On the day Terry Pegula bought the Sabres, he set the bar for sports news conferences to a height that would make a Hollywood producer blush. We sat stunned as it seemed a heavy cloud was suddenly lifted from a franchise and an entire city. A fanbase accustomed to discovering new and horrible ways to have its collective heart crushed received an unprecendented gift: REAL HOPE.
Quotes from “Pegula Day 2011”:
“Starting today, there will be no financial mandates on the Buffalo Sabres hockey department.”
“Panic doesn’t seem to work. Our feeling is you pick good people and you try to stick with them.”
“Starting today, the Buffalo Sabres’ reason for existence will be to win a Stanley Cup.”
“If I want to make some money, I’ll go drill a gas well.”
“We’ll put the pedal to the metal as capably as we can. I don’t know if it’s wise to spend to the cap every year. But we’re not in this to save money, that’s for sure.”
Nearly 2 years later, after missing the playoffs in 2012 and a rough start in a lockout-shortened season (They’re 1 point out of the playoffs with only 35 games left!), the critics have come forward to perform their postmortem on what doomed the Pegula era.
Here are the (alleged) strikes against Terry Pegula.
1. He’s too generous.
A franchise that has had its recent past defined by letting Chris Drury and Danny Briere leave for richer contracts has been granted the freedom to match and outbid for any player in the league. Oh, the shame.
2. He’s too honest.
With a previous owner in prison and questions about management’s responsibility for mishandling failed contract offers in the past, Terry Pegula has announced where he stands and has stood by his words. Is he insane?
3. He supports the team too much.
To help in recruitment and improve relations across the hockey world, the new owner extended invitations and flew in at his own expense every Sabres alumni and their guests. When Robyn Regehr was thinking about accepting a trade to Buffalo, the Pegulas called him several times and offered to fly out to meet with him. Clearly, the man is a monster!
4. He invests in the franchise… and the city.
From improving facilities and expanding scouting capabilities to committing more than $100 million to downtown development, he is strengthening the future of the franchise and city. The man must be stopped!
5. He trusts his people.
As a fan of the team, Pegula entered his new role as (shocking) a fan of both the coach and the GM. It’s easy to forget, but these two men traded for Danny Briere, built a President’s Trophy team around Chris Drury, and developed Ryan Miller into one of the best goaltenders in the world. Vanek and Pominville have thrived. Darcy Regier and Lindy Ruff have shown signs that they just might know what they are doing and Pegula trusts them to do their jobs, until such time as he decides that he doesn’t. The horror!
6. He’s too patient.
After an improbable playoff run, one disappointing season, and a tepid start to 2013, Terry Pegula has not cleaned house and started from scratch. Compare this with the revolving door of coaches and GM’s in Orchard Park and ask yourself how often a revolving door leads to championship success. The man obviously knows nothing! I’m panicking! Why isn’t he panicking?
7. He’s a fan.
The new owner loves hockey, appreciates the team’s history and accomplishments, and understands how the sport helps define this community. He wants the Sabres to succeed, and is willing to spend money and accept criticism to achieve that success. Oh my god, he’s rooting for the team like he always did but now has the ability to have an impact on the results! Help!
Yes, the Sabres’ performance so far has been disappointing, but how will anything listed above doom this franchise going forward?
There’s been one full NHL season since Pegula took the reigns and, in it, the 8th-seeded Los Angeles Kings took home the Cup.
1 winner. 29 “losers.”
The other 29 teams didn’t all fail. Some are in position to do great things in the future.
The team’s purpose for existence is not to “hurry up and win the Cup so that critics will believe in ownership’s level of commitment, thus putting to bed the 42 seasons seasons of failure that didn’t happen on our watch.”
The stated goal is to win the Cup and then to win it again. The obvious, unstated goal is to be in a position, on a yearly basis, to compete for the division, the conference, and available free agents.
Take a deep breath, Sabres fans.
We’re just getting started.
@ScottyMCSS hyperbolic headline
@ScottyMCSS @sharethis Good article. Instead of reading this, most #Sabres are listening to Chap & the Mutt. Or is it Sheep & the Poodle.
@bojorisin83 Agreed. Brad did a great job combating the new, poisonous Pegula narrative.
@ScottyMCSS You must be talking about @BradRiter. The best talk show host not on #Buffalo radio now.
some very good points. however, re-signing Darcy at this point was a major mistake. even if you think the coach and gm are doing a good job(i think it’s been a mixed bag over the years), it’s time for fresh blood and new voices and ideas. i’m a huge fan of the team and i’m thankful for our great owner but…it doesn’t mean he’s perfect.
@sabrescott You’re mistakenly assuming that a contract can’t be terminated at any point. The moment that Regier is deemed the wrong man for the job, he’s jettisoned. That’s where the “no financial mandates” thing kicks in.
In fairness… Darcy had actually done very well with his hands tied during the Golisano era…. peopel forget tha the had ZERO resources during that time. i personally think that he has done pretty well…. my isssue is with Ruff…. we have had the SAME issues under his tutelage… no matter who is on the roster. there is NOTHING Darcy could’ve done to keep Briere or Drury… people really need to let that shit go.
@BradRiter1 yes but how likely is that to happen? certainly won’t happen any time soon, not that he’s just been re-signed. the mistake was re-signing him in the first place. the other mistake was not starting with a new gm when he took over the team. Mr. Pegula cannot be held responsible for past failures but certainly the coach and gm can be.
@BradRiter1 meant to say now that he’s been re-signed.
@sabrescott @BradRiter1 Again, re-signing him is 100% irrelevant to any decision that is to be made about him in the future.
@BradRiter1 @sabrescott Brad says ” again , re-signing him is 100% irrelevant to any decision that is to be made about him in the future . ” , NOT irrelevant in the future ? I like Regier , but , thinking that he is ” irrelevant ” in the future by firing IS about the future . But , he job is to give Ruff the players to win . He have done that . The question is , why does Ruff still be the head coach ? He should have been fired 7 seasons ago .ANY OTHER team would have .And that even makes the Leafs .
@BradRiter1 sure he has tons of money and can fire anyone at any point but so what? you’re missing the larger point, which is that he has twice evaluated Darcy and decided to keep him. in that respect, i fully agree with Bucky. i’m convinced that we need a change at GM and coach to move the franchise forward.
@BradRiter1 @sabrescott And his contract doesn’t count against the cap. So when it’s terminated the only negative to the team will be the cash it personally costs Terry. I hardly think he’s into throwing that kind of cash away.
great post!!!! Pegula wants to win….and he has spent the money to do it , all you can ask from the owner is be willing to put the right people in the right places …there is no other owner i would rather have..
@DavidFlorio has he really put the right people in the right places? that’s debatable. i’m not down on the owner. i’m very happy to have him. but he seems to be learning on the fly and making personnel mistakes.
@DavidFlorio Willing to put the ” right people in the right places ” ? I don’t think that what Lindsey did as the place in the right places . He only make the playoffs 6 times since being made the head coach of the Sabres . And , that’s even in the last 5 seasons that only seen the Sabres in the playoffs , and sent home in 6 games , ONCE . The team has been over turned twice , in the last 4 years , and 5 times since the ” strike season ” , and still the Sabres can’t win . It’s not the players by now .
yes it is time for Ruff to go I agree, but I dont think Darcy is the problem, and I still think Ruff can be A good coach somewhere else, but his time has come and went here. but I will take the time it may take Pegula to figure some things out he wants to win, that is more then I can say for the last owner..when winning is your number 1 goal and not profit you have won 1/2 the battle….
Brad Riter ignores the issues. He mentions Ruff and Regier once … ONCE … in an article filled with mindless points that I, for one, never make about Pegula without regard to Ruff and Regier. The only point that critics make IS Ruff and Regier are still here. Ignore the issue at hand and make a strawman argument? Terrible journalism and poor forensics.
I am the most critical of critics of what Pegula is doing. That said, I think he will be the owner of the Sabres when they win their first Cup. My only problem, like many, is that he kept Dumb and Dumber around.
I’ll say it again so you don’t get confused.
My only problem is that he kept Lindy Ruff and Darcy Regier in their HIGHLY SUCCESSFUL ROLES (that’s sarcasm, Brad).
Bucky can be shrill but the idea that Pegula is above any criticism is a little ridiculous.
Yes, criticizing him for being passionate or involved in community development is laughable. Questioning his ability to make cold, pragmatic decisions about a coach/GM tandem he clearly has an emotional attachment to is not.
All of these “points” are not what fans have been saying. I love the spending, i love the investments in the downtown area, but when you’ve had (approaching) 3 popes in the Vatican during Lindy’s time behind the bench, in which he’s made the Stanley Cup Finals ONCE on the coattails of an all time great goaltender, and the conference finals twice after a lockout in which rules changes SERIOUSLY favored the quick and small roster Darcy had put together, theres not much else to look at.It really hits home when you consider that the last playoff series we’ve won was in 2007 against the Rangers on goals by CHRIS DRURY AND MAXIM AFINAGENOV. I genuinely think we have a good team, our roster is solid. So why aren’t they playing like it? Sorry Terry but it’s time for a shake up behind the bench. Keep Lindy as a scout if you must but he’s had 14 year, more than most in the business get. Trying the same system year after year and expecting different results is my definition of insanity.
I hated Linda Ruff as a player and even more as coach. If guys like Ken Hitchcock can get fired for winning , then this bonehead should certainly be fired for losing! His system sucks!!!!! He doesn’t use his players very well,… look at Kassian, when he was here. That guy is a beast and was stuck on the 3rd and 4th line, now hes playing on the Sedin line in Vancouver!!! And has the team lead in goals! Smart move trading him Darcy.
@camiles1978 yes the players that Kassian were traded for have done nothing…Hodgson and Saulcer have more goals and points then Kaassin, that was a hockey trade that helped both teams, also Kassin after the trade did not go to Vancouver and play on the first line, he has matured as a player…but that was far from a bad trade..look at Vanek’s Numbers since he got a true playmaking center…
@camiles1978 hodgson 5 goals 7 assists SAUCER 3 GOALS..Kassian 5 goals 1 assist….wow what a bad trade…lol
I really would like to know why Brad got his info. from . Must be the same people who think King Hussein is doing a bang up job in running the country . The only thing that me , and a most of the fans of the Sabres , like what Terry Pegalu is doing in Buffalo . What we don’t like , is hanging on to Ruff . ( Some say it’s about Regier , I don’t ) . You can’t expect to win when you’re using the same playbook from 1998 . Most team owners , would have canned Ruff for only making the playoffs ONCE in the last 5 seasons ! But , hanging on a coach who only made 6 times in LAST 14 SEASONS ???? Come on Pegalu ! If you are serious about winning a Cup , or two , you aren’t going to win one with Ruff at the helm . His ” record ” proves it .
@DwightHill If anyone had the over on a poster responding with a “OBMAZ A SECRET MUSLIN!!!!!111111111111” comparison, you win.
Ugh, Buffalo’s terrible.
As cute as this article is, Mr. Pegula did state that our sole purpose is to win the cup. He said that to a city that has waited a lifetime to see the Sabres win the cup. Clearly, the team’s performance has gotten worse since he took over. I blame him only for raising the “hope tank” of the city, and doing nothing while the team gets worse and worse each year. If Mr. Pegula is a fan of the team, how can this continue if he is serious about winning the Cup when the team can’t make the playoffs. I understand that he may have respect for and even like Darcy and Lindy, but you can friend them on Facebook and tell them how great of a feeling it is to win the Cup with the new GM and coach! Mr. Pegula, please do not let your feelings for your friends get in the way of running this hockey team. Oh, and thank you for keeping the team here, the work you put into the Center, and for what you are doing downtown.
@DouglasTrafalski you must not pay attention or you have to be one of those uneducated people that call the whiner line everyday…. they have tried to get players in free agency that will help the team, but the player decided to go elsewhere, the fact is Pegula will spend the money to get the players, but what they have found out is that they may have to build from the minors, I agree Ruff should go it is time to part ways, THE Sabres do have some talent but there are still more pieces needed.. Pegula was serious when he said the sole purpose is to win the cup, the fact is we are not there yet. the team has not gotten worse since he took over, you need to check your facts on that.