Facilities & Franchises: Sabres Owner Pegula Kept A Lower Profile In '11-12
Sabres Owner Terry Pegula was featured in a one-on-one interview during the SBD/SBJ Sports Facilities & Franchises conference and said he purposely lowered his public profile during the '11-12 hockey season to lessen pressure on his players. After Pegula purchased the team in February '11, he boldly stated, "Starting today, the Buffalo Sabres' reason for existence will be to win the Stanley Cup." That remains the case, buttressed in part by a recent, multi-million dollar improvement to the Sabres' locker room and training facilities at First Niagara Center. The former oil-and-gas exec acknowledged that sports team ownership has been an adjustment. "I definitely made a decision to step back a bit this past season," Pegula said. "At the same time, you can't be an absentee owner. So it's been about finding a balance."
SUPER MODELS: A lifelong hockey fan, Pegula said he talks to team GM Darcy Regier at least three times a day to discuss player personnel, and noted that he wants to model the Sabres in part after the Red Wings, Patriots and Steelers. "Those teams are very steady, very consistent, don't overreact and are absolutely committed to excellence," Pegula said.
- On the Sabres' turbulent '11-12 season, in which G Ryan Miller and D Tyler Myers suffered injuries and the team failed to make the playoffs: "There's an adage that you should win despite injuries. But guess what? You don't. Health is an absolutely critical factor in determining your success."
- On the NHL's oft-debated presence in non-traditional markets, such as in the Southeast and Southwest: "I'm a big believer in building and growing the league in the Sun Belt areas."
- On spending on players: "I don't make decisions based foremost on money. The first thing, the main thing we look at, is what the player's contributions are, and what his gifts are. I've never made a decision about money. It may seem hard to believe, but it's true."
- On NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman: "He's a tough negotiator. A very smart guy. He's become a friend."
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