On a day where almost every other team played (minus one game cancelled due to the ‘storm’), several Sabres related stories dominated our discussions yesterday. First, Terry Pegula really is buying the Sabres. And yes, even Larry Quinn is no longer denying it. Tom Luongo and Katebits of The Willful Caboose both say thanks to Mr. Golisano, and I’d like to pass mine along as well. When I first moved up here, as a hockey fan but not specifically a fan of a team hardcore (I followed the Blackhawks mostly because they were good in my old EA NHL games on SNES), I attended a few games pre-lockout in a half-empty arena thanks to handouts given to my Adelphia employee buddy. I enjoyed going, but it was tough to buy in when words like contraction, bankruptcy, and Mark Hammister were being thrown around. I had no illusions that a Rochester businessman with political aspirations buying the team meant he would become the next Mark Cuban, but the team stayed, got some steals in trade and FA that helped the team compete, and lowered ticket prices and increased attendance. All of which improved the in-arena experience and franchise viability, but more importantly made going to the games FUN. While it’s been a bumpy ride more recently, we should definitely remember how far down they were back in 2003 and how far Tom has brought them. Thanks, Mr. Golisano.
Amidst the fist-pumping over the ‘official’ sale of the team (press conference tomorrow at noon BTW), was the more puzzling news that Darcy Regier was extended through the 2012-2013 season…and Lindy Ruff turned his extension down but wants to remain with the team. Curious timing, as this would’ve gone down the first time (?) Pegula tried to buy the team in the fall. I’m not sure what to make of Regier, though I’ve always felt he wants to be more of a wheeler-dealer but was being held back by those above him. Perhaps we’ll see that at the deadline this year, and if Pegula is pleased, he can stay. Ruff, I think, knows he has options after this year if he doesn’t like where the Sabres go after the sale but I agree with the sentiment that he’s more likely to stick around.
We also learned that Thomas Vanek has been battling a bruised finger (as well as missing practice with the flu). Considering he had 5 goals and 11 assists in his last 12 games, along with plenty of rest time leading up to Friday’s game, I’m not concerned.