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Volume 24 No. 112


Sabres Owner Terry Pegula on Friday "repeatedly stressed discipline, structure, communication and character" while discussing the firing of GM Tim Murray and coach Dan Bylsma, according to John Vogl of the BUFFALO NEWS. Pegula during a 15-minute press conference said, "Accountability starts with me. We are not happy with our season this year, and there are no excuses. Six years ago, I stood here and told the Buffalo Sabres fans that the reason for our existence was to win the Stanley Cup. That is still the truth. One team wins the Cup. We expected more this season.” Vogl notes in "accepting blame," Pegula acknowledged he "wished he was more involved in the hiring of Murray four years ago." Pegula added that he and his wife, Kim, "interviewed Murray and Bylsma separately this week." He said that he had "not decided to remove" the two prior to the meetings (, 4/21). In Buffalo, Mike Harrington writes it was a "good thing" to see Pegula address the media. The short duration of the press conference "left lots of questions unanswered," but it was still "informative." Harrington: "Even if you don't agree with some of his answers or philosophies ... it was worth hearing it from him." The "biggest takeaway" was when Pegula "clearly swiped at Murray with his discussion for the need for better communication, structure and character in his organization." It is "well-known Kim Pegula was not fond of Murray's style and it would appear Terry agreed" (, 4/21).

STARTING AT THE TOP: In Buffalo, Bucky Gleason writes the Sabres' current problems "begin and end with ownership." Terry Pegula "arrived with grandiose goals but no real plans when he purchased the team." But the Pegulas "didn't make changes when obvious changes were needed." Gleason: "They listened to the wrong people. They were in over their heads." They "can begin acknowledging that they made numerous mistakes, admitting that they trusted the wrong people and accepting responsibility." Gleason: "It starts with them understanding that they don't have all the answers, either" (BUFFALO NEWS, 4/21). USA TODAY's Kevin Allen wrote the Pegulas "bear much of the responsibility for the Sabres’ troubles." The Sabres were a playoff team when the Pegulas bought them in '11, but they have "missed the playoffs for six consecutive seasons under their stewardship." They keep "hiring new people, but getting similar results." Allen: "They must not be asking the right questions" (, 4/20). THE HOCKEY NEWS' Ken Campbell wrote Pegula has been a "disaster as an owner" in "every tangible way that can be measured in on-ice performance." The next coach the Sabres hire will be the fifth of Pegula's tenure. Campbell: "Terry Pegula got the Sabres into this mess and it’s imperative that he gets them out. ... The sooner Pegula makes the right choices in Buffalo and gets out of his own way, the better off the Sabres are going to be" (, 4/20). 

IN NEED OF A PLAN: In Buffalo, Mike Harrington asked, "What plan do these owners have to fix this hockey team now?" The Pegulas "keep showing over and over again they don't have a clue what it takes to run a professional sports franchise and now they're left to pick up the mess from the botched tank that was sold to them as the quick-fix plan to a Stanley Cup." The Sabres' tanking "worked because it brought" on C Jack Eichel, but it also "created a culture where losing was acceptable, where the fan base was irreparably torn." Sabres President Russ Brandon needs to "do something -- anything -- to make the season ticket-holders feel appreciated and then stay away from the rest of the operation." It is time for the Sabres to "get a real president of hockey to run this operation because the owners have no business picking a general manager or coach" (, 4/20).

DETACH YOURSELF AS A FAN:'s John Shannon wrote the "disconnect" Sabres players had with Bylsma "pervaded into the owner's suite." Shannon: "That’s not healthy." An owner has to "trust what your manager believes." It "probably isn’t in the best interest of the franchise, if the whim of a fan becomes team policy." It is a "recipe for disaster." The rebuild "isn’t anywhere near finished, and now they have fired the architect." Shannon: "You can’t run a professional sports organization if you’re a fan" (, 4/20).

The NFL on Thursday night released its '17 schedule, and the Rams and Chargers will split L.A. in "half on three separate days" next season, according to Vincent Bonsignore of the L.A. DAILY NEWS. Both teams will play simultaneous home games Sept. 17, Dec. 12 and Dec. 31, but by using each team's bye weeks, five mutual opponents and Thursday and Monday night appearances, the schedule-makers "managed to soften the blow as much as possible." There will be a New Year’s Eve home and home in the form of a "NorCal vs. SoCal rivalry feast" in which the 49ers visit the Rams at the Coliseum and the Raiders play the Chargers at StubHub Center. These are "interesting new times for fans, too, as many will use the next few years to decide which team to support." The schedule and how it plays out "could play a role" (L.A. DAILY NEWS, 4/21).

RUN THIS TOWN: In L.A. Bill Plaschke writes the NFL "pushed the Chargers forward into the spotlight while leaving the Rams hanging on the edge of the shadows." The Chargers "got New Year’s Eve against the Raiders, Thanksgiving in Dallas, and a StubHub debut" against the Dolphins. The Rams "got Sunday in London, Thursday in traffic in Santa Clara, and three games wallowing in a mess left by USC." The Chargers will "own the town at the end of a schedule in which the NFL seemingly purposely designed to help them establish themselves." Plaschke: "The league scheduled the Rams and Chargers to play on the same day, at the same time, three times! Instead of attempting to build this market as a two-team town, they are forcing fans to make a hard choice" (L.A. TIMES, 4/21). In L.A., Sam Farmer notes the Rams and Chargers will "eventually share a stadium in Inglewood" for the '19 season. NFL Senior Dir of Broadcasting Michael North said, "Truth be told, this is as easy as it's going to get for us. Because as soon as they start sharing a stadium they're the Jets and Giants, and obviously only one can be at home each day." NFL games have not been played simultaneously in the same market "since before" '83, when the Giants and Jets "began sharing a stadium" (L.A. TIMES, 4/21).

After three years in which the Dodgers "capped season tickets at 35,000 and established a waiting list, season tickets are currently on sale for all levels of Dodger Stadium, at a prorated price," according to Bill Shaikin of the L.A. TIMES. In the '15-16 offseason, the Dodgers said they had "several thousand" fans on the waiting list. Now, "barely more than a year later, there is no list." The Dodgers have "sold 8.5% fewer tickets for their first 10 home games this year than they did last year." Dodgers VP/Ticket Sales David Siegel said, "We’re still shooting to be No. 1 in baseball. That’s where we expect to be." Siegel "declined to say what reasons fans have offered for not renewing season tickets" (L.A. TIMES, 4/21).

POPULARITY CONTEST: A Loyola Marymount survey of Los Angeles County residents shows the Dodgers have become "more popular than the Lakers ... for the first time in four years." The Dodgers got 36% of the vote, just topping the Lakers' 35%. The Clippers were the third-highest ranking team, with 7%. The survey was "conducted in January by the Thomas and Dorothy Leavey Center for the Study of Los Angeles" and asked 2,400 county residents, "What is your favorite professional sports team with L.A. in its name?” (, 4/18).

MLS Commissioner Don Garber on Thursday "revealed that 'a committee of owners' have come together to 'evaluate what's happening in Miami'" in regards to David Beckham's "stalled expansion team plans, which have been bogged down by an ongoing search for a stadium site," according to Joe Lago of YAHOO SPORTS. Speaking at the '17 CAA World Congress of Sports, Garber said the "'very complicated' topic will be discussed further" at the league's BOG meeting in Colorado next week. Garber praised Beckham as a "special guy" and said MLS would still "like to see him as an owner in our league." Garber said, "In a world with less public funding in large cities, it's not just complicated. It's really, really expensive even with a low-cost option with David Beckham and [partner] Simon Fuller to have to come into our league. It's a half-a-billion-dollar project." He added, "As we've learned -- as we've been growing our league carefully and in a very strategic way -- is that we'd rather wait. And wait and wait on questions like this ... before making a bad decision" (, 4/21).

BLOOMBERG NEWS' Scott Soshnick cited a source as saying that Baseball HOFer Tom Glavine is "part of a group" led by Boston-based investment firm Solamere Capital Managing Partner Tagg Romney attempting to buy the Marlins. Romney's bid "doesn’t include his father, Mitt" the former GOP presidential candidate. Other "final bidders for the team are groups that include" Quogue Capital Founder Wayne Rothbaum, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and former MLBer Derek Jeter (BLOOMBERG NEWS, 4/20). 

: Blue Jackets execs said that a "number of business metrics trended up" during the '16-17 season, the "best ever" for the 17-year-old franchise. Blue Jackets Senior VP & CRO Cameron Scholvin said that the team saw an 8% "bump in ticket sales." Blue Jackets Dir of Communications Karen Davis said that the team also "recorded 12 sell-outs during the regular season," which was "up from four in the prior season." Scholvin also said that '17-18 ticket sales are "going strong" (, 4/20). 

: MLL Chesapeake Bayhawks Owner & CEO Brendan Kelly "admits he's lost millions of dollars" since acquiring the franchise in '10, even though the Bayhawks "rank among the most successful franchises in terms of ticket sales and sponsorship support." But in Annapolis, Bill Wagner notes Kelly "remains as enthusiastic" about MLL as the day he "purchased a stake in the sport." Bayhawks President Mark Burdett said, "This league has unlimited potential. We just need to get all the owners and all the league officials on the same page strategically. I would term selection of the next commissioner as critical to the future of the league" (Annapolis CAPITAL GAZETTE, 4/21).