Over the past week, the biggest story in Sabre-land has had nothing to do with hockey, but with the fact that Sabres (and Bandits) owner Terry Pegula is one of two serious bidders to purchase the Buffalo Bills.
With reports coming in yesterday that Pegula's offer to buy the Buffalo Bills was the highest on the table (numbers which should be taken with a grain of salt) it would appear that Pegula he is now the front-runner to purchase Western New York's biggest sports asset at the (supposed) price of $1.3 billion.
We're not going to argue whether this is a good thing for the Bills or Buffalo, because I don't know a single person (aside from this blowhard in Orlando) with any ties to the area who isn't completely in love with this idea. Pegula's ownership will provide the Bills and Western New York with long-term regional stability, and whether you think he's done a good job or not as Sabres owner, he's far, far better than the alternative would be for Bills fans.
But this isn't about the Bills (make sure you check out Buffalo Rumblings to follow this story from a Bills perspective) so instead we'll focus on how this new asset of Pegula's might affect the Buffalo Sabres in a positive or negative way. Speculation awaits us!
Possible Negative Impact
The most common complaint I've seen so far is that owning the Bills will somehow take away from Pegula's time, effort, or input he has with the Sabres. This is an unfounded fear for one major reason - there's a big difference between owning a team and running a team.
Terry Pegula is the owner of the Buffalo Sabres, but as they've stated many times, he hired Ted Black and Tim Murray and their respective staffs to oversee the day-to-day operations of the organization. Yes, Pegula certainly has input on major financial and organizational decisions, but those don't exactly come around every day. Trade deadline, the draft, free agency, and a few days her and there are all I can see his presence being absolutely necessary.
Think of it this way, if Pegula bought another energy company, you wouldn't freak out about him having less time for the Sabres, right? The Bills already have a staff in place in GM Doug Whaley and president Russ Brandon to handle their day-to-day, and while decisions would need to be made about who to keep and who to let go, the only major thing the Bills will do to Pegula's Sabres ownership is take up his Sunday afternoons.
This move would also not mean any major relocation concerns are imminent for the Sabres - owning another, more profitable sports team is absolutely no reason for Pegula to consider selling or moving the franchise when Buffalo is already one of the best markets in America (outside of ticket prices) for NHL hockey.
Possible Positive Impact
As far as I can tell, all of the other ramifications that come along with Pegula's purchase of the Bills are positive for the Sabres. Financially, the Pegula family will be better off after the purchase (assuming the enormous price doesn't scare them) as even the smallest of NFL teams like the Bills annually make tens, if not hundreds, of millions of dollars in profit. Could Pegula funnel some of that sweet NFL money into the Sabres in some way? It's certainly possible, though I won't presume to tell a billionaire how he should spend his money. All you need to know is that it won't force him to "cut back" on the Sabres in any way.
Owning the Bills will also increase the Pegula family's connection to Western New York and the greater Buffalo area in a very big way. We've already seen example's of Pegula's generosity and commitment to improving Buffalo with his work in Canalside, improvements made to the First Niagara Center, and in funding the HARBORCenter project, and by owning all the professional sports teams in the area, that commitment to the area will stay strong.
Overall, I can't see this as anything but a positive for Bills fans and Buffalonians. At its best it could mean additional funding, support, or the continuation of low ticket prices for the Sabres, but at the worst it will have little or no impact on how Pegula or his staff runs their hockey team. If you've got a different opinion, or think we missed something here, let us know in the comments.