Eastern Conference Echoes: Sale of the Buffalo Sabres Still Up in the Air

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I typically shy away from talking about the Buffalo Sabres because of my obvious bias (if you don’t know, I write for the network’s Sabres blog Sabrenoise.com); however, with recent developments of a possible new owner of the Sabres, I feel it is appropriate to discuss what is going on, if you don’t know.

In late November, rumor of a letter of intent to purchase the floundering Sabres emerged via Hockey News writer Ken Campell. Simply enough, Campell wrote:

"THN.com has learned that billionaire Terry Pegula has signed a letter of intent to buy the Buffalo Sabres from Tom Golisano for about $150 million."

After the statement was released, most Buffalo Sabres fans were curious about this Terry Pegula. After I heard the rumor, I quickly did some research on Mr. Pegula and found out he was the benefactor who donated $88 million dollars to start a D-I hockey program at his Alma Mater, Penn State. At that point, all I could think of was how wonderful it would be for Mr. Pegula to actually have signed a letter of intent; however, I held in my school girl-like giddiness because unfortunately I still felt that it was only a rumor.

This didn’t prevent me from doing some more research on Mr. Pegula, however. With more research, I uncovered where his wealth came from (Oil), his net worth ($3 billion) and that he has ties to the area (his wife is a native of Buffalo). At this point, I couldn’t be more excited about the prospective idea of Mr. Pegula purchasing the Sabres. Here is a guy who is true hockey fan, with ties to the Buffalo area and has an absolute abundance of money. Who else could you ask for to own your favorite franchise?

Now, I can’t get too ahead of myself here, because I do have to remember that Mr. Golisano, the current owner, did save this franchise from impending doom in 2003. Mr. Golisano purchased the Sabres who were heading for bankruptcy for a steal at $92 million. I do appreciate what Mr. Golisano has done for the franchise, but he even admittedly was not a huge hockey fan. So, the fact that he has considered selling the team is such a joy seeing as it could be going to a man who has a passion for hockey. Now the initial talking price for the Sabres organization was $150 million, a large increase from Golisano’s initial purchase price, but now that price has climbed even hire to a rumored $175 million.

Since that initial surge in rumors about the sale, talks had cooled because the Sabres higher-ups were very hush-hush about any pending purchase of the Sabres– even going so far as even denying any talks at all about the sale; however, this all took a turn when it was announced that there would be important information about the possible sale of the team after the World Juniors concluded in Buffalo. Again, rumblings about the sale emerged on the radio waves and in local newspapers discussing what may be on the horizon for the team, but we were again disappointed by the actual statement released my Sabres Managing partner Larry Quinn. Essentially what Larry Quin said in his statement was, “hey, sure, there are talks, but the rumors are way ahead of what is actually going on”. Deflated, again.

Ultimately I am talking about this because today there was confirmation that Terry Pegula was in Buffalo at HSBC arena talking with the Sabres partners. The talks were considered “informal” but it is just another layer in the Pegula cake. Although, the sale is going a little slower than many Sabres fans and analysts predicted, it does seem that ball is rolling and hopefully the sale will be finalized in the near future.

I wrote this because I wasn’t sure how many people knew about the financial opera that is going on in Buffalo and it is important news for the league. I think Mr. Pegula will be a great owner for Buffalo and a great asset to the NHL.