Sometimes Things Change

As Sabres fans over the last few years we’ve been repeatedly told that the for the good of the franchise, and to ensure the future of the franchise, the organization has to move cautiously and prudently.  I’ve always believed that the Sabres have intelligent businessmen running the show, and so I’ve never questioned their conservative philosophy from a business perspective.  I believe it when the Sabres tell us that their profit margin is narrow, and I think Golisano has every right to demand that his business balances their books.

Every Sabres fan owes Golisano a “Thanks, man,” for way he stepped in and restored the Sabres as viable Buffalo institution.  So yes, we’re grateful to Tom Golisano.


What if it were different?

What if we had an owner who cared about winning above all else? What if the next owner is comfortable losing a few million dollars here and there?  What if the new guy wants to treat the Sabres like his own personal fantasy hockey team?  What if when the Sabres suck, people lose their jobs?  What if someone tells Darcy Reiger, “Shut up about draft picks and stop calling 18-year-old boys, ‘assets’.  Build me a winner right now.”   What if Larry Quinn doesn’t work for the Sabres anymore?  What if Terry Pegula cares as much as us?  What if he’s annoyed when the games are boring?  What if  he wants to own a team in Buffalo, not because of tax breaks and profit margins and sound investments, but so that he can win a Cup?

In Buffalo we’ve been systematically taught that, above all else, stability is the number one goal.  But what if Terry Pegula comes in and says, “The Sabres are stable because I own them.  End of story.”

What if Terry Pegula is just doing this for fun?


I find these questions electrifying.  I understand that there are perfectly good reasons to temper my enthusiasm about this random stranger, but I don’t care.  The most frustrating thing about being a Sabres fan over the last few years has been the sense that nothing will ever change.  New ownership challenges that notion, and I am incredibly excited about the possibilities.  I don’t want to be prudent, and I don’t want to be cautious.  Hell, I don’t even want to be reasonable.  I’m savoring this chance to dream big, and I think you should too.

Sometimes things do change, and this could change everything.

Let’s go Buff-a-lo!


8 Responses to “Sometimes Things Change”

  1. 1 S. Tooth December 1, 2010 at 7:22 pm

    As a Buffalo fan, it takes a lot for me to be actually excited and optimistic about something, and you’ve succeeded in making me even more excited about this. I almost feel guilty about it though.

  2. 2 ToonTom December 2, 2010 at 10:24 am

    It doesn’t take a hockey genius to realize that what Sabres lack, other than for our goalie, are genuine superstars – players who can carry a team, make it better etc. Look at teams that have won the Cups – Toews AND Kane, Crosby AND Malkin, Datysuk AND Lidstrom. Can anyone honestly put two names like these together on the Sabres? Unfortunately not.

    IMHO, it’s because management has been handcuffed by this internal salary cap. Players who succeed are gone because they don’t get what they want – their replacements have paled in comparison. When was the last time the Sabres made a splash in free agency? Or with a trade?

    And so we sit with a team struggling. There is a core there but to me there is no sense to build around it, nor is there a sense of urgency.

    Would Pegula be better? I don’t know but I’d be willing to try because the status quo is simply not acceptable. I want we had in 2006 and I want it to last for years, not fizzle after two. I don’t think we’ll see that ever with the current ownership.

  3. 3 Katebits December 2, 2010 at 1:05 pm

    I agree with most of what you say here ToonTom, except I don’t think Darcy has been too handicapped by the internal cap. Yeah, they’re a few million under the cap, but not an alarming amount. Darcy just hasn’t made good choices in the last three years. Look at this chart. The Sabres are in the same basic ballpark (cap space-wise) as the Caps, the Leafs and the Kings. The Sabres’ internal cap isn’t that prohibitive.

    Honestly, I think any incoming owner could justify canning Darcy right off the bat. I wouldn’t be strenuously opposed to keeping him on just to see if under a new management philosophy he could perform better, but I really don’t think it’s the unused caps space that has been holding this team back.

  4. 4 Matt December 2, 2010 at 4:39 pm

    Kate, you’ve single-handedly gotten me excited about hockey this year. I’ve been struggling hard with both the Sabres and the Devils playing like crap. I can’t get excited to watch games on tv, I’m not watching the waiver wires like a hawk, I’m just not into it.

    My initial reaction to Pegula was “OMG, he’s a Flyers fan straight out of the seventies. He’ll make us into goons!” I never considered that he could very well buy the team just because he likes hockey and not because it has to be profitable. The idea of somebody that treats it like a grand adventure has got my spine tingling and giving me goose bumps. I’ve got the fever and the only prescription is HOCKEY!

    So basically, thanks. You made my week.

  5. 5 Katebits December 2, 2010 at 5:48 pm

    Aw! Thanks, Matt! I can highly recommend Bucky Gleason’s recent columns if you want to read more about Pegula. And Schopp and the Bulldog have been talking about this nonstop for three days, so I’m sure they have lots of good stuff on the WGR website. I’ve been DEVOURING this news. I’m totally totally on board. WOOOOOOOOO!

  6. 6 GaryMac December 2, 2010 at 11:13 pm

    I guess we could finish last like the Hawks for 10 yrs , would you still be a fan ??

  7. 7 kitten December 3, 2010 at 3:54 pm

    Golisano made his millions in accounting after all. But it’s not a business that is about risk taking.

    Pegula, on the other hand, made his millions in a highly speculative, dangerous business, basically guessing how and where the earth will yield up combustable materials.

    I’m pretty sure he will go balls to the wall for a Cup. Be excited.

    (Is it okay to say “Balls to the Wall”? I know you are trying to keep things classy)

  8. 8 lifeinspoons December 4, 2010 at 7:00 pm

    I’m going to be a know-it-all jerk for a second…

    “Balls to the wall” is a term used by pilots when accelerating quickly because you push the knobs of the throttle as far as it will go (against a wall). It’s actually a pretty clean phrase despite how it sounds.


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