The Sabres Observer
by @DaveDavisHockey on 01/23/12 at 01:40 PM ET
Not even a year removed from Terry Pegula’s purchase of the Buffalo Sabres and the most ballyhooed press conference here since Jim Kelly rode a limo into town 25 years earlier, the honeymoon is just about over.
But if you want to play the blame game so badly that you’re looking to the man at the top as the biggest reason for this season’s failures, then you’re just trying too hard.
Although Pegula has gotten his due criticism for the ill-advised gamble on Ville Leino, some misguided folks are trying to convince you that he should be vilified for much more than that.
While Puck Daddy produces great content and has done so much for the advancement of new media over the past few years, a recent article from Ryan Lambert was way off base and out of touch. He questioned why Pegula has escaped blame for Buffalo’s woeful season and even implied that the owner has shut himself out from the media.
For starters, not being chatty after a brutal 5-0 loss in Detroit doesn’t equate to Pegula no longer being accessible. That’s a ridiculous implication considering that, within the previous three days, he had plenty to say in the local newspaper and on radio and television. Sorry if he hasn’t provided you with enough footage for a new 24/7 series, but he’s not exactly hiding in an ivory tower somewhere.
Personally, I’m not overly concerned with how hypersensitive or media unsavvy the owner of my hockey team is. I care a lot more about how much money he spends, and how wisely he spends it, within the boundaries of the salary cap.
I snicker when I hear the old line that spending more than your peers doesn’t guarantee you a championship. No kidding. Well, I can tell you based on over 40 years of Sabres history that being a tightwad owner does guarantee you zero championships. Given the choice, I’ll go with the big spender. At least I’ll have a chance, and if nothing else I’m supporting a team that’ll usually be relevant.
The Buffalo defense couldn’t handle the swarm that came from the forwards of the Philadelphia Flyers in last year’s playoffs, so the Sabres went out and got the two best guys available in Robyn Regehr and Christian Ehrhoff. They took on a reasonable $8M annual cap hit total for both of them. And anyone fretting over the length of Ehrhoff’s contract hasn’t done his homework on the structure of that deal, cap circumvention or not.
Just what more exactly did you want from Pegula that he didn’t give you? Is this awful season his fault because he didn’t get Brad Richards? Are we supposed to believe the Sabres would be a first place club without Leino’s lousy contract?
Many who are lambasting Pegula are the same people who were all over Tom Golisano for cringing at the mere thought of multiyear deals. The reality that we’re in a new era hasn’t changed, and it is true that Buffalo has been promised a Stanley Cup - but not this season, contrary to the clumsy reference in Lambert’s piece.
I didn’t see too many folks calling for Pegula to oust Lindy Ruff after his club pushed Philadelphia to seven games last spring. Go back and read some of the accolades Darcy Regier received in the press last summer for shoring up his young defense. Everything was wonderful in Pegulaville until the Lucic game and the onset of the unrelenting string of injuries in mid-November.
Do you really think firing the coach and GM a month ago would’ve transformed this ailing group into a Cup contender?
Most importantly at this point, I’m not ready to concede to the rhetoric that Pegula isn’t mentally equipped to make the changes that are obviously necessary to fix the team. The jury is still out. I think it’s blatantly obvious that this roster, and possibly the management team, will look a lot different this summer.
Pegula oversaw three big signings this past offseason, and it looks like he’ll end up with two hits and one miss. And it’s just not feasible, as things have gone downhill, that he doesn’t know which guys on this team have quit on him. Forgive the man for being ambitious if not perfect, and consider giving him more than ten weeks to right the ship.
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About The Sabres Observer
Dave Davis has covered the Buffalo Sabres for various NHL accredited websites and newspapers since 2003. He was the senior writer and Sabres correspondent for The Fourth Period, covered hockey for Western New York Sports and Leisure Magazine, and has had articles featured on NHL.com, FOX Sports, Yahoo Sports and in New York Sportscene. Sabres news and notes can be found on his Twitter page.
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter: [@DaveDavisHockey]