The Buffalo Sabres under the new ownership of Terry Pegula is a story of hope similar to what long time suffering Chicago Blackhawks fans felt when Rocky Wirtz took over and started making positive changes. And the story of Pegula’s rise from season ticket-holding fan to NHL owner is a hockey fairy tale in itself.
To summarize, in 1975 Pegula, then 24, watches the upstart Sabres lose to the Philadelphia Flyers in the Stanley Cup Finals after only 5 years of existence. He’s hooked. In 1983 he borrows $7,500 from family and friends to start an independent oil and gas exploration company. He tells his business partner, “If I ever have more than two nickels to my name, I’m going to buy the Buffalo Sabres one day.”
Fast forward to 2010 and Pegula sells his company to Royal Dutch Shell for a cool $4.7 billion. That same year Terry and his wife donate $88 million to his alma mater, Penn State, to establish a Division I hockey team and build both a state-of-the-art arena and a practice facility. Just 5 months later, in February 2011, Pegula makes good on his promise and purchases the Buffalo Sabres.
The man obviously knows how to get things done and fans in Buffalo are hoping Pegula’s proactivity and good fortune spill over to the product on the ice. Tim Redinger of FanSided’s Sabre Noise continues the story from here and lets us know what to expect from this year’s Sabres team:
It doesn’t seem like that long ago that we were writing a eulogy for the 2010-2011 Buffalo Sabres, and here we are writing the preview for the next year. How much has changed? Everything. It started with a culture change, and now from the locker room out, the Buffalo Sabres enter next year as the first full season with a truly committed ownership group that is determined to not only bring a championship to the city of Buffalo, but to create a hockey nirvana in the Nickel City.
The culture change shock was felt immediately when Terry Pegula took over the team last February. The Buffalo Sabres were already surging up the standings after a subpar first half of the year. Remember the smiles on the faces of the Sabres alumni on Fan Appreciation night when there was more Blue and Gold heart in the downtown Buffalo area since the last game at the Aud? Can you imagine the look on the faces of Rene Robert, Gil Perreault, Jim Lorentz, Danny Gare, and the like if the Buffalo Sabres were able to have a early summer party with Lord Stanley? That’s what the goal is here, and it has started from the inside bowels of the arena, to the once ice product.