Your're reminded of it every time you go to a Sabres home game. They play it loud and clear over the P.A. system.
"From this day foward, the Buffalo Sabres reason for existence is to win the Stanley Cup".
Minutes later the puck drops and the action begins. Not long after that it becomes obvious that you've been duped into thinking this home game would be any different from the last several you or your friends have attented. The Sabres quickly let in 2 goals and the place goes silent. As the game wears on the crowd gets a little louder but you notice its mostly chatter of 18,690 bored people talking about work, or how much christmas shopping they got done. The game experience itself seems to detached from the words echoed at the start, "to win the Stanley cup".
I'm going to be the first to say it: To date, Terry Pegula has done more damage than good.
Before you get out the pitchforks and hunt me down, let me say this. He has done wonders for the fan experience and and for fan relations. Everything from de-slugging the arena, to bringing back alumni, removing 'Rock you like a Hurricane' 48 times per broadcast, the tailgate tent and cup holders in the bathrooms. Its been great for fans in every catagory except the most import one, winning.
TP and company have turned the Sabres from scrappy under dog, 'go fight for what your can' kind of team to an unmotivated, over pampered, heartless bunch of prima donnas. The undue pressure TP has asserted now that after 41 years the Sabres now exist to "win the Stanley cup"(what was thier purpose before that? selling beer and t-shirts only?) , has torn the teams play apart.
The Veteran players who have been here play like they dont know how to handle the new pressure. Watching them skate and play its as if players like Paul Guastad or Drew Stafford suddenly feel that they have to be something completely different than they have been the last 5 years. The free agent aquisitions play like "Wait, I'm supposed to the reason the these guys are suddenly a cup contender?????" The rookie call ups seem to play the best because they seem less focused on the the outside pressures of this struggling team and more focused on what hockey is about, playing good shifts period after period so they can get more ice time and grow their hockey career. The goaltenders? The ultimate victims or the whole sheme.
TP has turned the Sabres into what I never wanted the Sabres to be. The Toronto Maple leafs. A team who's most exciting times for fans and biggest moments come off the ice and during the offseason. They start the season winning a few games , the home fans crown them champions and start planning the parade only to have the whole thing come crashing down by december 1st.
My endeavor asks, is this organization too focused on proving it can win with the remaining team "core", gm and coaching staff from what should have been a stanley cup winning team 5 years ago, while sprinkling a few hastily grabbed free agents in the mix and giving fans a few more venues to drink beer in? I think so.
Go ahead, hate me.