Terry Pegula:

Have the Sabres put the Bills “On Notice?”

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Are you ready for some hockey ?”

Many sports fans in WNY are marking the days off their calendar in anticipation for October 7th, when the rebuilt, refreshed, and Pegula-powered Buffalo Sabres take to the ice. As we’ve discussed before, Pegs did a whole lot for his team and its fans long before the most recent upgrades of the roster.

For Bills fans, lately, it has felt like the reason for existence of the Buffalo Bills has been to just keep them in town. It’s not like Ralph Wilson is suddenly going to change the way he does things – at 200 years of age, he’s pretty much set in his ways. Yea, he put a team in Buffalo (because his first choice, Miami, didn’t pan out). And yea, he’s kept the team here. But that’s about it for Bills fans. They’ve got a team – a middling team, a team that has gone from the glorious stat-sheet days of the Superbowl 90’s to the ever-lengthening joke-sheets of NFL analysts.

Bills fans, praise their thick Buffalo hides, will never give up on their team. Heck, this is Buffalo. This is what we do. Still, there has been a slight change in attitude that has been picking up around the football fan base as they’ve seen what some other rich guy with deep pockets can do for a small market sports franchise.

Pegula has set that standard pretty darn high, and the way the Bills are run, it simply can’t be ignored. We’re not elitists, but we have pride in this town. We want to win.

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"...and remember, don't take any wooden nickels!"

We deserve to win.

Of course, this is pro-sports – deserve ain’t got nothin’ to do with it. One thing that does have a lot to do with it is putting your self on notice for the team that you own. That is what Pegula did. We’re on a three year Cup mission right now, and it is on his name that the end result of that quest falls.

As the Sabres surge forward by Pegula’s lead, Wilson has also been inadvertently been put on notice. Again, he won’t shake things up at One Bills Drive. But maybe, just maybe, he’ll learn a thing or two from Pegula and turn Buffalo into a football destination again.

Right now, we’re in Hockey Heaven, and Football Hell.

Go Bills.

Go Sabres.

*For a incredibly wild ride through the historical antics and let-downs of Ralph Wilson, check out the article “Ralph Wilson is an Odious Taint,” over at “Dear God Why Us Sports. It’s a fine, fine piece by “The Yachtsman.” You’ll either laugh until you burst, or get incredibly offended, or if you’re really lucky – both. (NSFW, kiddies.)

 

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So What, Exactly, is Hockey Heaven?

We’re not elitists.

There is no sense of entitlement in this town. But since Terry Pegula arrived on February 22nd, 2011 (forever hereafter to be known as “Pegula Day” to Sabres Nation), there is a sense of confidence.

There is a belief.

For perhaps the first time in the storied history of the Buffalo Sabres franchise, the fan base is compelled to a certitude that the Stanley Cup will be won. It may take years, but it will be won.

HockeyHeavenTee So What, Exactly, is Hockey Heaven?

And inherit Lord Stanley.

(Photo from “Hockey Heaven’s” online “716” store.)

It’s not just about that Cup though, folks. “Hockey Heaven” is not a destination, it’s a way of life. It’s the kids that block traffic playing street hockey in front of your house. It’s the Labatt Pond Hockey tournament. It’s the midnight broomball games at Leisure Rinks. It’s the pride we feel when we lead the national ratings for a playoff game rounds after our own team has been eliminated. It’s the backyard rinks in winter. It’s teaching our kids to skate at the good ol’ Nike Base, like our parents taught us. It’s the open practices at the HSBC Arena.

Sometimes, it is as simple as the smell of the hockey rink when you first walk through the door to watch a varsity match between St. Francis and Orchard Park.

We breathe it deeply here.

Hockey Heaven has always been here, but what Terry Pegula has done cannot be overlooked. Heck, how do you overlook over 75 Sabres alumni signing autographs at Fan Appreciation Night? The anticipation felt by fans about Pegula on February 22nd has been replaced with a feeling of marvel, as Terry adds perk upon perk to the fan and player experience.  A challenge: try to name all the changes and improvements that Pegula and Ted Black have put into place since their arrival. Just try it.

It’s amazing what they’ve done in basically just three calendar months. Here’s a quick list (which I am sure is incomplete, feel free to add more in the comments section below):

  • He decided not to dismantle the team he bought, instead, he bought into his team. Trading only to bring Brad Boyes in, his men responded by going 16-4-4 to improbably make the playoffs.
  • He made the Sabres family whole again, when he invited all Sabres alumni back into the fold. Every one of those guys who spent time here have since gone back to their homes, and around the world, the message that they brought back was “Buffalo is the new destination.”
  • He brought free programs.
  • He fixed the plumbing at HSBC.
  • He made the decision to remove a ill-attended museum, to utilize the space in the arena as it should be – for hockey.
  • He allowed fans to choose game day tunes.
  • He reunited the French Connection for one final time.
  • He put Ted Black on a fan internet chat for a NHL record 3 hours and 18 minutes.
  • He followed his new team on the road, sitting in the cheap seats, so he could keep the magic run alive.
  • He invested, and is investing, every penny towards a Cup, and nothing else.
  • He challenged the Buffalo News for being unfairly and detrimentally negative.
  • He brought a second screen in for the Party in the Plaza.
  • He purchased a $20,000 carpet for the locker room.
  • He provided fans with an amazing service for their beloved #7.
  • He planted a flag at HSBC that read “Hockey Heaven.”
  • He met fans in the lobby before games.
  • He instilled a sense of hope in a franchise and a city that had been drowning under the heavy ice of Lake Erie for a decade.

And he did all of these things in 24 games.

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For those who witnessed it, none will ever forget Corey Martin eulogizing his father.

By the way, thanks Corey.

Since then, Pegula’s done more, and more – the latest gem being him and Lindy Ruff leaving the draft to fly to Calgary and visit Robyn Regehr at his home to meet and welcome him and his family to Buffalo.

For all of our problems here in the Queen City, we have a lot to cherish.

Pegula didn’t create “Hockey Heaven.” It was here all along. But, boy, he sure has made us feel it a heckuva lot more.

Thanks again, Terry.

Go Sabres.

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Happy Father’s Day, Terry Pegula

What a great year this turned out to be.

PegulaClan 300x199 Happy Fathers Day, Terry Pegulabuffalosabresnation.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/06/PegulaClan.jpg 620w" sizes="(max-width: 300px) 100vw, 300px" />

Daddy T-Pegs

Thanks for everything, Terry.  A Stanley Cup wasn’t a possibility in  my grandfather’s lifetime, but now, it is a possibility in my father’s lifetime.  For that, I thank you.

Enjoy a day off!  Tomorrow, we turn back to our business that is getting that Cup.

Go Sabres.

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BSN Summer Awards: The Sully

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FoilUp 144x300 BSN Summer Awards: The Sully

Someday they'll award our efforts in making these ridiculous things.

Until said captioned efforts do go rewarded, we’ll make our own summer trophies.  Get your voter registration cards ready, sports fans.

Today launches the inaugural Summer Awards Ball here at Buffalo Sabres Nation – and you’re all invited.  So, get into your “Tux and Pucks'” best and prepare to think hard: it’ll be up to all of you to decide who gets these things.

Winners will receive a beautifully preserved sample of Sabres’ Blue and Red cotton candy (now retired)!  That’s right – the old colors, before Terry Pegula and Ted Black opened up the “Sabres Suggestion Box” and made so many millions of improvements to the overall Sabres experience that they actually changed the color of the cotton candy from blue and red to blue and yellow.

Gotta’ love those guys.

BlueRedCottonCandy BSN Summer Awards: The Sully

It may have congealed, a little.

Without further ado, our first award up for your egregious contemplation and debate is “The Sully.” This award goes to the member/player in the Sabres organization most enthusiastically loathed by a certain member of the Buffalo News (who just may just bear a name somewhat similar to the actual namesake of this award – the other destroyer in Buffalo – which is docked at the waterfront).  I know, right? It’s just a total coincidence.

Here are your nominees for this year’s Sully (in no particular order):

  1. Tim Connolly. Connolly may have never have lived up to his contract extension, but there are no worries as to if he ever knew about it.
  2. Terry Pegula. It didn’t take long for Pegula to get raked over the coals in this one newspaper town – during an on air rant at WGR55, our certain news writer spoke so vehemently about the new ownership’s decisions that Schopp and the Bulldog were actually rendered speechless for ten seconds.  (Click on the 2/28 “Part 1” feed – the 12:13 mark starts off the tirade that leads to the dead silence at 13:02.)
  3. Ryan Miller. Nothing like cornering an angry netminder in the locker room after a tough night – after he walks away from you.  Nope, there is no escape from the wrath of the “Sabres’ Critic,” not even for the team’s all-world goaltender.  Heck, there’s always time for name-calling and f-bomb dropping, even if it takes place in front of a bunch of little kids touring the facilities – it’s about staying objective, folks!

Those are your Sullied Heroes, up for your vote.  Think, debate, comment, and click!

Who gets your vote for "The Sully?"

View Results

loading BSN Summer Awards: The Sully Loading ...

Thanks for participating!

Go Sabres.

 

 

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Sabres to Reunite with Amerks

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I’m already putting money aside for a red white and blue Foligno jersey.

Amerks logo1 Sabres to Reunite with Amerks

First the Sabres and the Bandits - now the Amerks. What's next Terry - the Bills? The Statler?

Not that I want to get ahead of myself – the word that Terry Pegula was in the final stages of a negotiation process to purchase the Rochester Americans is still a rumor, but –

jodygage1 Sabres to Reunite with Amerks

Jody Gage, also known as "Mr. Amerk," may be getting a very large fruit basket from Buffalo soon.

Cancel that line of thought.

From Kevin Oklobzija, from the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle:

“NEW at 4:14 p.m.: The Associated Press is reporting that the Sabres have signed a nonbinding letter of intent to purchase the Amerks. The AP cites an unnamed source as saying there is no out clause with the Portland Pirates, so negotiations between the American Hockey League, the Pirates and the Sabres would need to continue (yes, I believe they’ve already begun that process).”

The reason this matters (besides the decades of legacy shared between the Sabres and Americans) is that it will serve to empower Pegula – even more – as he seeks to further expand the Sabres’ fan base.

For fans, this means a quick hour and a half drive could get you to a game featuring some of these newest Sabres prospects that we are all drooling over. Heck, maybe Terry will even host a huge Amerks Alumni Day (welcome back Jody Gage)!

And hey, it looks like if Mancari re-ups, he’ll finally get out of Portland.  Welcome back to Rochester, Mark!

Who’s up for a road trip?

Go Sabres.

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