The Times, They Are A-Changin’
From the words being spoken to the articles being written to the comments about company parties to the changes to the website, one thing is obvious about Terry Pegula’s administration – the times, they are a-changin’.
It began during Pegula’s introductory press conference when he thanked Tom Golisano for “saving his hockey team.” The mood grew as he went on, talking about removing restrictions and the singular direction the team would move in. There were his tears at reminiscing about Gilbert Perreault’s play in the 70′s that made him Pegula’s idol. There was newcomer Ted Black’s “clarion call” to the NHL that as of right now the Sabres are to be considered a premier destination for top talent. It continued a few days later when Pegula threw a meet and greet-style dinner for the organization at Pearl St. Grill. There were reports of a considerable, noticeable shift in the air as the new management team and their families got to know the players and their own families.
The acquisition of Brad Boyes from St. Louis felt different, too. The Sabres took on salary in order to improve offensively. From the media to the players (Thomas Vanek, specifically), it was agreed upon that that kind of move just wouldn’t have happened under Tom Golisano’s reign.
The articles being written about the new Buffalo Sabres (by the notoriously-negative David Shoalts and Bucky Gleason, just to name a couple) and the look of the Sabres website (with a new sidebar that quotes the owner, “Winning is not a goal, it is a belief”, and a suggestion box for fans to offer their input) make it feel like it’s an entirely different organization resides at One Seymour H. Know III Plaza.
Today on Puck Daddy Radio, Greg Wyshynski and Rob Pizzo were discussing the shift in team mentality and referred to Terry Pegula’s press conference as “the best locker room speech ever”. No hate intended toward Tom Golisano, but it’s very refreshing to have an owner in this town who cherishes his employees instead of seeing them as expenses. The fans feel loved too, and reciprocated that love with various signs and chants adulating Pegula before the Sabres first game under his ownership. Fans got another glimpse of the new owner last night, as he watched the game presumably close to the ice from behind glass at Madison Square Garden. Before that, when was the last time the Sabres were watched by their owner at an away game that wasn’t in Florida?
Fans ought to get used to feeling like the team flat-out loves us back, but they can’t forget that when something doesn’t go the fans’ way at the draft or in free agency. Feel the love, Sabres fans. Just don’t take it for granted.