More Than Just Money
Buffalo sports fans have constantly complained about the ownership of their two teams.
The public feels that current Sabres owner and former politician Tom Golisano is too cheap. Not to mention about half of the Bills faithful wouldn't be phased if the football team's owner, Ralph Wilson, were to croak right now.
I've heard every complaint because I listen to every call on WGR 550's Whiner Line every morning. I'm the guy who listens to all of your whines and decides the best ones to put on air. I've heard it all.
This city is full of pessimists when it comes to sports.
This week, though, Buffalo fans have a reason to believe the future of the Sabres will be in good hands. Billionaire Terry Pegula, the 110th richest person in the country according to Forbes Magazine, is trying to purchase the team.
Whether or not Golisano will sell the team is not decided, but the $175 million offer will give the current owner something to think about for sure.
Even though Pegula has a surplus of money to spend, that is not the lone reason the Sabres and their fans should be excited for the change. This guy has a passion for hockey, and specifically the Sabres.
Pegula is not looking to turn the Sabres into a profit. "He wants to win Stanley Cups – as in plural," his friend was quoted as saying in a Buffalo News story.
The 59-year old is a Sabres fan, and he even had season tickets while they were playing at Memorial Auditorium. He is a real hockey guy through-and-through and is just what the Sabres and their fans need.
Pegula's love for the sport and a desire to own a winner reminded me of my favorite owner in sports, Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban.
Cuban puts everything he has into his team. He sits courtside at every game and has even walked out on the court to argue with referees in multiple instances. He has earned a series of fines from NBA commissioner David Stern, totaling around $1.7 million, for actions during games or at press conferences. He is possibly the most visible and passionate owner in sports, and there are very few like him.
While some might find such a character like Cuban annoying, there's no denying his success. The Mavericks have been one of the most consistent franchises in the NBA since Cuban took over, making the playoffs every season. Cuban's aspiration to be the owner of the best team in the league is obvious through his dedication to constantly improving his team. Cuban is an actual fan of the Mavericks.
The Sabres might be getting a replica of Cuban on a smaller scale, which is perfect for the Buffalo sports market. Believe it or not, unlike most billionaires, Pegula doesn't even have a Wikipedia page.
Because the league has a salary-cap, he can't use his money obnoxiously, like the New York Yankees, to put a winner on the ice by buying the league's top talent. But what he can do is put his players in the best situation to succeed, and he already has a solid foundation to build on.
Lindy Ruff is the longest-tenured coach in the NHL and is considered one of the best in the league. He has one of the top fan-bases in hockey that never has trouble selling out a home game. And while the Sabres aren't performing up to standards this season, they are a very solid young team that is a few pieces away from competing for a Cup.
It is still unknown how much pull he will have in the organization, but we know that he will surround himself with the best front office his money can buy.
The city will be able to relate to Pegula because he wants to bring the cup to Buffalo just as much as the fans want it. Everyone is on the same page, and he might buy the Bills once Wilson is deceased if everything works out.
I don't know a lot about hockey. I've only recently started following the sport in the past couple of years. But I do know an owner with that type of dedication to his team will result in nothing but success.