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Are Things Really Different?



blog-0041553001326382719.jpgOn Feburary 18th of 2011 Terry Pegula took over as Sabres owner and gave a energize first speech even shedding tears at the sight of his hero Gilbert Perrault. All of Buffalo was full of joy calling for Feburary 18th to be known as Pegula Day for the rest of time. He promised Stanley Cups, he promised a changed atmospher, and he promised money no longer is an issue with this team. Pegula and Sabres President Ted Black spoke of a 3 year plan, in which they would be a "Championship Team, Attitude, and Atmosphere". The new owner helped give the Sabres some energy and the team made a crazy second half run to get into the playoffs. He got a 99% season ticket renewal rate, put money into the arena, bought Sabres University (Rochester Amerks), and even personally handed out season tickets to fans.

All of that I'm thankful for, however he forgot to fix one thing, THE TEAM! The most important part of the whole thing Pegula overlooked. Sure he went out and made big offseason additions in Ehrhoff, Regher, and Leino. All that got the Sabres into though were contracts that will cripple this team for years and cap jail. Leino's 6 year deal and Ehrhoff's 10 year deal at this point look like outright failures. Management made the splash to keep Sabres faithful hooked, but in turn probably set the franchise back a few years. I don't want to be the old Rangers or Leafs, who try to buy a Stanley Cup. That gets you nowhere. The Rangers and Leafs are finally starting to dig out of those mistakes after nearly a decade of poor product on the ice. What managment needed to do was make the smart moves, not the flashy, or sign the players everyone else wanted. Leino is a perfect example, he was a 2nd line winger in Philly with linemates of Daniel Briere and Scott Hartnell. The Sabres signed him to be a 1st or 2nd line CENTER. Trying to ram square pegs into round holes is not what the Sabres needed. The Sabres really wanted Brad Richards and it didn't work so why not wait it out and have the money to go after a Getzlaf or Parise at the deadline or next July 1. The Leino signing has also cost them the development of young center Luke Adam. He started off red hot with Vanek and Pominville, but now in the Lindy Ruff system is a 3rd or 4th line center/winger. Sure Leino is great in the playoffs, but the problem is you are not making the playoffs.

Every Thursday morning for the past 2 months I have heard Ted Black just shove garbage down the throats of Sabres fans on WGR Sports Radio 550. He says the same things, patient this and injury that. Yada Yada Yada. He then made the argument today that the Sabres are in a better spot than they were a year ago. Sure the arena is nicer, but the team is no better off. They have a worse record and the same inconsistent players. A worse goalie and a coach and GM who have long over stayed their time. To me Ted Black was telling fans to be happy with what you have, well I would trade a good arena for a top 8 consistent hockey team. He can have back his fancy locker room and TV board outside, just give me a good team.

The management of the Sabres still smells of the Golisano era. They are over patient and full of excuses. Injuries have hurt this team sure, but the best players on the ice most nights are Nathan Gerbe, Brayden McNabb, Tyler Myers, and Luke Adam. All under the age of 24, it's Roy, Stafford, Gaustad, and Miller who have let this team down. The management of this team still sits behind the poor core that has led this franchise and city to nothing. Missed playoffs and first round knockouts. Whining about late hits instead of taking care of it on the ice. Going into a ball when a team brings physical play to there doorstep. The most disappointing fact of it all is this core doesn't look to be changing any time soon. Stafford is in a new 4 year deal, Roy won't be traded, nobody will take Miller's contract, and one if not both of Gaustad or Hecht will be resigned in the offseason.

The Sabres are headed down a dark path in my opinion and if you go to a Sabres home game you can feel it in the air. The fans are not into the game at all, there's no sound, no enthusiasm, no optimisim. Every game consits of the other team dominating in the Sabres zone and the Sabres get it out and change. Out and change. Out and change. If they manage to get it past the red line, it's dump it in, lose a race/battle, and here comes the other team again. No part of a Sabres hockey game is entertaining anymore.

Terry Pegula has a real problem on his hands. He also might start to see some of the Sabres fans turn on his managment if no signs of change come in the near future.


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