Ownership

I’m honestly stunned by the depth of emotion that I felt listening to Terry Pegula talk today. I’m such a new fan, and I’ve been doing this for such a relatively small percentage of my life. I can’t imagine what it felt like for some of you to listen to Terry Pegula this morning- you who have cheered for this team for as long as you can remember. It’s almost like a dream. He feels too good to be true.

_______

In some ways, it feels like Sabres fans have won the lottery. How did this happen to us? To this franchise? Where did this billionaire come from, and why did he choose Buffalo? It’s like a little fairy tale. Yesterday we were just a lowly servant girl, and today, here we are, in the ballroom, in a beautiful dress, with a prince on our arm. How did this happen?

On the other hand, it was shockingly easy to relate to Terry Pegula today. He’s not a prince that came out of nowhere. He’s one of us. He’s one of us who got very rich, and who now has the chance to live a dream we’ve all had. What could be more fun, and more joyful than buying the Buffalo Sabres? How incredible was it to witness such an accomplished man, overwhelmed with emotion by a dream fulfilled? And then, AND THEN, how thrilling to think, “That’s exactly how I’d feel if I bought the Sabres. I feel you, Terry Pegula. I really do.”

It felt like WE were buying the Sabres today.

I’ve been thinking a lot today about the word “ownership”. For the past few years under Golisano’s reign, it’s felt a little like the team owned us. In some sense, all sports fans are held captive by their love for their team. We have no control over the people running the teams that we love, and those people have every right to run things however they see fit. I believe strongly that Tom Golisano was, for the most part, a good owner. He kept the franchise healthy and robust. But we heard so much, too much, about the viability of the franchise, and insuring the future of the NHL in the region. We absolutely needed Golisano (and we thank him for the stability that he provided), but at the end of the day, he owned the Sabres, and we were just the customers. Winning was always secondary to the bottom line, and that was never a secret.

Today it felt like in some symbolic but significant way, ownership was transferred back to the fans. After all, Terry Pegula is one of us. He’s a Sabres fan. He stood before us and made us believe that for the first time in the history of the franchise, money is no object, and the only goal is a Stanley Cup.

Terry Pegula wants more from the players, and more from the coaching staff, and more from the scouts, and more from free agency, and more from trade deadline day. Tom Golisano always wanted more from us.

If Terry Pegula is to be believed, the success of this franchise will no longer be measured by the collective buying power of the fanbase. We, the fans of the Sabres, are more than enough for Terry Pegula’s purposes. From now on, success will only be measured in wins and losses, and hopefully someday, in Stanley Cups.

Today was a victory for Sabres fans. This new owner wants the same thing that we want, and he wants it just as badly. Hell, he might want it more. Terry Pegula said, “If I want to make some money, I’ll go drill a gas well.” This isn’t about money. This is no longer about money. This is now about the very same things that made all of us into Sabres fans. This is about pride, and love, and passion, and community, but most of all, this is about ownership of something beautiful.

What I realized today is that you don’t have to be a billionaire to own the best of the Sabres. But you do have to be a fan.

Welcome to Buffalo, Terry Pegula. We’re so happy that you are here. Let’s get to work.

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10 Responses to “Ownership”


  1. 2 KevinP February 22, 2011 at 10:20 pm

    Once upon a time, back before sports became solely about the money, there were owners who were called “sportsmen”.

    These people, men such as Seymour and Nordie Knox, owned sports teams (or clubs, as they were sometimes referred to) for the sole purpose of the thrill of owning the team.

    I’m not naive enough to pretend that everyone can or would still want to do this today, but Mr. Pegula strikes me as a throwback to this better day, and I am thrilled to have him owning my hockey team.

  2. 3 Mark B February 22, 2011 at 10:23 pm

    I was shocked how moved I was by the press conference, especially the raw emotion when Terry broke down about Gilbert. All the things he said we’re exactly what we wanted to hear, but it was the honest emotions that got me. What a wonderful day for us Sabres fans.

  3. 4 Katebits February 22, 2011 at 10:38 pm

    You know Kevin, I’m getting increasingly curious about the Knox’. Everyone speaks so affectionately about them! I wasn’t sure about my “for the first time in the history of the franchise, money is no object” statement. I love the idea of “sportsmen”. So…old school.

    I know, Mark. I KNOW. WOOOOOOOOOOO!!

  4. 5 Browndog February 22, 2011 at 11:25 pm

    “…have you ever seen Gilbert Perreault skate?”

    Yes indeed, Mr. Pegula gets “it”.

    If Seymour and Norty were alive today, they would be proud to have Mr. Pegula take the reigns of their “baby”.

  5. 6 Mike February 23, 2011 at 12:15 am

    The Knoxes were wonderful. Used to sit two rows above them in the days BEFORE owner boxes. Can you imagine?
    Anyway while the Knoxes did own the Sabres (which were truly their baby) for the thrill of ownership and weren’t shy about spending until the end, they were so different from Pegula. While Pegula is a self-made man that came from nothing, the Knoxes were the bluest of blue bloods. They went to Yale and played competitive Polo. The Knox fortune was forged in their empire of five and dime stores, one of the first such chains founded in the US, in the 19th century. Yet despite their roots, the Knoxes were Buffalo through and through. They were just the products of a Buffalo that really no longer exists and I fear may not again.

  6. 7 Julia February 23, 2011 at 8:17 am

    I made the comment while watching the news last night, “T-Pegs is just..”

    (Husband interrupts), “T-what? Who?”

    (hits husband in arm) “Pegula! T-Pegs! Anyway, he’s so awesome. I mean, it would be like if you came into money and suddenly could buy the Sabres. HOW FREAKING COOL WOULD THAT BE??? I mean, that’s what I think it’s like for him. Look at him! This means more to him than, ‘Oh, the Sabres will be a good investment of my money.'”

    (Husband distracted by the news story) “Did he just say what I think he said about money? OH MY GOD!”

    Me: “Yeah! YEAH!!”

    We’re excited along with you Kate!

  7. 8 ToonTom February 23, 2011 at 9:48 am

    All the reasons Pegula gave for loving the Sabres were pretty much the same reasons I became a fan 38 years ago. He had me at Perreault.

  8. 9 boonies February 25, 2011 at 7:25 am

    Katebits,I now reside in the Blue Ridge Mtns of WNC but was a lifelong WNYer and sabre fan from 1970 onward.
    Down this way ,the locals have a saying about a newcomer to the area…with a friendly smile they will say “You aren’t FROM here,are you?”A gentle way of letting you know they see a difference between you(y’all) and them.
    In every Buffalo sense of the phrase,Terry is FROM here!!!!! He does “get it”!!
    Your Cinderella analogy was dead-on…but isn’t here where we all wake up and hit the alarm clock?
    NOT ANY MORE!!!


  1. 1 A Wonderful Pegula Day Synopsis; Paille On Thin Ice, Again | buffalo74 Trackback on February 23, 2011 at 8:07 am

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