What a week it has been Sabres' fans, as Terry Pegula officially took over as the 4th owner in the history of the franchise and hope sprang eternal. Having not been here earlier in the week for the big press conference, permit me to reflect back on what stood out to me during this edition of Inside the Numbers.
As was the case with all of you, a big smile came across my face when I heard Pegula say that starting today, the Sabres reason for existence is to win the Stanley Cup and that there would be no financial mandates on the Hockey department. There was no dancing around the mission statement like saying how they want to be competitive every season or make sure this small market team remains financially viable or anything like that. It was straight and to the point and that is all any Sabres fan is thinking about, winning the Stanley Cup.
I must admit, when he got choked up and started to cry when talking about the alumni and his hero, Gilbert Perreault, I wasn’t sure what to think. But then I figured if I was ever in a position to buy the New York Mets, my all time favorite team, and at my introductory press conference Tom Seaver was on hand,(my all time favorite player/hero) I would probably be emotional too.
I loved his stories about what lengths he went to, to listen to games because we’ve all done that with our favorite teams. While living in Houston, Pegula mentioned that he listened to a playoff game with Pittsburgh thanks to a friend of his in Olean holding his phone up to the TV set. While living in Pittsburgh in the 1980’s, he would sit on an overpass playing with his radio as the WGR signal faded in and out. For his honeymoon, the guy took his bride to a Sabres playoff game in Montreal! You win Mr. Pegula, even I wouldn’t have done that.
It wasn’t just about Terry Pegula though. During an appearance on the WGR morning show with Jeremy White, the new team President, Ted Black mentioned he had scalped a ticket to the game against Toronto and sat up in section 316. That really impressed me. If you want to figure out how to improve the gameday experience for your fans, go experience it for yourself. Don’t send out a written survey or do something at the team website, go and see for yourself.
Whenever the Stanley Cup Playoffs come to an end and the Cup is being handed to the winning team, I always stop and think what it would be like if that day comes for the Buffalo Sabres. I never have that thought except for when the Cup is out on the ice after that final game. But when Terry Pegula was introduced before Wednesday’s game with Atlanta, that very thought came to me. That vision in my head of the Sabres skating the Cup around the ice, what if this is the guy who can finally make turn that vision into reality?