SBD/February 23, 2011/Franchises

New Owner Terry Pegula Willing To Spend To Help Sabres Win Stanley Cup

Pegula says front office will
not have any financial restraints
Terry Pegula, who was officially introduced as Sabres owner yesterday, said that he "will dip into his deep pockets to bring a championship team to Buffalo," according to Alan Adams of FANHOUSE.com. Pegula: "If I want to make some money, I'll go drill a gas well. Starting today, the Buffalo Sabres' reason for existence will be to win a Stanley Cup." Pegula added, "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." After saying that GM Darcy Regier and coach Lindy Ruff "will be back," Pegula "all but promised a blank check to Regier." Pegula: "Darcy will run a hockey department that I have previously said will have no financial mandates. We're cutting the chains off and he's free to run with whatever he wants to do with scouting, player development, working with Lindy and the coaches. We're going to pour some resources into that area of the team. There is no salary cap in the National Hockey League on scouting budgets and player-development budgets. I plan on increasing, working with Darcy and the guys, increasing our scouting budget with bodies on the ground in areas we might not be hitting, and enhancing our video department. ... We will aspire to be the best in the league at finding, developing and keeping our players in their new Buffalo Sabre family" (FANHOUSE.com, 2/22). Pegula will serve as CEO of the Sabres. Former FSN Pittsburgh Senior VP & GM and former Penguins VP/Business & Legal Affairs Ted Black will serve as President, while former Penguins CEO Ken Sawyer will serve as a Senior Adviser. Sabres COO Dan DiPofi, "who had a minor ownership stake under Golisano," will remain in his position (BIZJOURNALS.com, 2/22).  

WHATEVER IT TAKES: Pegula on Versus' "NHL Overtime" last night said "the chains are off." Pegula: "It's pedal to the metal. I said today there'll be no financial mandates on our hockey department -- scouting, player development -- and I meant that. I'm going to do whatever it takes financially within a reasonable means. Nobody likes to waste money, but if we're going to lose money and spend too much, it's going to be on the scouting and player development side." Versus' Jeremy Roenick said Pegula is "exactly what the National Hockey League and Gary Bettman wants in Buffalo." Versus' Billy Jaffe said "Buffalo gets kind of a bad rap," but players "love playing there." If you have a "hands-on, energetic owner, it's only going to raise the profile of that team" ("NHL Overtime," Versus, 2/22).

NO. 1 FAN: In Buffalo, John Vogl writes Pegula's introduction was an "unquestioned success in HSBC Arena." He "laughed, cried and proved himself to be a Buffalo guy, albeit one with deep pockets" (BUFFALO NEWS, 2/23). Also in Buffalo, Mike Harrington writes the "signature moment" of Pegula's introduction was when he said that he "couldn't look to his right." He "couldn't look at the section of the HSBC Arena atrium where the team's alumni were sitting because once he saw Gilbert Perreault, he'd break down and cry." But Pegula "did look," and he told Perrault, "You're my hero." And "then he did cry." Harrington: "His love for the old Sabres certainly will help Pegula connect with the alumni, who became increasingly distressed by the reign of Tom Golisano and Larry Quinn" (BUFFALO NEWS, 2/23). NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman, who introduced Pegula, said, "He loves the game and this is a dream come true for him. It's also a dream come true for the league because we know this franchise is in great hands" (AP, 2/22).

FRESH SET OF EYES: In Buffalo, Bucky Gleason writes Pegula is a "diehard fan, but the key to reaching the goal will be making sure he doesn't operate like one." The Sabres "will need an objective evaluation as they move forward to ensure sentiment doesn't cloud their judgment," and Pegula "took a step toward juggling both after hiring" Black and Sawyer. Both men "have good reputations and sound experience, something that had been missing behind ... Regier for much of his tenure." Black and Sawyer "bring a fresh set of eyes from the outside to examine the organization" (BUFFALO NEWS, 2/23). Also in Buffalo, Jerry Sullivan writes Sabres fans are "ready for real change, for a fresh start." They have "had enough of the slow, tentative approach." Sullivan: "Leave Regier in the GM's chair for now if you have to. But this team needs to be judged through a fresh set of eyes, someone with no emotional ties to anyone on the roster. The sooner the job comes open, the better. That way, any potential candidates will know the Buffalo job is available and the wheels of change can begin to turn" (BUFFALO NEWS, 2/23).
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