Buffalo Sabres Changes Reach Front Office
Buffalo Sabres fans have waited two years to see changes on the ice. This year that patience will pay off but more changes are taking place in the Buffalo Sabres front office.
RELATED: Buffalo Sabres Turn Around Starts Now
Just over one week ago Buffalo Sabres President Ted Black was replaced by Buffalo Bills President Russ Brandon, whom will now hold both positions. Call it a firing or mutual decision, Black is gone. There were several tweets by Tim Graham and Bucky Gleason, both of The Buffalo News, discussing the change. The most interesting to me was this one:
Source: Pegulas found how operations worked smoothly with Bills, then wondered why Sabres had so many problems. They looked at presidents.
— Bucky Gleason (@TBNbucky) July 27, 2015
After the dust settled on Black’s departure, word came that Vice-President of Hockey Related Business, Joe Battista, stepped down as well to spend more time with his family. Battista has long ties with Kim and Terry Pegula, owners of both the Buffalo Sabres and Buffalo Bills.
When I first heard of Black’s departure my only concern is that Brandon is taking on more than one man can handle. Running the Buffalo Bills is a full-time job itself. Running both the Bills and Buffalo Sabres sounds nearly impossible. Brandon won’t be involved with the hockey operations, just the business side. Having one man run both major sports franchise in the same market with ownership like the Pegula’s could be an advantage, not a concern as I first thought.
As for Battista, I have no idea what a VP of Hockey Related Business does. I’m sure it’s more than buying new a new zamboni or planning for the next lockout. Being completely honest I’m not sure I care to know. I compare the probability of success in the NHL to teams in the NFL at three positions.
In the NFL that’s general manager, head coach and quarterback. For the Buffalo Sabres it’s general manager, head coach and number one center. In one year the Buffalo Sabres went from Darcy Regier, Ted Nolan and a combination of converted wingers and second-line players to Tim Murray, Dan Bylsma and Ryan O’Reilly. Word is the Buffalo Sabres drafted a young man who could make the team someday too.
The message from Kim and Terry Pegula is clear. The Buffalo Sabres have gone from league doormat and the brunt of more tanking jokes than any team for the last two years to a franchise with clear direction looking to improve every day both on and off the ice.
As for who might take the vacant Buffalo Sabres front office job I won’t be surprised if it’s someone Buffalo Sabres fans and the community already know. Several former NHL players have come back to run programs at the HarborCenter. Bringing back Ted Nolan gave fans something to cheer about for two years of bad hockey. My mind went to Michael Peca quickly but that’s pure hope and guessing. Peca is the current General Manager and head coach for the Buffalo Junior Sabres.
The front office changes for the Buffalo Sabres add another layer of excitement for the 2015-16 season. Both on and off the ice the team continues to evolve. There is more talent on the ice, behind the bench and soon to be in leadership. You can be sure the Pegula’s will continue assessing and changing until the Buffalo Sabres are Stanley Cup champions.
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