Monday, June 27, 2011

My Interview with
Buffalo Sabres' Kevin Sylvester

The other day during the Sabres Summit I was once again impressed by the organization's ability to connect with the fans. If you were unable to participate, I suggest you check out the blogs listed below. The Sabres selected bloggers from around the area to blog about the event, while fans sent in questions. I'm sure this made it much easier for the panel compared to what happened to Ted Black during his chat back in April. Towards the end of the three hour long chat Ted found himself with no tech support (probably because it was so late and they needed to go home). He had to fend for himself, filtering through all the questions being asked, and still managed to do an awesome job. This time bloggers did the filtering and Ted could sit back and enjoy a beer ( which I think he had in hand when he came out if I remember right). For more info on the Summit, here are a few good sites.... Sabres Summit Part 1 Sabres Summit Part 2 Sabres Summit Part 3 (would not load today, but listing it anyway)

There were a few things that the Sabres Summit did for me, a girl blogging about hockey from the state of Oregon:

One, it helped me connect with so many other Sabres fans around the world.

Two, it allowed me to ask my much anticipated follow up question about Ted's shaving preferences. You see, during the chat in April, my husband asked Ted what kind of shaving cream he used. To which Ted answered, "Edge Gel." When I told my husband about the Sabres Summit he told me to make sure to ask what kind of razor he uses. So I did, and Ted being the cool guy that he is, answered with, "Cheap-o-disposable kind." Thanks Ted!

The third thing that happened during the Sabres Summit was I realized Kevin Sylvester had a twitter account. Kevin Sylvester, alongside Mike Robitaille, are the TV hosts of pregames, intermissions, and post game reviews of Buffalo Sabres' games. A few weeks ago the Sabres announced that with Rick Jeanneret and Harry Neale only calling home games this year, it will be Kevin Sylvester and Danny Gare in the booth calling away games. Kevin was asked how he felt about his new roll with the Sabres. “I am thrilled for the opportunity to call away games for this exciting team,” said Sylvester. “I have tremendous respect for RJ’s mastery of Sabres play-by-play, and am happy that he will continue. I’m also excited to share the booth with Danny Gare, whose experience and knowledge of the game will be great assets to all Sabres fans.”

I did not catch Kevin's Twitter name at first, but when I clicked on his picture (above) I could see it was him. I sent him a quick tweet and asked if he would ever consider doing an email interview with me. He responded with, "Sure, send me an email." Since his Twitter account was not verified I began to wonder if it was really him. But I was finally able to verify it was the real Kevin Sylvester and started working on my questions. The following is my interview with Kevin Sylvester. I hope you enjoy. If so, please leave a comment below. I just want to make sure someone out there is reading my blog. Stats say 100 or so hits a day but I still have only one comment. I think blogger is just trying to make me feel good.  Thanks!

June 17th, 2011


First I just want to say thank you for doing this interview. I hope to interview more people from the Sabres organization in the future. I wanted to let you know a little bit about what my blog focuses on. I like to interview the people of hockey and how they became involved with the sport. There are so many blogs out there that ask the same questions about the current issues in the NHL and the future of hockey. I may have a few of those questions but my main focus is the on the person as a regular guy (or girl) and how they live their life in the sport of hockey.

With that being said, here are the questions I promised you. Please answer only the questions you feel comfortable with and take as much time as you need. If an answer to a question has already been covered in a previous answer just list which question I should refer back to. Pretty standard stuff I guess.

Oh, and one last thing. I do have a sense of humor and like to joke around but not everyone likes humor in an interview. Like I said though, I want to interview the person like we are just hanging out having a beer. So I hope I don't offend you with any of my questions but when I saw you in those pants I thought, “Now there is a guy with a sense of humor! I need to interview him!"

So, let me pour you a metaphorical beer, and start the interview....

What was your life like as kid and teenager? Parents, siblings, school life... that kind of thing.

Q. Did you grow up in the Buffalo area?
Kevin Sylvester: I was born in Fredonia, but grew up in Waterloo, NY

Q. Did you ever play hockey growing up?
Kevin Sylvester:  Played street hockey, but not ice. Rinks were too far away. We played football in the fall, basketball in the winter, and baseball in the spring.

Q. Did you follow hockey as a kid and if so, what team?
Kevin Sylvester: I didn't have cable so I watched very little hockey. Listened to the Amerks every now and then on the radio, and would go to my friend David's house to watch the Stanley Cup finals.

Q. Where you a trouble maker in high school or a focused kind of guy?
Kevin Sylvester: I was more of a smart a$$ than troublemaker. But I was an honor student, 10th in my class.

Q. Did you always know you wanted to be in broadcasting or did you have other plans?
Kevin Sylvester: It was either a baseball player or broadcaster.
My Reply: Lucky for us the baseball thing didn't pan out.

Q. Did you have any broadcasting idols that you admired growing up?
Kevin Sylvester: Bob Costas, Billy Packer, and Dick Vitale I've met 2 of the 3. Of course it's the one who occasionally hosts hockey that I haven't met.

Me: I know you went to college at SUNY Fredonia and were a guest speaker for their Leadership Development Speaker Series back in March 2010. You were quoted as saying, “I guess the first piece of advice I want to give you is be careful of what you do in college and who you let take pictures of you.” Then held up a picture of yourself in a plaid jacket from your days at Fredonia.

Q. Is there any chance we can get a look at that picture?
Kevin Sylvester: Not a chance! We dressed in gaudy salvation army stuff for our marketing management presentation as a gag. My group got an A in part for our captivating appearance! I told them that, because people are out of hand with cell phone cameras.
My Reply: Damn! I wanted to see that photo!

Q. What was your college life like?
Kevin Sylvester: College was great! Best time of my life.

Q. I think I read some where that you met your wife in college is that true?
Kevin Sylvester: Yes, we met freshman year, but didn't start dating until our junior year. We lived in the same dorm that year, and she couldn't resist my charm! Kidding of course. She's a pretty amazing wife and mother. I'm lucky to have her.
My Reply: Very good answer!

Q. What was your involvement with hockey at that point?
Kevin Sylvester: I called my first game on radio filling in for a senior on the student station. Fell in love with it that night even though I was terrible.

Me: During college you interned at Buffalo radio station WGR550 and after college you were offered a job there.

Q. How important was the internship for you?
Kevin Sylvester: It opened the door to my first job there. I showed up everyday, even when I wasn't scheduled. A lot of great people were there t that time. Funny thing is, I originally didn't have it. I was told to call the promo director for the internship. I called him each day for 31 days straight and got voicemail each time. I left a message each time. On day 32, he answered and I was speechless because i couldn't believe he actually answered. He told me I was in luck because the kid who was going to take just backed out, so I was in! I would love to meet the guy who backed out.
My Reply: I'm sure he is out there somewhere wondering what went wrong.

Q. What advice would you give to young people who want to have a career in broadcasting?
Kevin Sylvester: Never let anyone talk you out of your dream. I'm living proof. Also, work hard and be prepared for anything. It's a crazy business, but a fun one.

Q. How did you get started with the Sabres organization and what was your first year like?
Kevin Sylvester: I was approached by Larry Quinn about being the host. I had to submit a tape and show treatment. He liked both so much, I was hired during the lockout. The first year was amazing with the playoff run we had!

Q. What are a few of your top moments that have happened while working with the Sabres organization?
Kevin Sylvester: The playoff runs, presidents trophy, and getting a shot to do play by play.

Q. What are a few of the worst?
Kevin Sylvester: Losing in the playoffs.

Q. What was it like to call your first NHL game when you filled in for Rick Jeanneret a few years ago?
Kevin Sylvester: I was understandably nervous. It was tough, everything happened so fast. It was in Phoenix and we got smoked. I was much more relaxed 2 nights later in Dallas.

Me: The broadcasting booth area went from fans being able to walk by, then a rope was placed I think, finally a screen. I remember one game where you turned to say something to a rowdy fan and Mike Robitaille stopped you and said, “Always check on the size of the guy talking before you say something.”

Q. I have to ask... Do you like the change to the broadcasting booth area?
Kevin Sylvester: We are supposed to change it again this season, so stay tuned!

Q. What are the best parts about traveling with the team?
Kevin Sylvester: The plane and the hotels. All first class.

Q. What do you do during the time on the plane/bus?
Kevin Sylvester: Talk with Harry about life and hockey on the bus. On the plane, read, watch movies, or do homework on upcoming games.

Q. We know hockey players like to play pranks on their team mates. Has the team or staff ever played one on you?
Kevin Sylvester: Not yet!
My Reply: Hmmmm... There is always next season!

Q. What are some of the best pranks you have seen pulled off by the players?
Kevin Sylvester: Nothing stands out.
My Reply: Ok boys, you need to work on this so next season something stands out for Kevin... just sayin'

Q. Give us your thoughts and feeling on what the organization has become since 2-22-11, Pegula Day!
Kevin Sylvester: It made a great workplace even better.

Q. What is your family life like now?
Kevin Sylvester: I mentioned my amazing wife earlier. I have three kids who make me laugh a lot. I like to keep them as private as possible.

Q. What other activities besides hockey are you passionate about? (hmmm.. I going to say golf?)
Kevin Sylvester: Golf and the occasional fishing trip. Sports and music are getting big with my kids now too.
My Reply: If you ever make it to Montana I will tell you some great places to go fishing. Nothing beats fishing in Montana!

Me: This one is for my husband. During the chat with Ted Black my husband asked what kind of shaving cream his uses (Edge Gel) and then had me ask about razors during Sabres Summit (cheap disposable kind). So when I asked hubby what he wanted to ask you... you can see where this is going.

Q. What kind of shaving cream and razors do you use?
Kevin Sylvester: Edge and Gillette with the 5 blades
My Reply: My husband ditched his schick and bought one of these the other day. He loved it and says Thank You Kevin!

Q. My daughter wants to know what it is like working with that guy who says all the funny stuff? Which of course is R.J., but funny guy works for her.
Kevin Sylvester: He's great. Always has a comment about my suitcase.

Q. My son wants to know if you have ever touched the Stanley Cup?
Kevin Sylvester: Yes, When I worked in radio it made a visit to our studio. I had my picture taken with it. I won't again until we win it!
My Reply: Next season I hope!

Me: I asked Ted Black if I could buy him and Terry a beer when I make it to Buffalo some day. I think I asked Scott Miner too.
So I have to ask....

Q. If I ever make it to Buffalo, will you join me, my husband Joel, Ted, Terry, and Scott for a beer? I figure if I get enough people to say yes, and beer is involved, my husband will give in. Then this girl born and raised in Montana, living in Oregon, will at last touch down in Buffalo!
Kevin Sylvester: If I can fit it in great.
My Reply: You guys pick the place!
I can't say thank you enough for doing this! It means so much to me to have people I admire want to take time out of their day to answer my questions.

When I sent these questions to Kevin I signed my name at the bottom of course. Instead of using the standard "Thank You," ending.  I signed how I sign most hockey related emails with, "Hope the Sabres Win the Cup" followed by the year. Well, after he sent me his answers I noticed the way I signed it this time. It said, "Hope the Sabres Win the Cup 2011." I felt like such an idiot! My first interview of one of my favorite hockey people and I messed up the year! I could just hear him saying, "Ya, ok crazy lady, the cup was already won for 2011 so... ah...good luck with that."

I have to say I find it amazing the way the whole organization is responding to social media. It made me love this team even more. I was always proud to say I'm a Buffalo Sabres fan but now I find myself telling every hockey person I know what our team is doing. Their response is always the same, "Are you sure you were talking to the real Ted Black, Kevin Sylvester, or 'Internet Guy' for the Official Buffalo Sabres' Facebook page?" They don't believe that a team would ever take the time to ask or please the fans. Then they start to wonder why their team isn't do the same thing.

I'm not sure who I'll get to interview next. I do have other people lined up that have nothing to do with the Sabres. I want to keep my blog about the people of hockey but can't help it if it's a slightly skewed Sabres view. Ask anyone who knows me and they will tell you I'm a list making kind of person. So I think I'm going to publish a list of all the people I would like to interview at some point. Then I can check them off as I go along.

I wanted to give a quick thanks to all the people at Center Ice News, Twitter followers, and Facebook that have been helping me get my blog going. When I get home from vacation I plan on setting up a schedule that will allow me to publish something at least once a week. So please stick with me and I promise by the start of the preseason I should have the blog running smooth. And if anyone out there has an idea, knows someone I should interview, or wants to be interviewed to share their hockey story just let me know. My interview email address is: . I look forward to hearing from you!

Hope the Sabres Win the Cup 2011 2012,

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1 comment:

John Ginder said...

Excellent interview.

Seems like a pretty standup guy. I enjoy him on pre-game and post-game shows when I am lucky enough to be home to watch.