A New Owner Leads to New Hope for Fans
By Steven Zapel
As of Feb. 22, 2011, the Buffalo Sabres will officially be under new ownership. Terry Pegula has purchased the team from its former owner Tom Golisano for approximately $189 million. A press conference was scheduled for 11a.m. today at HSBC arena to introduce Pegula as the new owner.
Pegula will be taking over a team that was last year’s Eastern Conference’s North East division winner and currently sits 4 points out of the 8th and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference this season. The Sabres are coming off a 2-1 loss to Washington on Sunday, capping a three game losing streak.
The Sabres have gone 5-4-1 in their last 10 games and desperately need to start winning more than half of their games if they hope to have a playoff spot at the end of the season. The Sabres do not take the ice again until Wednesday against Atlanta, and by then will be completely under the control of Pegula.
Buffalo fans hope the new ownership will spark new life in the team, aiding them in their push for a playoff spot. While most fans are hoping Pegula brings new life to the team, many fans are more interested in the changes Pegula will make to the coaching staff or roster.
The 2010-2011 NHL trade deadline is less than a week away, Feb. 28 at 3 p.m. eastern time, and Pegula has suggested that the Sabres will be busy trying to move players and improve the team before the deadline. He has stated that he has a short list of players on the team currently that he considers “untouchable,” but other than those few players anyone on the team could possibly be traded if Pegula feels the move improves the Sabres roster.
Fans are also interested in what Pegula will do with the current coaching staff and front office. While Head Coach Lindy Ruff and General Manager Darcy Regier are widely held in great esteem around the league, many fans here in Buffalo believe dire changes need to be made to the Front Office if the team is to move forward and become a consistent threat to win the Stanley Cup. Pegula has not said anything about his plans for Ruff or Regier, but in past situations new owners generally like to bring in their guys to fill those positions, and Pegula has no prior loyalties to either Ruff or Regier.
With the impending trade deadline approaching quickly, Sabres fans will not have to wait long to see what kind of vision Pegula has for the team and essentially what kind of owner he will be. Buffalo fans have experienced their fair share of heartache and disappointment and all hopes lay heavily on the shoulders of Pegula to bring a championship to this town, like he claimed he would.