I had the privilege to tour the new locker room for the Buffalo Sabres. And all I can say is: Holy. Crap.

If the attention to detail wasn’t enough, the way that the design incorporates the history with the future just blows you away.

Before the tour, everyone was talking about the fireplace (awesome) and the logo that you must never walk across on the locker room floor (more on that later). But there was so much more to these spaces. Spaces that most will never see. (Ted Black did say, however, that they are hoping to open up the areas for a public tour. Stay tuned on that.)

Everywhere you looked, there was something. Maybe it was small. Like the blue backlit area in the lounge. Or maybe it was staring you in the face, like the words carefully picked for the locker room: “Belief. Commitment. Character. Discipline. Trust. Excellence.”

No matter what it was, I know that if anyone on that tour walked in with a so-so feeling towards the Sabres, they definitely left a fan.

Because among the rows of training equipment, or the video games in the lounge, or the shrine from the Aud, or the Hall of Fame Wall, it came down to one thing: The Buffalo Sabres.

Each design was meticulously planned. No surface had gone untouched. And even on plain blue walls, you could see it: Pride and hope.  The Sabres have a rich history, and it’s all showcased throughout the halls. But the Sabres also have hope. A hope they believe in so much, many of the “timeline” walls, like the “Puck Wall” have blank spaces, to allow for current players’ names.

And that generates one thing for anyone who sees it: Excitement.

(OK, maybe two things, because I’m sure the players have some determination to get up there as well.)

Sure, I’m a little jealous of the Sabres-branded hot tub. Or the steam room. Or iPod mounts on the walls that allow you to pipe your tunes into that area. Or the aforementioned logo on the floor, that can be changed to reflect the teams left in the hunt for the Stanley Cup come playoff time, or to honor a fallen great, like Rick Martin. But I can’t shake the feeling that this team is finally getting what they deserve. The owners and the management see what us fans have seen for years. A team with heart. A team with determination. A team that deserves the best.

Isn’t there a statistic that says employees are more productive if they work in a supportive, fun environment? If that’s the case, then I can say – without doubt – this is our year.

Go Sabres!