SBD/Issue 56/Franchises

Pegula Expected To Sign Letter Of Intent To Purchase Sabres

Pegula Expected To Meet With NHL Officials
Regarding Sabres Either Yesterday Or Today

East Resources President & CEO Terry Pegula traveled to N.Y. last night, "presumably to sign a letter of intent to purchase" the Sabres from Owner Tom Golisano and "possibly meet with NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman," according to Bucky Gleason of the BUFFALO NEWS. Pegula "was expected to meet with league officials" last night or early today at NHL HQs. He "was believed to have signed, or will sign Wednesday, a deal that would give him the franchise for an undisclosed amount," but all signs are "pointed toward him taking over the franchise within the next two months." The Hockey News yesterday reported that Pegula "signed a letter of intent to buy the Sabres for $150 million, which the organization denied." But a source said that the "only error in the report was the purchase price," as it is "believed to be considerably higher." Meanwhile, another report indicated that Pegula "would be introduced at the NHL Board of Governors meetings next week" in Palm Beach; that has yet to be confirmed. Any new ownership agreement "would need approval from 23 owners, which doesn't figure to be a problem for Pegula given his reputation and wealth" (BUFFALO NEWS, 12/1). Sabres Managing Partner Larry Quinn yesterday said The Hockey News report "is not true." Quinn: "We have not signed a letter of intent with anybody. That's all I'm going to say at this time." ESPN.com's Pierre LeBrun noted Quinn "would not comment about Pegula's possible interest," but a source said that Pegula "has expressed interest in possibly buying the team" (ESPN.com, 11/30). A source said of Golisano selling the team, “I don't know how serious Tom is. He's giving it serious consideration but hasn't made up his mind." Though the Sabres “aren't for sale or actively seeking a buyer, they have been open to entertaining offers from prospective buyers” (AP, 12/1).

INSIDE THE DEAL: THE HOCKEY NEWS' Ken Campbell noted Pegula in signing a letter of intent "still has an out, but the team cannot be sold to anyone else." A source said that an announcement of the sale of the Sabres is "expected sometime in late December or early January." Both the Sabres and the NHL "will scream up and down that $150 million is too little for the team," but industry sources said that the price tag "is about right." Campbell noted Golisano has sold a "small part of his interest in the team" to Quinn and COO Dan DiPofi. The source said that Pegula "will likely pick up their portions of the team as well," though there is a "good chance both Quinn and DiPofi will remain in their current positions with the organization." Campbell wrote Pegula buying the team "can be nothing but good news for the Sabres" since he is a "hockey guy through and through and with a net worth of about $3 billion -- he's the 110th richest man" in the U.S. Pegula and his wife, Kim, "recently donated $88 million to Penn State University to help build an arena on campus and create Division I hockey programs for both men and women" (THEHOCKEYNEWS.com, 11/30). YAHOO SPORTS' Greg Wyshynski wrote there "should be no worries about Pegula moving the Sabres at all, if he's in fact the new owner." Pegula is a "lifelong hockey fan and a Sabres fan whose son, Michael, played youth hockey in the rinks around Buffalo" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 11/30).

PLAYERS REACT: Sabres LW Patrick Kaleta said of the potential sale, "Our job is to come in here, play the game, worry about the game and what goes on on the ice. Stuff off the ice, sometimes you can't control and you've just got to roll with the punches and focus on your job. That's what we're trying to do." Sabres G Ryan Miller: "I don't have an every-day relationship with Tom Golisano but he's been tremendous to me as a player. He did a great job at coming at the right time and helping the Buffalo franchise so I have a lot of respect for what he's done for hockey." But Miller added, "As far as the ownership, we don't see him every day so we have to do our business. ... We're under contract with the organization. If the organization changes hands, it's something to consider just from an environment standpoint" (BUFFALO NEWS, 12/1).

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