It was only two short years ago that the Buffalo Sabres were bought by Terry Pegula; a long time Buffalo Sabres fan and billionaire. He was almost every Sabres fan dream owner. Now the floundering Sabres have the resources to go toe to toe with the big clubs. Everything would change, and soon Buffalo would be drinking from Lord Stanley’s Cup, or so the city thought.
It is amazing how his words may haunt him until the day the Sabres win the cup. Pegula’s now famous quote “From this point forward, the Buffalo Sabres‘ reason for existence will be to win the Stanley Cup.” Unfortunately for Pegula and the Sabres, this great idea and mission statement is often talked about during a rant on local radio. It’s really brought up in a positive conversation.
If you are listening to Buffalo sports radio on any given day you will hear someone talk about Terry Pegula’s money. During Pegula’s first press conference he was asked “Are you prepared to lose money?”- His answer was honest, and heartfelt. He said “I wanna run the team to win the Stanley cup…if i wanna make some money I’ll go dig a gas well, I don’t need to make it in the hockey business.”
While this answer got the Sabres fan base jumping, I believe it may be one of the worse things he could have said in what the Sabres now call Hockey Heaven.
Mr. Pegula sir, hockey is a business, not a fantasy sport. People spend their hard earned money on your product. It is not as easy as bringing in super stars. Even after a $30 million dollar renovation of the Sabres locker room and training area the stars of the NHL still won’t come to Buffalo. I cannot think of one Sabres fan that is happy with you right now. The Sabres have failed their fan base. A base that flocked back to the FNC with open arms after a lockout, a fan base that spent more the $2 million dollars on merchandise after a lockout, and a fan base that has allowed the Sabres to add standing room seats and a waiting list for season tickets. Mr.Pegula sir, you don’t need to dig a well, you need to deliverer on your promise.
During the past two seasons Terry Pegula and his frot office have taken on many projects in and around The First Niagara Center. Just about everything that has been done was done to help fans enjoy the games a little more. There are new TV’s all over the place; there is a shelf that holds drink in the men’s room above the urinals, the FNC was given a paint job to match the home team’s colors. The problem is there has not been much done to improve the team or the on-ice product.
Some people in Buffalo think that Terry has taken on too much. That he may be pulled in too many directions. For those of you who do not know, the Sabres are building a hotel, two NHL ice rinks, a restaurant , and shopping center across from the FNC. Add to that the addition of the Rochester Americans of the AHL, and who knows what else Pegula has his hand in; it is just way too many balls in the air. If you are going to own a professional sports team in Buffalo you need to work, and be seen and heard. Lately Terry Pegula has become just a name, a shadow hidden in the corner office.
The Sabres said they would build Hockey Heaven, but I think they forgot if you are going to have a Hockey Heaven you may just need to go through Hockey Hell.