We all remember Terry Pegula’s emotional speech after he took over the Buffalo Sabres on February 22, 2011. We all know that he started his speech with “Who am I? I am a Sabre fan and have been since 1975.” He continued to go on with this speech by thanking Tom Golisano for “Saving my hockey team.” Then, he went on to turn to the great Gil Perreault and told him “You are my hero.”
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Remember how we were all excited about a fan owning the team? How’s that working for us?
It’s tough being a fan of a team. You get attached to certain players and coaches. Look at Lindy Ruff. He has been a part of the Sabres family for 25 years, 10 as a player (1979-1989) and 15 as a coach, (1997-2013, not counting 04-05 lockout). Over half of the Sabres existence, Lindy Ruff has been a part of it. There’s no reason why his name shouldn’t always be linked to the Buffalo Sabres. He’s had a great run in Buffalo.
But it’s coming to a close.
As an owner, you can’t always let the fan part of you take over and make hockey decisions. I’m sure that Pegula is a fan of Ruff. Unfortunately, you may have to part ways with him Terry. You’re the owner of the Buffalo Sabres. This is a business. Tough decisions need to be made. Players need to be cut, and sometimes, someone who has an extensive history with a team needs to be let go.
We all remember this quote Terry Pegula said when took over the team;
“Starting today, the Buffalo Sabres reason for existence will be to win a Stanley Cup. And we want to win the Cup for our fans.”
For the fans, I urge Terry Pegula to take these words to heart (I’m sure he’s reading). Don’t forget the fans. You’re an owner first, fan second. I’m not saying fire Ruff right now. I’m not saying fire Regier right now. As this season goes on, take a good hard look at your hockey team. Right now, Buffalo does not look like they are moving towards the goal of winning the Stanley Cup. They’re struggling, and the excuses are running out for this poor play in Buffalo. The Sabres are a product, that right now doesn’t seem to be put together very well.
After Pegula took over the team, during his press conference, he stated that “It’s a three-year or less process.” He stated that when asked about how long he saw it taking for Buffalo to get their name engraved on the Stanley Cup.
Right now, the clock is ticking on that time frame. It’s going to be 2 years since he took over the team 2 weeks from this coming Friday. I’d almost risk saying that we’re further away from the Cup than when he initially took over the team. Don’t believe me? Watch some replays of the last 7 Sabres games.
Start your evaluation process now. If at any point during the season, or once this season is over, it’s determined that Lindy Ruff needs to go, you have to do it. We know it will be difficult and you may not want to do it, but that’s life. It’s full of things that are painful to do but we do them anyway. If Darcy Regier doesn’t want to fire Ruff (which we all know he doesn’t want to do) tear up his contract extension and send him packing too. After 15 years of no Stanley Cups in Buffalo, we know that Terry Pegula has to have this in the back of his mind.
I know that this is difficult, and I know that these are things you may not want to hear. However, as an owner, you have to take care of the business end first.
It’d be fitting ending this with 1 more quote. This one is from the ending of The Natural;
“They come and they go Hobbs. They come and they go.”
That sums up how I feel about players, coaches, and everyone involved with a sports franchise. As a fan, I root for the team. While I like certain players, I know that on any given day, they may no longer be a part of my team. I accept that, and while I may be angry about what or how it happens, I continue to root for my team. In the end, the team endures, regardless of who is on the roster/bench.
Regardless of what decision is made, the Buffalo Sabres organization will endure. However, Terry Pegula’s priority and loyalty cannot be to Lindy Ruff and Darcy Regier.
It has to be to the Buffalo Sabres, and what is best for this franchise and it’s future, not specific players or in this case, coaches.
Edit on 2/5/13
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