Let’s play word association. Ready? Hope and Change. Let me guess, you thought of Barack Obama, that is, unless you are a Buffalo sports fan. A man by the name of Terry Pegula recently bought the Buffalo Sabres, and that’s whom you probably thought of if you are a Sabres die-hard, or if you are simply from the best area code in America.
Pegula, who is worth $3 billion dollars, takes the reins from Tom Golisano, who saved the team from bankruptcy and possibly even relocation. Buffalo is known for being a small-market team, and Golisano knew that, and it affected our personnel.
We let big names go after back-to-back runs to the conference finals because we did could not afford them, and it was a couple of painful years for Buffalo sports fans. Golisano made sure we broke even rather than won; he was business first. He remained in the shadows so as not to disrupt the transition of ownership.
Enter Pegula. First and foremost, the guy’s a fan. He’s willing to spend what it takes to field a great team. He has taken off the financial chains holding General Manager Darcy Regier back from signing and trading for expensive, good players (disclaimer: not all good players are expensive).
Pegula made and founded East Resources, a natural gas drilling company. “If I wanna make money, I’ll go drill a gas well,” he said at his first Sabres press conference in response to a question regarding financial commitment to the team. And most importantly, the new owner said, “The Buffalo Sabres’ sole reason for existence is to win a Stanley Cup.”
Sabres fans have been celebrating ever since, drooling at the prospect of winning the Stanley Cup, and shaking the ghosts that haunt Buffalo sports.
Even people who are the most pessimistic of the tortured Buffalo sports fans I know are blindly accepting the fact that we will win the Cup, perhaps even multiple ones.
And I don’t get it. Nothing against Pegula, (he’ll be the first one to tell you that spending to the cap doesn’t equate with winning) but there is still so much to be proved.
Sure the Sabres made a good acquisition of a scoring winger at the trade deadline in Brad Boyes, a move we would not have made in the financially conservative days of Mr. Golisano. During his press conference, he looked at Sabre legend Gilbert Perreault and said tearfully, “You’re my hero.”
Even my 86-year–old grandfather said he felt “like ten years younger” after Pegula’s press conference and the Sabres first win of his administration. It goes to show how desperate Buffalo sports fans truly are. Don’t get me wrong either, I’m probably one of the most desperate out there.
Winning the Stanley Cup is the hardest thing to do in all of sports. Hope is a great thing, but it’s also a dangerous thing. Be careful Sabres fans, we’re not in the Promised Land. Yet.