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Welcome to Sabres University

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11-16-2012, 09:05 PM
Taro Tsujimoto
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Location: Clarence Center, NY
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Welcome to Sabres University

For most around the NHL, the ongoing lockout of players -- now in its third month -- is something to endure.

Most teams have tried to keep up charitable works and community outreach in their markets, but credit the Buffalo Sabres for trying to turn a lot of lockout lemon into a little lemonade with their innovative introduction of what is being dubbed Sabres University.

Under owner Terry Pegula, the successful businessman and devout hockey fan who bought the Sabres in February 2011, the team announced early on in the current labor dispute that it would not lay off staff or require employees to take pay cuts, unlike other teams and the NHL itself, which cut staff hours and pay.

But Pegula encouraged staff to take this time away from the normal routine to get better at its jobs and make the Sabres a more efficient organization.

Enter president Ted Black.

Black, who was part of a group that helped advise Pegula on his purchase of the Sabres, was talking to a team marketing executive who had just returned from a seminar on social media. Black suggested the executive report to a group of staffers about what he learned. Then, Black wondered aloud about making it so all employees could have an opportunity to learn about things like social media and a host of other topics related to the running of an NHL team.

Sabres University was the result, an opportunity for employees to listen to lectures given in more than 30 areas of team operation, including ice making, public speaking, coaching strategy, scouting, marketing and fitness and diet.

The unique program, which features classes twice a week, has been a terrific boon to staff morale, which can wax and wane during a lockout, Black told ESPN.com this week.

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