It might be safe to refer to Friday, June 24 as Nostalgia Day in the hockey world.
First, we have the return of the Winnipeg Jets. Then there’s Eric Brewer signing a four-year deal worth about $16 million, which is a nearly identical contract to the one he agreed to in 2007. Ryan Smyth seems primed to play NHL hockey for a team in Alberta again as well (although it sounds like he might be a member of the Calgary Flames rather than Edmonton Oilers).
Not to be outdone in turning back the clock, the AHL approved Buffalo Sabres owner Terry Pegula as the new owner of the Rochester Americans, effectively reuniting the two teams. The Americans were the affiliate team for the Sabres for 39 years until that exchange ended in 2008, but Pegula demanded a reunion.
Pegula & Co. aren’t just being nostalgic, though; there’s plenty of logic to having an affiliate that is a stone’s throw from the mother ship. Having the flexibility to call up a minor league who can quickly join the club cannot be underrated considering the often-nebulous nature of injuries in the NHL. Here is more about the renewed relationship between the two sides via John Vogl of the Buffalo News.
Sabres founders Seymour H. Knox III and Northrup Knox bought the Amerks in 1979-80. They were sold to a Rochester-based group in 1995, and previous Sabres owner B. Thomas Golisano tried to buy the Amerks in the mid-2000s. After being rebuffed, the Sabres moved their minor-league team to Portland.
There was no stopping Pegula.
The Sabres signed a long-term extension to remain in Portland in March 2010, but they have worked their way out.
Rochester has struggled with attendance since the Sabres left. The hope is that reuniting with their longtime parent will rekindle interest.
Sabres fans should rejoice: it’s obvious their new owner cares about making this team successful and competitive. This could be a big off-season in Buffalo, although it might be true that their biggest addition happened during the 2010-11 season when Pegula bought the team.