Late in the summer of 2010 a guy named Terry Pegula gave a bunch of money to Penn State in order to lift their hockey program from the ACHA club ranks to NCAA Division I. It was only a short time later that the first rumor of his interest in the Buffalo Sabres was broken by the Buffalo media.
In the eight or nine months that have followed the winds of change have blown through the Buffalo Sabres organization. Suddenly the organization is spending as much money as they need to in order to get the players they need to succeed and spending cash on any type of arena upgrade you can think of.
I can only think of what Mr. Pegula would look like in a gray jumpsuit, with a big Sabres ring on his pinky as he raises it to his mouth and says, “We have Zambonis with frickin’ laser beams attached to them!”
Almost every time he appears for a Sabres function, Pegula is doing something that makes me think, “what is he going to do to top this one?” Yesterday he hand-delivered tickets to fans and took the time to enjoy a cold beer at the home of his final delivery. Of course, he was wearing his trademark Sabres sneakers. I expect nothing less and I become a bigger fan of him for it. I saw that picture and thought, ‘Terry Pegula is the coolest owner in all of sports’.
No Buffalo Sabres fan could have described an owner this cool. You may have gotten pieces of the puzzle (deep pockets or a desire to win), but I couldn’t fathom someone this spectacular. He teared up upon the sight of his hero, Gilbert Perreault. He reconciled with Dominik Hasek and brought him back for a pregame ceremony, that made me tear up. He stepped in and has completely gutted the locker facilities – which were pretty awesome to begin with – and have turned them into the most state-of-the-art facilities in the NHL. They have added equipment to improve the ice, they got some new paint up and have made countless other upgrades too. I’ll recap all of these improvements in the coming days. Also, as I stated before, they will have Zambonis with laser beams on them. Just say it to yourself, “Zambonis with laser beams”. The dedication to building the best franchise in the NHL is beyond evident. That passion is going to reflect on the fan base, expect First Niagara Center to be rocking all season.
I have only been around for 25 years, I have been able to comprehend the Buffalo sports scene for about 17 and I have really be involved with all of our teams in the past 10. I have been around long enough to see some great highs and extreme lows. I have been conditioned to think that my team has some strong pieces but will ultimately falter somewhere along the way. That is no longer the case as I find myself waiting for the next great step along the path that Pegula and his management team are blazing to the Stanley Cup.
Between his wife’s presence at nearly every event and his daughters tweets, it is obvious that the entire Pegula family are part of this venture. An enormous amount of credit should go to the Sabres staff and Ted Black. Black has made himself beyond accessible between media opportunities and live chats on Twitter and Sabres.com. His live chats are always laced with humor but they are also extremely informative. He often breaks news on things (Slug Appreciation Day) and offers a great insight to how things are being done down at the F’N Center.
The Pegula Era is more than a breath of fresh air, it has become a revolution of awesomeness that has me more excited for a professional sports season than any year prior.