An Open Letter To Terry Pegula
Dear Mr. Pegula,
"If I want to make some money, I'll go drill a gas well."
That was the favorite quote of most Buffalo Sabres fans from your first press conference right after you purchased the team. After living through a bankrupt franchise and the penny-pinching ways of Tom Golisano, that simple statement left a powerful impact on the fan base of the blue and gold.
It meant the end of being merely good enough. It meant the end of turning a profit. It meant the the end of players leaving because we couldn't afford them. It meant the end of Buffalo as a small market franchise.
Since then, to paraphrase Charles Dickens, you've been better than your word. You've done it all, and infinitely more. The new locker room. Alumni Plaza. Free agent spending, and re-signing our own. You've given Sabres fans a taste of the good life that the fans of Pittsburgh or Detroit have enjoyed for the past seven years or so, and we've loved every minute of it. Maybe not the minutes that went to Ville Leino, but still.
However, since the lockout began, Sabres fans haven't heard a peep from the man who once stirred our hearts at his first press conference? We haven't heard a peep from you, aside from a speech at the opening of Alumni Plaza. In fact, if you do a Google search for "Terry Pegula lockout", the only links you get are links saying that you're not going to say anything.
As a member of a professional union myself, I understand that you need to remain in solidarity with your fellow owners. As a fellow "new guy" at my job, I understand that you may not have as much of a say in the negotiating room as you would like. I also understand that you know more about running a business than I will in ten lifetimes. But for a man who has been so cavalier about doing whatever it takes to change the culture of a down-on-its-luck franchise, seeing you standing tall with the other owners who would be willing to throw away an entire year of possibility and promise for the sake of, what is to you, pocket change, is perplexing at best, and depressing at worst.
There was another famous quote from that first press conference, Mr. Pegula, one that will be tied to your ownership until it comes to pass:
Starting today, the Buffalo Sabres reason for existence, will be to win a Stanley Cup.
As much as I'm sure you want that statement to ring true, it's tough to believe with you directly standing in the way of that happening. You've tried to turn Buffalo into Hockey Heaven, yet with the lockout, continue to put the fans through Hockey Hell. As the owner of the franchise that we all love and support, you represent the fans as much as the owners or the league, and we, the people that fund the business that you bought, are asking you to step up, speak up, and do whatever you can to give the Buffalo Sabres a chance to do what you, and all of us, so desperately want them to. To achieve the sole reason for their existence.
To win the Stanley Cup.
And Sabres Fans Everywhere