design is proof that the league isn’t concerned about local fans, but picking up buyers in other markets.

“They think that local fans will buy it no matter what it looks like, so they’re kind of cut out of the process,” he said. “They’re looking to get people who wouldn’t usually buy it.”

Slabyk got to see the new design a few weeks before it was leaked as some industry friends snuck him a copy. His first thought was that it was a fake, especially since the Sabres said they weren’t prepared to release the logo until September.

“But the more I hear, the more I think this is the real thing,” he said. “And the best way I can describe it is soulless.”

Celestino’s Web site has created a stir — he’s been on local TV and radio stations since it debuted — and a number of designs have made their way into his e-mail inbox.

But he’s decided not to post the designs, even though he’s a fan of Slabyk’s work.

“I don’t really think it’s my job to cheerlead for anyone’s design,” Celestino said. “I don’t want to take a stance. I want to say that what the team has done isn’t enough.”

Jason Reddecliff of Niagara Falls sat with friends Joe Congi, Tom Dritschel and Bill Stephens at Player’s Lounge on Friday and echoed Celestino’s opinion of the new logo.

“It’s just a buffalo,” Reddecliff said. “Where do the Sabres come into this? I don’t like it. It might be a little better if they put the swords behind it, but I don’t like it much.”

“It’s not aesthetically pleasing,” Celestino added. “There’s no focus, and it lacks character. It reeks of corporate doing, the same way that corporate people think that k-e-w-l is cool. It’s come from some designers in an office building and it feels like it’s from out of state and definitely not from a hockey fan.”

•••

The Buffalo Sabres traded the rights of forward Taylor Pyatt to the Vancouver Canucks in exchange for a fourth-round selection in the 2007 NHL draft, general manager Darcy Regier said Friday.

Pyatt, a 6-foot-4-inch, 220-pound left wing, played 230 games for Buffalo during the past four seasons, totaling 80 points.

He finished last season with six goals and six assists, including a game-winning goal against Ottowa on April 8.

Contact group sports editor Tim Schmitt at 282-2311, Ext. 2266.