When Terry Pegula assumed ownership of the Buffalo Sabres, you could see a number of things were of great importance to him. Winning a Stanley Cup, make that Cups, for the fans was at the top of the list. But everything that has been discussed, whether its winning Cups, re-doing the Sabres' lockerroom or improving fan amenities, it all falls under the same category. Having pride in the Sabres' organization and turning this into one of the NHL’s model franchises.
Tonight’s pre-game festivities are another example as the Sabres welcome back so many of their alumni. Remembering, re-visiting and relishing your hockey history, whether there are Cup banners hanging in your Arena or not, is something every franchise should embrace. There are always special players and special seasons that fans will cherish forever. I think it also sends a message to the current players that the organization will value the men who wear the Sabres crest while playing in the NHL.
I caught Rob Ray’s segment with Schopp and The Bulldog on Tuesday and they spent part of the time going over the list of players who will be on hand for tonight’s ceremonies. It was great to hear updates on where the guys are these days and what they are doing. It also made me flash back to their playing days and the moments I remember about their respective careers.
When Mike Robitaille was in studio with us on Wednesday, you could tell how much this night was going to mean for him. He enjoyed talking about former teammates he’ll be seeing but the fan in him came out as he reminisced about players he covered as a broadcaster.
If you were here for the French Connection, how could you not get choked up when Pegula had to fight his emotions when talking about the great line and his hero, Gilbert Perreault. All fans have had a sports hero or heroes and hopefully yours is here tonight. I’ve only been around the Sabres since 1989 but it’ll be great to see guys like Pat Lafontaine, Jay Mckee and Rhett Warrener, just to name a few, don the Sabres jersey and come out on the ice. We live in the present, we think and dream about a future that will hopefully include a Stanley Cup parade downtown but we should never forget the past and the players who created some of our fondest memories as fans.